Medicine for the Mayas was a mix of religión and science. They knew that in this type of medicine balance or imbalance was affected by diet. The Mayas of the classic period used a variety of plants to heal such as; Chaya (Chay), (Cnidoscolus chayamansa), Balche, Kakaw, Ramon, Guarumbo, Jicaro, and Aloe Vera. Listed below are seven healing plants of the Ancient Maya:
7 Healing Plants of the Ancient Maya
1) Kakaw (Cacao)
Scientific Name: Theobroma Cacao
In Maya: Kakaw
We all know what chocolate is, but did you know that chocolate is derived from Cacao and it is considered a healing plant? Besides tantalizing our taste buds, chocolate (Kakaw in Maya) has various medicinal uses and was used for; diarrhea, as a laxative, to treat depression, blood circulation, asthma, insomnia, healing wounds, achy muscles, as an aphrodisiac, as a sedative, to treat fatigue, and under eye circles. The Mayas used cacao as the prime ingredient in their ceremonial cacao drink, in excess cacao produced an altered state of consciousness.
Scientific Name: Lonchocarpus longistylus
In Maya: Balché
Balché, was and is the quintessential sacred drink of the Maya, it is consumed in all Mayan ceremonies. Balche allows the participant access to the sacred world, it allows him/or her to transcend, to contact what we can not see or touch in the secular world, it allows them to decipher the mysteries behind nature. The Mayas used Balche for the purification of body and soul, it aided in the production of an altered state of consciousness, and it was also used as a laxative hence the word “purification”.
Scientific Name:Cnidoscolus Aconitifolius
In Maya: Chaay
Chaya provides enormous benefits to the human body; it improves blood circulation, regulates blood pressure, aids digestion, restores vision, reduces inflammation in hemorrhoids, fights constipation, helps expel urine and breast milk, levels cholesterol and uric acid, reduces weight, prevents cough, increases calcium in the bones, clears and disinfects the lungs, prevents anemia, improves memory and brain function, prevents arthritis, cancer and diabetes among other ailments.
Scientific Name: Brosium Alcastrum Swartz
In Maya: OX
The OX or Ramon tree, is considered in the cosmo-visión maya as a sacred tree life and a fount of life. This tree, found in almost all Mayan home gardens or lots, is widely appreciated by The Mayas for its many uses. Its seeds are ground and used as a corn substitute during times of famine or war. The seeds of this tree have a high protein value of in between 12% and 20%, it contains carbohydrates and vitamin A, Niacin, and vitamin B2. The seeds can be ingested to treat infertility and to regulate menstrual cycles. The Mayas also used this vital plant to treat chronic asthma. The seeds can also help new mothers who are having problems lactating.
Scientific Name: Cecropia Obstusifolia Bertol
In Maya: K’ axixkooch
Guarumbo wood is used to make paper, while it’s bark is used to make string. The fruit feeds the monkeys that live in the treetops, as well as around 40 species of birds. Its branches are occasionally inhabited by colonies of fierce Azteca and Ata ants. Traditionally, its leaves have been used to treat heart problems and diabetes.
Scientifica name: Crescentia Cujete L.
In Maya: Luuch
The Gourd produces a woody fruit with a light and durable shell that has been used since Pre-Columbian times in the manufacture of containers or gourds. The fruit is often boiled down to a concentrated liquid which is used to treat diarrhea, stomach pain, colds, cough, bronchitis, asthma, and urethritis: and the leaves are used to treat hypertension making it a valuable healing plants.
Scientific Name: Aloe Vera
In Maya: Petk’ Inki
Aloe is grown for medicinal use and as an ornamental plant. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, (calcium, magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper), Amino Acids, and enzymes. It is a good emollient for skin, has antiseptic properties and helps healing as it enhances cell growth.