10 Belize Medicinal Plants That Heal, Soothe and Perhaps Cure
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the use of plants to heal – and in some cases cure – is a practice dating back to man’s first appearance on earth. Over time, Belize has gained a reputation for medicinal plant diversity, a shared legacy passed down by the nation’s earliest inhabitants, the Maya.
Used in concert with rites and rituals, forests and jungles filled with all manner of herbal plants were harvested, eaten and used as poultices to heal skin-related ailments. Growing in abundance throughout the nation’s rainforests, these 10 medicinal plants are but a sampling of Belize’s amazing all-natural “medicine chest.”
1. St. John’s Wort, a shrub common to the tropics, thrives on Belize savannas where perfectly-balanced soil helps this herb proliferate. An effective antidepressant for those suffering from mild to moderate symptoms, St. John’s Wort is sold as capsules, tablets, tinctures and teas if you can’t get to Belize to pick it.
2. Aloe grows wild throughout Belize. It’s an ideal remedy for burns and wounds, reducing infection risks and treating constipation. Aloe also has antiviral properties, but for sunburned Belize tourists, nothing works better to soothe the pain.
3. Ginger root has deep roots in China as well as Belize where it is used by herbalists to remedy digestive problems, nausea and gastrointestinal ailments. Additionally, ginger is often used to treat toothaches, headaches, fever and body aches.
4. Traditionally served as a tea, Lemongrass soothes stomachs and intestines, relieves cramping and flatulence. It is also a fever-reducing herb that helps ease arthritis pain when rubbed into painful areas of the skin.
5. While the name Jackass Bitters is comical, it’s a powerhouse herb used for repelling parasitic assaults. Made into a wine or a tea to rid the body of these invaders, it also works to heal skin infections and rid hair of lice.
6. Leaves of the soursop plant are used to make tea or a soothing skin remedy. When ingested, it can treat problems like ailing livers and bouts of urethritis. Applied to the skin, it can vanquish symptoms of eczema and rheumatism. You can also use soursop to get rid of bedbugs and head lice.
7. Calabash tree fruit is so powerful as a medicinal agent that it is used to induce labor, mediate menstrual cramps and treat headaches, dysentery and colds. This fruit also helps women’s reproductive systems return to normal after giving birth, but it’s to be avoided by women who are pregnant.
8. Wild yam is regularly used as a remedy for menstrual cramps and the pain and discomfort associated with gallstones. Wild yam may also act as an all-natural birth control method since its biological makeup contains steroids.
9. Snake plants look like snake skin so they’re hard to misidentify. Used for rashes and skin sores in humans, juice harvested from the leaves of this plant can be fed to chickens to help them remain disease free, say farmers who swear by this herb.
10. The shaggy bark of the Gumbo Limbo tree is peeled away, boiled in water and used on skin to relieve the pain and discomfort of skin sores, sunburn, insect bites and rashes. Prepared as a tea, the bark solution relieves symptoms associated with backaches, urinary tract infections, colds, flu, and fevers.