Yucatán’s native plants are a powerful and complete pharmacy. There is a long tradition in Maya culture that holds deep knowledge regarding the benefits of medicinal plants. If you’re looking to add a little extra to your treatments of common ailments, keep reading and incorporate this wisdom into your life: you won’t regret it.
For an earache.
Grab a small (blueberry-size) amount of rue (Ruta graveolens) and wrap it in a thin gauze; place it in your ear overnight and wake up pain-free.
For a cough.
Find a beautiful pink bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra) and make yourself a hot cup of tea using the blossoms. Add delicious Yucatecan honey (a natural antiseptic) and you’ve got yourself a full treatment.
For a fever.
There are two wonderful remedies. If you have limes (the green ones, known locally as Limones), cut two into thick slices and place them on the soles of your feet. Put socks on to keep them in place. Have some lemonade while you’re at it. This highly medicinal fruit has strong healing powers that will bring your temperature down. Don’t have a lemon handy? Find a potato. I once had a fever while in the highlands of Chiapas and the medicine woman that came to see me cut a potato in half, placed a half on each side of my neck and after about 20 to 30 minutes, my temperature began to go down.
For pain in general.
If you can find Limones Indios (the small ones with seeds), they’re also great for pain of all kinds. You can place the whole lemon wherever you feel achy (around your stomach, against your cheek if you have a toothache, on your head if you have a headache, etc.). Get creative and wrap something around yourself to hold it in place. You will notice, in time, that the lime begins to get wrinkled and change in color; it will also get harder. This means it’s doing its job and taking your pain away.
For stomach aches.
Stress, tension, and some foods may hurt our stomachs. If you’re able to get your hands on some X-tá Ulum Maax (in Maya), known in Spanish as Cola de Alacrán (not an actual scorpion’s tail, but rather the Heliotropium angiospermum plant), make yourself a tea by boiling a handful of this plant in two liters of water and drink throughout the day. It’s easiest to find in small towns and villages. Another effective stomach remedy is guava (Psidium guajava). Boil two or three guavas in two liters of water and drink the tea throughout the day. You can also heal yourself by massaging your stomach, clockwise, going from the edges of your abdomen towards the center. Breathe deeply, or hum a soothing song to yourself. This will help put everything in place and calm your body.
For a sore throat.
No problem! Again, our local Limones Indios and sweet honey come to the rescue. Mix equal parts of these two ingredients and take one spoonful at a time. Allow the medicine to coat your throat and soothe the irritation. Wait sometime before you eat or drink anything else. Take it throughout the day.
Remember that you should always ask for permission before harvesting any of these plants and fruits. Once you harvest them (or purchase them), place your intention in them. Do this by holding them in your hands and asking them for their healing properties, and thank them for being available to you and for the work they will be doing. When you believe, the healing will take place.
If you are lucky enough to be in a village, you can likely find medicine men and women who will know how to treat your ailments. With caution, you can ask for the recipe you need.
Editorial by Andrea Medina
Photography by Valentina Álvarez, Amy Humphries, and Maggie Rosado for use in Yucatan Today
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