Traditional Uses of Medicinal Plants from the Canadian Boreal Forest for the Management of Chronic Pain Syndromes

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▪ AbstractObjective:Chronic pain is more prevalent in indigenous populations who often prefer traditional remedies over allopathic drugs. Our objective was to investigate the traditional uses of medicinal plants from the Canadian boreal forest for the management of chronic pain syndromes.Methods:We reviewed the most extensive database on medicinal plants used by aboriginal people of the Canadian boreal forest to investigate the plants used in the management of 3 of the most common chronic pain syndromes: arthritis/rheumatism; back pain; and headache/migraine. We also reviewed the pharmacology and phytochemistry literature to investigate concordance with indigenous knowledge.Results:A total of 114 medicinal plant species were reported, of which 27 (23.5%) were used to treat more than 1 chronic pain syndrome. Pharmacological or phytochemical evidence to explain plant function as chronic pain remedy was available in the literature for only 38 species (33%), with several species reported to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties effective in treating chronic pain syndromes.Conclusions:Our study showed the potential of boreal plants as alternative and complementary medicines for the treatment of chronic pain syndromes that could be enhanced by further research on efficacy and safety issues.

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