The climate of Belize is tropical. The average monthly temperature is about 26 ° C with a slight change during the seasons. Bananas, cacti, palm trees, and calatheas grow there. However, a group of medicinal herbs and plants occupies a special place.
For many years, the rainforests of Belize have been nature’s apothecary for the local people. More than 20% of the world’s pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plants found in the jungles of Belize. “Bush medicine” uses various plant roots, seeds, and barks to cure common diseases and prevent major illnesses.
The most renowned medicinal plant of Belize is "sorosi". The real name of the plant is Momordica Charantia. This is a vine up to 4 m in length - a common and popular vegetable in tropical Asia. Its fruits are bitter, rich in vitamins and iron. The raw juice of the plant is poisonous and is used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, some skin diseases, and diabetes.
Momordica contains a lot of iron, twice as much beta-carotene as broccoli; twice as much calcium as spinach; twice as much potassium as a banana. In addition, it stimulates digestion and appetite. It also prevents and treats malaria. Momordica Charantia has a hypoglycemic effect and serves as a folk remedy for type 2 diabetes, although further research is required.
According to a recent study by a group of scientists from the United States, Momordica’s juice is capable of destroying pancreatic cancer cells.
Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Dioscorea is effective as a calming and relaxing muscle remedy. It reduces headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, irritability, and improves mood, sleep, and memory.
It has a beneficial effect on the endocrine system and liver, improves digestion, and helps lower blood cholesterol.
Dioscorea extract has been the subject of extensive medical research, which showed the possibility of its usage to maintain the functions of the musculoskeletal system and general healing of the body.
Due to its unique properties, Dioscorea is a popular product for maintaining women's health, but since this plant is grown and processed in different ways, the content of the active substance (diosgenin) in it can vary significantly.
Jackass Bitters (Neurolaena lobata)
A popular local medicine for malaria, this plant is commonly harvested from the wild. It has yellow flowers and bitter leaves, which contain a powerful anti-parasitic agent.
Traditionally, the herb is taken internally as a tea or used topically to heal wounds and different infections.
Lemongrass is a perennial plant of the cereal family. There are at least 55 different types of it.
The composition of this plant includes antiseptics that have an anti-inflammatory effect. Useful constituents of lemongrass are fatty acids. In addition, it contains many vitamins (the entire spectrum of groups B and C), nicotinic acid, as well as trace elements necessary for the health of the body: zinc, iron, calcium, selenium, copper, sodium, phosphorus, potassium.
Such a rich chemical composition of lemongrass provides many beneficial effects that it has on the human body. Traditional healers use lemongrass as a sedative. It is even possible to stimulate blood flow and lymph flow, strengthen the walls of blood vessels, improve lactation and increase the endurance of muscles and ligaments with the help of this plant. An extract from its stems is added to medicines for sinusitis, as well as to medicines created to prevent varicose veins and improve metabolic processes.
Lemongrass is a wonderful antidepressant that perfectly refreshes, relieves fatigue and maintains vitality in the body. This plant helps to concentrate and increase mental activity.
Lemongrass essential oil is used to treat oily skin and acne. It helps to narrow pores, relieves inflammation and gives skin elasticity and smoothness.
Flor De Jamaica (Sorrel)
More than 150 varieties of hibiscus are spread around the world. In Belize, it is called Sorrel or Flor de Jamaica.
Hot tea from these flowers is a faithful assistant to the body to restore immunity and confront viruses. Unlike black and green tea, you can safely drink it before bedtime.
To cleanse the liver and kidneys, drink a tincture of Flor de Jamaica with rose hips. This hot drink also treats nervous stress.
The absence of stimulating components in its composition makes tea a universal drink for both children and adults.
Soursop is a fruit tree that does not drop foliage regardless of the season. The health benefits of Soursop fruit are numerous. It successfully regulates the intestinal microflora, removes toxins and improves digestion. Dried powdered soursop helps with poisoning and digestive upsets.
It relieves inflammation and pain from arthritis. Ascorbic acid in soursop strengthens the body, improves the functioning of the immune system and makes a person stronger and more resistant to bacteria and viruses. The fruit has an antifungal effect. It is used in the treatment of ulcerative lesions of the skin. The antioxidants from soursop slow down the body's aging process. Riboflavin and ascorbic acid improve vision and prevent age-related changes.
The name of this flower in scientific papers is Sansevieria. Scientists have seriously studied the properties of this plant from the asparagus genus.
Sansevieria is used in cosmetology and substances obtained from this plant are vital components of the traditional medicine to treat inflammation of the oral cavity.
Its juice is a proven anti-inflammatory agent for otitis media and skin inflammation that accelerates wound healing, relieves itching, and has a slight analgesic effect.
It is believed that the scientific name of the plant (Zingiber officinale) came from “singabera”, which in Sanskrit means "horn-shaped root."
Ginger is beneficial for treating colds and helps to lose weight. Regular intake of ginger root stimulates cerebral circulation, improves attention and memory.
The plant contains vitamins A, B, C, trace elements magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. With regular use, the beneficial properties of ginger have a strong positive effect on the digestive system.
These are just the most common plants from a very long list of Belizean herbal medicines. In many cases, herbal cures are combined with mental and spiritual cleansing and healing practices.
Here are some useful links, for you to know more about the medical heritage that dates back to the ancient Mayans:
“There are many plant medicines that are available to us that have a lot of stigma around them that I hope, in the future, our medical community can look at, because I would absolutely go to those alternatives first before I went back to Western medicine.” Melissa Etheridge
Disclaimer: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific health claims for any products. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.
Jeza is one of the Phoenix Voyage mascots who is an elder... being that he is over 2000 years old!. He shares timely information regarding the wisdom of the elders and archaeological finds.