Sustaining Rainforest Plants, People and Global Health: A Model for Learning from Traditions in Holistic Health Promotion and Community Based Conservation as Implemented by Q’eqchi’ Maya Healers, Maya Mountains, Belize

Abstract

"The present work showcases a model for holistic, sustainable healthcare in indigenous communities worldwide through the implementation of traditional healing practices. The implementation of this model promotes public health and community wellness while addressing crucially important themes such as in situ and ex situ conservation of medicinal plant resources and associated biodiversity, generational transmission of knowledge, and the preservation of biological and cultural diversity for future generations. Being envisaged and implemented by Q’eqchi’ Maya traditional healers of the southern Maya Mountains, Belize, this model can be replicated in other communities worldwide. A ethnobotany study in collaboration with these healers led to collection of 102 medicinal species from Itzama, their traditional healing cultural center and medicinal garden. Of these 102 species, 40 of prior reported 106 consensus study plants were present in the garden. There were 62 plants not previously reported growing in the garden as well. A general comparison of these plants was also made in relation to species reported in TRAMIL network, Caribbean Herbal Pharmacopoeia (CHP), the largest regional medicinal pharmacopoeia. A relative few species reported here were found in the CHP. However, the majority of the CHP plants are common in Belize and many are used by the nearby Mopan and Yucatec Maya. Since these 102 species are relied upon heavily in local primary healthcare, this Q’eqchi’ Maya medicinal garden represents possibilities toward novel sustainable, culturally relative holistic health promotion and community based conservation practices."

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Keywords

sustainability, Maya (Native American people), traditional knowledge, medicine, plants, conservation, culture

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