Traditional Medicine in the Pristine Village of Prokoško Lake on Vranica Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The results of an ethnobotanical study conducted in the pristine village of Prokoško Lake (Vranica Mountain, Bosnia and Herzegovina) in summer 2007 is presented. Informal interviews involving 12 informants known as “traditional healers” provided data from 43 plants used in 82 prescriptions. The applied plants were used for a broad spectrum of indications. The most frequent were gastro-intestinal tract ailments, blood system disorders, skin ailments, respiratory tract ailments and urinary-genital tract ailments. The most frequent preparation was an infusion. Other often used preparations were ointments or balms and decocts. The special Bosnian balms known as “mehlems” were prepared from freshly chopped or freshly pressed herbal parts of various plant species. Warmed resins from Abies or Picea species, raw cow or pig lard, olive oil and honey served as basis. The traditional doctors, who usually worked as a team, enjoyed such a good reputation that people from all over the country were visiting in search of alternative ways to cure their ailments and diseases. The practical techniques applied by the healers and some of their attitudes and values are reported.
Traditional medicine is as old as human kind and is practised by virtually all cultures, each one with its own indigenous knowledge, health practices and beliefs. Scientific and “non-scientific” knowledge generally has been transmitted by oral tradition from generation to generation since antiquity until it finally became a significant part of the foundation of today’s school medicine. The history of traditional use of drugs for healing, hence, dates back far to ancient civilisations, for instance to those of Babylon, Egypt, antique Greece and to the Romans. Slavs arrived in Europe in 7th century.