The year 2012 has spurred interest in the Maya and the outlook toward this enigmatic civilization grows each day as we approach the winter solstice of 2012. In the Maya Heartland of Belize, the Maya are very much in our presence and we honor their hard work and dedication in contributing to Belize’s rich heritage.
On January 25, 2012, a Maya Healers Forum was held at Cahal Pech Village Resort in the town of San Ignacio, Cayo and the event was filled with traditional healing enthusiasts, herbalists, and a large group of Maya traditional healers.
“Although there are many modern pharmaceuticals circulating globally, there certainly is still room for traditional medicine. Presently, the Ministry of Health is planning and developing a policy for traditional medicine with FDA regulations”, said Mrs. Sharon Anderson of the Ministry of Health. This in itself is a great step that Belize will take to soundly provide traditional medicine to the Belizean public.
Dr. Rosita Arvigo, founder of the Ixchel Tropical Research Centre and apprentice of the late Don Elijio Panti was the primary coordinator of the event. She has been practicing Maya traditional healing for more than two decades and has established research and educational centers with over 300,000 medicinal plants which are all available to the public. Dr. Arvigo has also initiated the Rainforest Remedies, a cooperative enterprise which makes and markets herbal remedies in liquid form as well as dried medicinal leaves to make teas.
“Traditional healing is a system of healthcare which uses ancestral plants and healing vines of many roots”, says Dr. Rosita Arvigo. This form of healing must involve the act of religious prayer and spiritual well-being, and to the Maya, they honored their gods with prayers and thanked them for the remedies that cured and eradicated their illnesses.
“Sadly, 50% of Belizeans will take a trip to their healthcare doctor at the sign of an illness. If the doctor cannot cure the illness, they then turn to the traditional healer”, asserted Dr. Arvigo.
Guests at the event included the Q’eqchi Healers Association, Maya Traditional Healers, Maya Bonesetters, Traditional Medicine Entrepreneurs and young apprentices to Maya Medicine.
During the event, each participant provided the audience with healing stories and crucial knowledge of a wide range of medicinal plants.
Some healing plants mentioned at the forum were:
Ajenjo: its flowers can be dried and turned into a powder-like substance. This substance cures kidney disease, liver and pancreas diseases, plus much more. It doesn’t only calm the pain, but heals the sickness. Take a small teaspoon and eat it for 3 months.
Polly Red Head: its leaves can be boiled and used to treat skin problems, such as sores, rashes, burns, itching, fungus, cuts and insect bites.
Skunk Root: its leaves can be boiled as a tea for ulcers, constipation, colitis, delayed menstruation, nervousness, and depression.
Lemon Grass: its leaves can be boiled to soothe the stomach, reduce cholesterol levels, and to cool the body.
Nigel Encalada, from the Institute of Social & Cultural Research and NICH delivered the closing remarks and ended by saying that 2012 serves as an opportunity to demonstrate the fundamental contribution that the Maya have made to the world.