Plants that Cure

by Diana Pastor

As we enter the Guatemalan rainy season we have to be particularly careful with microorganisms that prosper in humid conditions. It’s better to take preventative measures, and if you prefer natural medicines you’ll be pleased to know that Guatemalan culture has a long tradition of the use of plants to prevent and cure disease.

Mayan priests have long used plants with curative powers, and this knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation.

When I was young my mother had a list of recipes to cure various types of illness. Most of these recipes could be made from plants we had in the garden. For example, for respiratory problems, the best cure available was always (and still is) tea made from common herbs like chamomile, verbena and leaves from lemon, fig and eucalyptus trees. If you’re making a tea like this, use hot water, but don’t boil the herbs as that will destroy their curative powers. For best results, drink them just before going to bed.

There are also herbs which work wonders for stomach complaints. Plants like Mexican Tarragon, boldo, sage, mint and aniseed are used for their strengthening of the digestive system and to regulate and strengthen the functioning of the stomach. They should be prepared in tea as noted above, and taken three times a day until you feel better.

For toothache, remedies like cloves are recommended. You grind up two or three into a paste and apply it on the painful area. For quick relief from urinary infections, you can drink a large quantity of a drink made by soaking barley, rice or corn hairs in water.

Leaves from avocado and wormseed plants can also be soaked to make an ointment to relieve skin complaints.

For nervousness and stress, leaves from the Common Rue, lime and orange plants are excellent. You prepare them like a tea and they act as a mild sedative.

There are many other natural cures available from Guatemalan plants, but the ones above are made from the most commonly found plants. All of the herbs and leaves listed above can be found in the Minerva market – preferably on weekdays, when there is a better variety to choose from.

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