November 20, 7 pm
Lecture, Film screening

Traditional medication in biomedicine


Lecture by Armin Prinz, Professor für Ethnomedizin an der Medizinuniversität Wien.

Almost all the groups of medications that make up modern biomedicine have their origin in traditional cures. In the standard pharmaceitical reference works, however, this connection is only cited when it cannot be avoided, for example in the case of curare or quinine. Apparently, people are unconsciously afraid of appearing "unscientific" if they admit to obtaining their knowledge from herbal healers, medicine men or shamans.

This historical and ethnographic overview illustrates the routes by which important cures bacame part of biomedicine, including details on the professor's own ethnopharmacological findings.

Medicina de Todos—Natural Healers and Biopirates in Chiapas
A documentary by Katja Reusch and Ulrich Selle, 2002 | 40 min | D

“For the last 18 years, Domitilo Gonzales has been working as a health promoter in his village at the edge of civilization in the Selva, the Mexican jungle in Chiapas. Because the government in far-away Mexico City is doing less and less these days to provide medical care for the population, health has become an unaffordable luxury for the people of his village. Domitilo has now joined the organization of traditional healers and midwives in order to regain his ancestor’s knowledge of the healing properties of Mexico’s many native plant species. But it’s not only the indigenous inhabitants of the impoverished southern region of Mexico who are interested in this traditional knowledge. The big pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations of North America and Europe are busy trying to patent some of these profitable secrets. The Mexicans begin to put up resistance to the outsiders …”