The Dzac yahes are healers who are experts in the chemical and medicinal qualities of herbs. Their curative system is recognized as an efficient method.
This has been demonstrated in the huge amount of literature about Maya medicine, copied from their manuscripts by many Europeans and also compiled during their scientific research, practiced for decades by the Maya. Thompson says: “It is surprising how many of the Maya’s medical texts deal with symptoms of illnesses with their data based on observations of the effects of certain plants on the human body.”
Traditional Maya medicine cures illnesses such as second grade cancer and diabetes. According to official registries, there are 540 traditional indiginous doctors in Yucatán, although this number could be closer to 700 when the wives and midwives who also practice healing are included. The official group which was formed in 1992 is known as OMIMPY (Organización de Médicos Indígenas Mayas de la Península de Yucatán).
Don Juan Bautista Cob Balam, an authentic Maya herbalist and member of this organization and who learned from childhood the secrets of the medicinal plants under the guidance of his father and grandfather who, in their turn, learned it from their fathers and grandfathers, comments that to be an herbalist is for him a great inherited responsibility of service to others. “We are public servants.” Those herbalists who do not see it in this way are not Dzac yahes, nor H-mens, they are charlatans. Now anyone who knows the recipes which can cure with plants may call themselves herbalist, but it is not only the plants which bring the cures, it is the spiritual concept and the force of the H-men and the knowledge which they inherit.
He talks to us from his herb farm located in Yaxcabá, which in Maya means “Turquoise-colored transparent water”, which is about 100 km. east of Mérida. You get there by taking the Mérida–Valladolid highway and at Libre Unión turn south. Anyone you ask about Don Juan Bautista will know how to find him.
In the herb farm, Don Juan works and takes care of the conservation of various species of medicinal plants, and prepares his creams, teas and pomades. Three of his six children work with him, and four of his grandchildren, who are learning the tradition. When we meet him we are surprised to see how he diagnoses the illnesses; he uses a Spanish deck of cards. When I ask him about this, he responds that it is not the cards themselves which give the information, it could be any other vehicle to connect with the sick person’s energy, but he likes these cards because they were a gift from a friend. I can assure you that the diagnosis he made was completely accurate.
Text by: Anabell Castañeda
Email: [email protected]
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