As the fieldwork for our project came to a close, we began to open a whole new chapter of our research, Data Analysis. The battle begins, PeruTeam vs. Data Analysis. Who will win in the end? Collecting the data is one project, the next is breaking down all the information you just found and making inferences and conclusions, charts and figures, and incorporating chi square. Basically, making your work make sense and come to life. For my project this was the fun part.
I had the pleasure of compiling the complete list of medicinal plants found in both communities and seeing if there were any not mentioned previously. More research came into play after the list was compiled. Each newly mentioned plant had to be researched thoroughly. This portion expanded my knowledge of medicinal plants and the different places, even outside of Peru, they are used. I learned scientific names, the many different common names that can be used for just one plant, and where each originated from. Also had to use many different references in order to see if the plant mentioned was around and used in the 1700s. The best part was learning the medicinal uses of each plant. Which in itself expanded my knowledge and thought process of what we consider “medicine” in Western society.
This is the aspect that I was the most interested in, due to my ambitions of becoming a holistic and alternative medicine doctor. It makes you look at medicine completely different and not so pharmaceutically driven, which our society has become. Different herbal teas were mentioned as a type of medicine for almost everyone interviewed. It helps you look at the whole body as its own natural entity, and coming up with other natural alternatives to help build this natural entity.
Medicinal plants can be used to naturally treat so many different ailments that we as Americans, and other countries who primarily use “Western medicine,” have become accustomed to popping a pill for. This project has opened my mind up to so many different aspects of medicine. From the plants and their medicinal qualities, to the work anthropologist do to assist in the medical world. Something I thought was completely separate, but in actuality both depend on each other and the work in intertwined.
Nonetheless, the battle continues, and right now it is my educated guess that Data Analysis is winning. But not for long!