TRAMIL Surveys


The originality of the TRAMIL analysis system does not rest only on the qualitative, but also on the quantitative approach to the current popular use of medicinal plants in the different countries of the Caribbean. The primary tool of the analysis is participative ethnopharmacological survey. Its starting point is not in the plants but in the health symptoms or problems, and in the perception of these symptoms by targeted groups.

In each country, the list of health problems has been taken as the basis for the investigation work. This list has been previously elaborated by a multidisciplinary group in order to adapt it to the realities of the communities that have participated in the surveys. Finally, a maximum of ten health problems and a minimum of five has been settled down.

The first part of the survey, relative to general data, is applicable to each community. On the contrary, the second part of the survey is a result of comparison of the results of the whole TRAMIL network. The first question concerns the health problem and its popular description. Successively, the second question is about the use of the remedy when a previously specified problem occurred before. Three possibilities were offered: quack doctor, doctor or homemade remedy.

- In case when the doctor or the quack doctor was the first resource, the survey restarts with the next problem.
- In case the first resource is a plant, a description of the plant is requested, with all the details concerning its use, the directions for use, etc.
- The contraindications, as well as the directions for use for children, are requested. The location where the plant has been collected should also be indicated. The associations are indicated, although the data concerning the other plants that were used should be written down on a separate page.

The number of surveys is defined on the basis of the number of inhabitants and finally fixed by a statistician. In each family, the interviewed person is preferably the mother. The survey covers all the population, and not only people who have knowledge about plants.

A definite profile for a data collector has not been established as an adequate person is chosen mainly according to the local realities. The only recommendation is that it is a women if the list of health problems gathers specifically feminine affections. It was concluded that the direct participation of doctors as investigators was not preferable, for they tend to interpret the popular descriptions and therefore to influence the answers. This restriction is not valid for the ethnodoctors.

In order to identify the plant beyond any doubt:
- Or the plant is collected at the same time of the survey;
- Or the plants are collected that are significant for the taxonomist. That is to say we have to go back to the place of the survey to make the herbarium in case of not having the sample.

The uses of medical species signaled in the TRAMIL questionnaires have been selected according to the frequency they are mentioned by the interviewed groups, for a given affection.

After the first surveys, carried out in 1982-84 in Dominican Republic and Haiti, complementary series have been elaborated in other areas of both countries. Additional surveys had also been programmed and carried out in Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Quintana Roo, San Andrés, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela. For the analysis of these new surveys, the same quantitative approach was applied.

Surveys model

Legend :

green Conducted survey    blue Survey in progress   magenta Planned survey