Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies


Introduction: Herbal medicine has been widely used in the past and present, as it is deeply rooted in many cultures' histories. Literature Review: Herbal medicines are used for health maintenance and treatment in Costa Rica. The country's rich natural environment, accessibility, and tradition led to prominent herbal medicine use. Annona muricata (Soursop), Uncaria tomentosa (Cat's Claw), Mikania species (Guaco), and Neurolaena lobata (Gavilana) have commonly been used in Central American medications and have diverse indications based on their plant parts.

Case Study: A discussion with an herbalist, founder, and citizen of Longo Mai, a community in southern Costa Rica, was had about practicing herbal medicine. Herbal medicine was prominent in their lives due to its proximity and freshness. At the same time, while only some people in Costa Rica have practiced herbal medicine, knowledge of some herbal remedies has existed for generations in all families. Annona muricata, Mikania species, and Neurolaena lobata have been commonly used in Longo Mai, while Uncaria tomentosa is present but rarely used.

Discussion: Herbal medicines have been essential for Costa Ricans' health and culture due to the environment’s robust and immense biodiversity and the medicines’ accessibility, affordability, and strong cultural traditions. The research showed overlap, but slight variations, in how herbal medicines were prepared, strategically prescribed to reduce side effects, and their utilization. Annona muricata was the most discussed herbal medicine in Longo Mai, while Uncaria tomentosa was rarely used. The differences could be due to Longo Mai representing a small portion of Costa Rica. Therefore, these variations between the literature review and case study could be less in other areas of the country.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate the significance of providers understanding herbal medicines’ physical and cultural benefits, especially since it is widely practiced. This knowledge will allow providers to ensure that herbal medicines are used safely and improve shared decision- making by helping them support a patient’s cultural and health beliefs. Ultimately, this could improve the quality and outcomes of patient care.


SC 11.PAS.2023.Schichting-Bader.JE