Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way to Heal Your Body and Replenish Your Soul

Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way to Heal Your Body and Replenish Your Soul

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by Rosita Arvigo, Nadine Epstein

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Rainforest Healing from Your Home and Garden

  • Find alternatives to chemical anti-depressants and painkillers in your spice rack.
  • Learn about natural anti-itch salves for insect bites.
  • Soothe and relieve envy, grief, sadness, and fear the Maya way.
  • Rid your house of negative energy with a Maya cleansing ritual.
  • Try


Rainforest Healing from Your Home and Garden

  • Find alternatives to chemical anti-depressants and painkillers in your spice rack.
  • Learn about natural anti-itch salves for insect bites.
  • Soothe and relieve envy, grief, sadness, and fear the Maya way.
  • Rid your house of negative energy with a Maya cleansing ritual.
  • Try the easy-to-make bronchitis remedy.

Editorial Reviews

Michael J. Balick
Dr. Arvigo has been a conscientious student of her Maya teachers for nearly two decades. This book is a magnificent tribute to her teachers, providing useful information for all of us. The remedies are explained in a simple but comprehensive fashion, using plants that can be easily found...A wonderful compilation of fascinating reading. —The New York Botanical Garden)
Sandra Ingerman
Our disconnection from nature is a serious cause of illness. Rosita Arvigo and Nadine Epstein help us to remember our connection with plants that can heal us as the authors bring us back home to a sacred way of life.
Michael Harner
A stimulating, information-filled, and well-organized account of the main features of contemporary Maya folk medicine.
Patch Adams
Rosita, thank you for bringing these precious thoughts, so comprehensively done, to the healing world. Its banquet will feed our new hospital. If we are to survive as a species, it will be because ideas like these become important again.
Christopher Hobbs
A practical guide to healthy living and traditional herbal wisdom, blended artfully with an insightful view of common modern ailments. Full of stories; a refreshing view of wellness and sane living that is so needed today.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.54(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Introduction to Maya Medicine

Far too many people think of the Maya as a people from the past, perhaps because of all the attention focused on the fascinating cities that their ancestors left behind. I too am thrilled at the sight of the ancient temples, palaces, and mounds scattered throughout Belize and Central America. Ix Chel Farm, my home, is built on top of one.

Having lived among the Maya for thirty years, I can assure you that they are very much alive! Many of their twenty-eight languages are still spoken today throughout parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. In addition to their languages, some of their ancient traditions remain intact. Maya medicine is one of the richest traditions to have survived the destruction wrought by the Spaniards.

Maya architectural, astronomical, mathematical, and engineering feats have fascinated us for generations, but few people are aware of their sophisticated and effective medical system. When I first began working with Don Elijio in 1982, I was mainly interested in absorbing his knowledge of plants and herbal remedies so that I could incorporate it into my own healing practice. Although I had lived alongside the Maya and the Nahuatl Indians in southern Mexico for years, I knew next to nothing about their large body of medicinal knowledge.

Only gradually did it dawn on me that Don Elijio and the Maya had much more to offer than just plant knowledge. Indeed, their knowledge and use of plants is only one, albeit very important, part of their worldview.

Anthropologists considerMaya medicine a medical-religious system. In essence the Maya have a two-pronged approach to healing. They have remedies for a wide range of physical ailments that any individual or health practitioner would be pleased to add to a healing repertoire. As part of the visible world, physical ailments -- like stomachaches or infected wounds -- are handled with "naturalempirical" or "naturalistic" knowledge.

The Maya have equally effective remedies, however, for the ailments of the spirit that the human eye cannot see, such as sadness, grief, fright, and envy. They are part of the "magical-mystical" world, and have traditionally been the responsibility of the h'men. Maya healers believe that these ailments involving the soul and spirits are "supernatural" in origin, and that supernatural forces can both sicken and heal.

The natural and supernatural bodies of knowledge are intertwined. For example, Maya plant lore does not exist in a state of separation from the human soul. This concept is sometimes difficult for the modern mind, trained in separatist ideology from infancy, to grasp. The union of these two worlds allows Maya medicine to go beyond "modern medicine."

I am especially taken with Maya spirits, the concept of spiritual illness, and spiritual healing. I love the way the Maya spirits are an intimate part of daily life -- respected in so many activities, not just during a weekly appointment in a church or synagogue. Maya spiritual healing can help fill the emptiness and longing at the root of so much illness.

Over the years I have begun to find the "magical" side of Maya medicine extremely useful -- for both my patients and myself. The Maya paradigm has opened doors that I never imagined existed. Their ideas about spiritual illness have helped me understand why some people get well and some don't, even when their illnesses and treatments are the same.

There is plenty of room for this kind of wisdom in our modern culture. Since the 1960s Westerners have been storming the gates of Eastern healing traditions, and that intense interest has not subsided. We suggest that it would be wise to look south and add Maya wisdom to our banks of planetary knowledge.

Traditional healing is a tapestry that has been woven by humans throughout history. The patterns reverberate from culture to culture, and the themes are universal. Much of what you will read here about the Maya will resonate with what you know intuitively. Although the Maya contribution to the tapestry has been neglected, the colors and patterns remain, reflecting world wisdom for those who choose to see.

Every once in a great while the folly of one century becomes the common sense of the next. The time of the Maya has arrived. Time, you might say, has caught up with them. Or perhaps it is just that the rest of us have finally caught on.

There is a legend that the old godlike prophet-king of the Maya and Aztecs will return one day. He is known as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs and Kukulcan to the Maya. Both of these names refer to the "plumed serpent" or "feathered snake." The snake has been a symbol of medicine and healing power since ancient times for many cultures around the world, including the Maya.

This great god-king prophesied that white men would come to these lands on "the wings of a dove," and that men would lead them with two different feet. One foot would be that of a dove and the other that of an eagle. The white people would claim to be doves but would act like eagles. They would eventually steal the red man's land, religion, women, and dignity, and the ensuing period of slavery and suffering would last for hundreds of years.

Then one day other white men would appear with both feet like those of the doves, proclaiming love and brotherhood. These are the ones who would join the red man in an era of renewal, respect, and reverence for the nearly lost ancient ways. Gradually, says the prophecy, the red man will regain his former position and join the white men with the feet of doves in building a better world.

Rainforest Home Remedies. Copyright © by Rosita Arvigo. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Rosita Arvigo was born in Chicago and trained in the United States as a doctor of naprapathy. In addition to her natural healing practice in Belize, Arvigo is the founder of Belize's six-thousand-acre Terra Nova Medicinal Plant Reserve, the founder of Ix Chel Tropical Research Foundation, the cofounder of Rainforest Remedies, and the creator of the Panti Mayan Medicine Trail, a popular and educational tribute to Don Elijio

Nadine Epstein is a writer and illustrator. Their previous book together was Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer.

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Rainforest Home Remedies: The Maya Way to Heal Your Body and Replenish Your Soul 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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I need you
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book contains important information about natural treatments used by ancient Mayan Civilization to treat different kind of heath conditions.