Ayahuasca, Religious Syncretism, and Modernity in the Brazilian Amazon
The Santo Daime religion was established in Northwest Brazil in the early 20th century, drawing converts from mixed race "caboclo" communities, which were impacted by the decline of the Amazon rubber boom. The religion blends indigenous practices like the sacramental use of the psychoactive tea ayahuasca with folk Catholicism and Afro-Brazilian religion. In recent decades Santo Daime has begun attracting middle class converts from Brazil's urban centers and abroad. In his presentation, Grant discusses his visit to two rural Santo Daime communities in Northwest Brazil - Céu do Mapia and Colonia 5000 - both of which are home to rural people whose families were involved in the rubber trade, and pilgrimage sites for practitioners of the Santo Daime religion from around the world.
Although much has been written about the links between oral health and reproductive status, there is very little consensus on the causal relationship between reproductive status and putative sex differences in oral health. Researchers have identified myriad pathways from reproduction to oral health, such as increases in the consumption of cariogenic foods during gestation and a tendency of females to eat cariogenic foods in general. Pregnancy related changes in female hormonal profiles also increase the likelihood of periodontitis and tooth caries through a decrease in salivary flow and buffering capacity. Despite the abundance of data on the subject, there have been no studies that have definitively linked oral health causally to reproduction using an evolutionary framework. Matt’s research is on the downstream oral health consequences of female reproduction. He investigates the link between reproduction and the behavioral and biological mechanisms underlying oral disease among the Tsimane.
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