The first experts in the science of jungle pharmacology, better known as “bush medicine”, understood the concept of balance. For the indigenous Maya, sickness was a sign of an imbalance of energy. They called the life force that permeates through all things, ch’ulel. This life force is what connects us all. Notwithstanding, the belief that there is no separation between the body and the universe may sound like fantasy. However, the truth is that all things are interconnected. In healing tradition, healers spoke to the plants, developing a relationship with them in order to carry out their work.
As there’s no separation between the body, earth and over and under worlds, the process of healing was one that required the cooperation of not only the healer and patient, but also of the plants and spirits.
Getting back to our ancestral roots is the path to appreciating nature’s foresight. Additionally, a natural lifestyle provides cures and relief to the many health risks and obstacles we face in everyday life. Essential to a holistic approach of living, nature’s pharmacy may require a learning curve. However, when understood, it can be life changing. As the movement towards cleaner living and mindful practices spreads more and more, we are rediscovering the value of going back to basics with nature. Whether it is magic, a master designer or just natural phenomenon that resulted in nature’s grand design, it is there for us to learn from and use responsibly.
What to look for
Learn more about the native plants of Belize by visiting grounds like Chaa Creek’s medicinal trail, The Botanical Gardens at Duplooy’s and Ix Chel Farms. Explore acres of beautiful plant life, on your own or as a guided tour. Bring a notebook and a pen and hike through lush tropical rainforests while you experience the poetic intricacy of nature’s design. Feel ch’ulel flow through you and dare to become one with nature.
What to look out for on your trail to wellness:
- Dysentry Bark (Negrito) Simarouba glauca
The bark and root of this tree is used for the treatment of its namesake (dysentery); diarrhea, internal bleeding and hemorrhages.
- Contribo (Duck Flower) Aristolochia trilobata
Used for treating hangovers, colds, flu and sinus congestion among a slew of other digestive ills. It is considered one of the most common remedies in Belize.
- Copal Protium copal
The resin is used to treat cavity pain and the powdered bark to treat stomach pain and intestinal parasites. It is also a sacred herb to the Maya as it is used in ceremonial rituals to ward off evils.
- Cockspur Acacia cornigera
This famous herb is also known as cuerno de vaca is used as a treatment to delay the effect of venom after a snake bite. The snake bite victim must cut a large piece of cockspur bark at least the size of his forearm, swallow the juices and then use the rubbish as a poultice on the bite. It is also a well-known treatment for male impotency.
- Wild Yam Dioscorea sp.
Used for bladder infections and kidney malfunctions, it is also used as a treatment for diabetes in its early stages.
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Original Article By: Drea Reneau