Mendes de Araújo, M. Bactrins e quebra-pedras. [ Antibiotics and medicinal plants .] Interface – Comunicação, Saúde, Educação [ Interface – Communication, Health, Education] (Batucatu, São Paulo, Brazil) 2000;4(7):103-10.

Objectives: To analyze the dilemmas that arise between biomedical and popular logic in the attempt to initiate treatment with medicinal plants in the Municipal Health Network in Londrina, Brazil.

Methodology:Qualitative, through interviews with physicians and the members of popular sectors in Londrina, between the years 1995 and 1998.

Results: The article analyzes why the project of initiating treatment with medicinal plants could not be implemented, despite having received the support of officials in the municipal health service and having been supported by important sectors of the people’s movement in health. The group treating with medicinal plants emerged from a process of self-criticism of biomedicine in relation to the nonexistent or rare recognition of emotional factors in the processes of becoming ill and curing, as in the fragmentation of the body and its maladies by virtue of the excessive value placed in medical specialties.

The project broke from the presumption that the incorporation of medicinal plants in treatment of diseases would bring closer the roles of physician and patient; already the use of these plants was common in the popular sectors of Brazil. This effort would be: a form of rescuing therapeutic, popular knowledge; respecting its ways of understanding illness and the body. Nevertheless, the medical group decided that medicinal plants in their natural state would not be incorporated, and that they would be recommended only after proving scientifically their active principle. Thus, the group of treatment with medicinal plants, despite intending to incorporate a therapeutic practice distinct from those scientifically adopted, ended by subordinating this practice to the prescribing principles of scientific medicine.

Conclusion:The analysis of the process developed in Londrina demonstrates that the intent of recovering popular knowledge was realized from a utilitarian perspective, considering that popular practices contrasted with and rejected scientific medicine. The medical group involved in the project did not understand that popular practices of curing incorporate and resign themselves to practices of scientific medicine in relation to its way of thinking about life.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico