Classification of remedies and medical plants of Estonian ethnopharmacology


Ain Raal, Renata Sõukand


University of Tartu



Abstract. This article reflects folk medicine material collected over the last 120 years. There are approximately 30 000 texts on the subject stored in the Estonian Folklore Archives. The research material was compiled to ascertain the rate of use of different forms of remedies (plants, food, natural resources, chemical substances, animal remedies, etc) and their relative use in healing different types of diseases. The results show that the most frequently used remedies were medical plants: from 43 to 92%, depending on the disease to be cured. Plants used in Estonian folk medicine are classified by botanical, functional, pharmacognostical and pharmacological characteristics. The material is described according to reliability and profundity of reports. In Estonian folk medicine around 400 medical plants were known, but during the Soviet Union (1940–1991) the amount of officially allowed herbs decreased several times (over 100). Nowadays the number of medical plants used in Estonia is twice as much as used in folk medicine (over 800).


Keywords: Estonia, ethnomedicine, ethnopharmacology, remedies, medical plants, classifica­tion