One of the most interesting things in my first week here has been learning about Belize’s numerous medicinal plants. They are all around – in the rainforests, in gardens, you even see them while driving along – different trees for different ailments and every ailment you can think of, from sunburn to toothache. It’s what the Maya used thousands and thousands of years ago – bush medicine. And today, Belizeans continue to use the very same plants and remedies. Who needs to go to the pharmacy when there’s a cure in the backyard?! Well, at least for small, common aches.
I can even recognize a few now without help. When they look like this one, below, it’s not very hard.
Called “Hot Lips” locally, this plant helps women with cleaning out or “expulsing” the placenta or afterbirth. The plant is crushed and boiled, and the resulting liquid i used as a wash. How appropriate that it should have the shape of a woman’s lips? God is a funny guy.
It’s also used as a painkiller for headaches, sprains, bruises and earaches. The more scientific name for “hot lips” is Psychotria poeppigiana.