Mayan Health Use of Eucalyptus  

Eucalyptus globulus may be the eucalyptus species used today by the Mayan people of Central America. One final tree needs to be mentioned that still plays a role in Mayan healing today—eucalyptus. Ancient Mayan use of the eucalyptus tree is not documented. However, the medicinal practices of the Mayan people are passed as oral tradition from one generation to the …

Mayan Capsicum annum

The Mayans used peppers daily in foods and beverages. Photo by Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, United States Public Domain Researchers from several universities, including UCLA and UC Davis, used ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) MS-MS analysis to show “Prehispanic Use of Chili Peppers in Chiapas, Mexico.” The study found Capsicum residue dating from 400 BC to 300 AD (Middle to Late Classic …

Mayan Health: All-Purpose Chamomile

We turn again to Rosita Arvigo, the traditional healer and ethnobotanist. She is director of the Ix Chel Tropical Research Foundation and founder and co-director of Terra Nova, the world’s first and only biomedical rainforest reserve. Chamomile is still treasured by the Mayan people. While her book does not list the botanical name of chamomile, it is probably Roman chamomile …

Mayan Health: Multipurpose Rue

Rue (Ruta graveolens) was used by the Mayans to heal a broken heart. The Mayans understood the power of using plants for emotional healing. Rue, however, was used by the Mayans for more than a broken heart. Descendants of the Mayan people today still use rue for anxiety, anemia, promoting menstrual bleeding, colic, and arthritis, according to the Maya Health …

Ancient Mayan Use of Lemongrass

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus)is also known as “fever grass” to Mayan healers today. Rosita Arvigo writes that she has learned from Mayan healers not to be afraid of fevers. She says they are Mother Nature’s way of fighting off invading organisms. On page 67 of her book, Rainforest Home Remedies, she writes, “Fever fights off infection, invaders, and viruses by raising …

Ancient Mayan Wisdom

Byrsonima crassifolia,the locust tree used in healing by the ancient MayansPhoto by Franz Xaver, GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 Byrsonima crassifolia is commonly known today as nance or nanche. This tree was called chi by the Mayan people. In the book Medical Ethnobiology of the Highland Maya of Chiapas, Mexico, the authors write that the Mayan term for this tree was …

Mayan Health Use of Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) Earaches for children are an age-old problem. Traditional healer Rosita Arvigo learned from Mayan healers to gather fresh leaves of either oregano, thyme, or basil. She warms the herbal leaves over a low flame until the leaves are limp but not burned. When cool, she then squeezes out a few aromatic drops. She then adds a bit …

Mayan Interaction with Plants

The Chiapas shade cuphea, one of the rainforest’s exotic flowers. Photo by Dick Culbert (CC BY 2.0) The ancient Mayan people believed that all plants and trees were sacred conveyors of the life force. They called this life force Chu’lel. We would say this is similar to the Chinese Qi or chi. Chu’lel was also the word for “soul.” Mayans believed …

The Heart of Mayan Medicine: Plants

Anthropologists wrote this 500-page book on Mayan herbal remedies. Anthropologists Brent and Eloise Berlin with Mayan colleagues cataloged the Mayan medical uses of plants. Their 500-page book on treatments for just gastrointestinal ailments alone was published by Princeton University in 2015. The authors said Mayan knowledge of health and plants could fill 11 more volumes of this size. The Berlins …

An Exotic Flower Shown as a Mayan Headdress

Flowers from the pseudobombax tree are pictured as part of a Mayan headdress. Photos by K.C. Nixon/Justin and Barbara Kerr. The unique flower of the pseudobombax tree (Pseudobombax ellipticum) was the inspiration for a headdress worn by Mayan nobles as depicted in Mayan art. The unique flower of the pseudobombax tree was written in the Mayan codices as k’uy-nik. Paintings of …