Tradition meets science to promote European health and history

A project in Austria has been launched to protect the traditional healing benefits of plants and herbs before the knowledge is lost.

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Products from the Traditional European Medicines project. Products from the Traditional European Medicines project.

" The project “Traditional European Medicine” had major regional influence, and the additional income opportunity for producers was used especially by the women. The courses held and the dissemination of traditional regional knowledge strengthened the region’s identity. Finally, during the project a network began to grow far beyond the region. "

Astrid Hohenwarter, Manager, Saalachtal area

In an area best known for its stunning mountains and holiday ski resorts, researchers and record keepers are working to protect biodiversity and understand ancient practices. The "Traditional European Medicine" project is built around the healing knowledge of the Pinzgau district in Salzburg. It aims to develop modern recipes from the regional, traditional healing knowledge of families and individuals in this corner of Central Austria. In this way, workers hope to protect and build on the trust people feel for local medicinal plants and their applications.

In 2010 the Austrian Commission for UNESCO added knowledge of the traditional uses of plants from this area to a list of “intangible cultural heritage”. The Traditional European Medicine study aims to understand how people learn about these proper applications of traditional remedies through childhood and youth. The study will collect traditional information about plants and their medical and nutritional value, as well as analysing this data in the light of modern scientific breakthroughs.

Empowering through employment and education

Benefits already seen from the Traditional European Medicines project include creating new employment for women, and cultivating three new herb farms and four herb gardens. A new labelling system for herb products has been developed, and 23 new herb products have been made from regional herbs.

Work incorporates a scientific study from the University of Salzburg investigating the cultural context of traditional medicine, as well as the medicinal plants themselves. The use of traditional plants has increased for this region of Salzburg, which has also seen the emergence of new business partners in the field of traditional medicine.

Moving forward, this project will continue to promote sustainable employment - particularly for women - and training programmes to spread the knowledge still further.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Traditional European Medicine” is EUR 183 000 , of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 46 282 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

12/12/2014