Deforestation plays another huge threat to the precious ecosystem and traditional way of life in Belize. Luckily, the government has set land set aside for national reserve and there’s a lot of international interest from doctors, naturopaths, ethnobotanists, and yes, even pharmaceuticals, in preserving the country's rich culture.
Take amaranth for example. When we were on a horseback ride to the ruins, a local rancher told us how the Mayan staple and superfood amaranth was said to have been mixed with blood and eaten during ceremonies and was therefore banned by conquistadors. It’s taken generations for the cultivation of amaranth to regain popularity simply given the cultural history. He boldly predicted it to be the next kale. You heard it here first!
I also had a bit of a moment with cacao, which is grown in the south Belize. During my time at Naia Resort in Placencia, I used cacao from a nearby farm as a luscious plant skin treatment. After watching locals grind the cacao, make into the paste, and then further into a traditional, nutrient-packed drinking chocolate, I was amazed to see all the different ways plants can be used.
I’m not a doctor, nor do I claim to have any expertise in the field of plant healing, but I do have an innate curiosity about it. If this curiosity becomes infectious, perhaps we can save this beautiful way of life and find a way to mix a modern approach with a more traditional, holistic way of living. This immersion in West Belize brought me closer to understanding our relationship with nature and spirituality. These are deep connections that need to be celebrated and saved. If anything, I hope I've inspired you to take more nature walks, cultivate a garden, or pick up a few books on plant healing.
Curious how you can use traditional herbal and plant medicine in your own routine? Here area few herbs that can calm your anxiety, aid in digestion, and boost your immunity.