Journal article
Ethnoveterinary knowledge of farmers in bilingual regions of Switzerland – is there potential to extend veterinary options to reduce antimicrobial use?

Publication Details
Mertenat, D.; Cero, M.; Vogl, C.; Ivemeyer, S.; Meier, B.; Maeschli, A.; Hamburger, M.; Walkenhorst, M.
Publication year:
Journal of Ethnopharmacology
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Ethnopharmacological relevance In the
pre-antibiotic era, a broad spectrum of medicinal plants was used to
treat livestock. This knowledge was neglected in European veterinary
medicine for decades but kept alive by farmers. Emergence of multidrug
resistant bacterial strains requires a severely restricted use of
antibiotics in veterinary medicine. We conducted a survey on the
ethnoveterinary knowledge of farmers in the bilingual (French and German
speaking) Western region of Switzerland, namely the cantons of
Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Jura, and in the French speaking part of the
canton of Bern. Aim of the study To find out whether differences exist
in plants used by farmers in French speaking and bilingual regions of
Switzerland as compared to our earlier studies conducted in Switzerland.
Additional focus was on plants that are used in diseases which commonly
are treated with antimicrobials, on plants used in skin afflictions,
and on plants used in animal species such as horses, for which the range
of veterinary medicinal products is limited. Material and methods We
conducted in 2015 semistructured interviews with 62 dialog partners,
mainly cattle keeping farmers but also 18 horse keeping farmers. Of
these, 41 were native French (FNS) and 21 native German speakers (GNS).
Detailed information about homemade herbal remedies (plant species,
plant part, manufacturing process) and the corresponding use reports
(target animal species, category of use, route of administration,
dosage, source of knowledge, frequency of use, last time of use and
farmers satisfaction) were collected. Results A total of 345 homemade
remedies were reported, of which 240 contained only one plant species
(Homemade Single Species Herbal Remedy Reports; HSHR). A total of 289
use reports (UR) were mentioned for the 240 HSHR, and they comprised 77
plant species belonging to 41 botanical families. Of these, 35 plant
species were solely reported from FNS, 20 from GNS, and 22 from both.
Taking into account earlier ethnoveterinary studies conducted in
Switzerland only 10 (FNS) and 6 (GNS) plant species connected with 7% of
FNS and GNS UR respectively were “unique” to the respective language
group. The majority of the UR (219) was for treatment of cattle, while
38 UR were intended to treat horses. The most UR were for treatment of
gastrointestinal and skin diseases. The most frequently mentioned plants
were Linum usitatissimum L., Coffea L., Matricaria chamomilla L.,
Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze, and Quercus robur L. for gastrointestinal
diseases, and Calendula officinalis L., Hypericum perforatum L. and
Sanicula europaea L. for skin afflictions. Conclusion No clear
differences were found between the medicinal plants used by French
native speakers and German native speakers. Several of the reported
plants seem to be justified to widen the spectrum of veterinary
therapeutic options in gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders in
cattle and horses, and to reduce, at least to a certain degree, the need
for antibiotic treatments. Our findings may help to strengthen the role
of medicinal plants in veterinary research and practice, and to
consider them as a further measure in official strategies for lowering
the use of antibiotics.


Last updated on 2021-08-01 at 18:05