Herbal Remedies From Within the Indigenous Cultures of Peru – Natural Cures for Many Ailments
Peru remains a unique land filled with indigenous knowledge and fantastic natural beauty. Its diversity of landscapes and ecosystems means a vast plethora of plant species that are native to Peru. And it is for just this reason that the Peruvian people have such an impressive array of natural cures for anything from rheumatism to liver disease. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine uncovered a whopping 974 herbal preparations within the indigenous cultures of Peru, while another study found that 510 different plant species are used in natural Peruvian cures in the northern part of the country alone. Researchers theorized that these herbal cures dated as far back as the Moche period, beginning almost 2,000 years ago.
A 2011 investigation found that 96 species of plants in Northern Peru were being used as anti-infective herbal remedies at the time of publication. Considering that’s just in the northern part of the country, it’s fair to say that there’s plenty more where that came from.
Llanten, Plantago linearis, is a plant native to Peru and other parts of northern South America. Llanten is used as a cure for urinary tract infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis, asthma, bronchitis, conjunctivitis and a whole lot more. Research shows that both the whole fresh plant and the roots of llanten are used in traditional Peruvian cures, and can be applied as a poultice or salve for the cleansing of wounds to prevent infection.
Molle, Schinus molle or “Peruvian pepper” is an evergreen tree that grows to a height of around 50 feet (15 meters). Found in the arid Andean regions of Peru, the tree produces bright pink fruits that are often sold as “pink peppercorns” — although there’s no actual relation to real pepper. According to scientific sources, molle is something of a jack-of-all-trades in the remedy arena, and is traditionally used for vaginal infections, bronchitis, coughs, colds, chills, inflammation, cancer, tuberculosis and more. If just half of these claims are true, it seems this small evergreen would give any adaptogen a run for its money.
Peperomia galioides is a slender, ground-covering plant native to Amazonian Peru and other tropical regions of South and Central America. As with many such hardy plants of South America, the leaves and stems of P. galioides are loaded with active compounds that have been utilized by indigenous Peruvians for centuries.
A 2004 study, examined the medicinal potential of organic and water-soluble extracts of P. galioides. Researchers found that high levels of both grifolin and grifolic acid in the stem and leaves were responsible for the plant’s effective inhibition of infection, especially against Staph Infetion. Another study showed that this Peruvian plant could also exhibit strong antibacterial activity over Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease affecting over 12 million people worldwide.
Perezia pungens, A plant known as Lengua de Vaca to the native Peruvians, the fresh leaves of this plant have long been used as a way to cleanse surface wounds and prevent infection. Conveniently, the leaves can also be crushed up to form a poultice that reportedly prevents the peeling of skin after a sunburn.
Bixa orellana, Achiote, this shrub is one of the more famous of the natural Peruvian cures. It’s sometimes called the lipstick tree and is best known as the source of annatto, a natural orangey-red condiment. But beyond its culinary uses, achiote is also used to treat a number of common ailments. These include urinary tract infections, kidney inflammation, enlarged prostate, bronchitis and hemorrhages.
Matricaria chamomilla, Chamomile, otherwise known as manzanilla. While not native to Peru, traditional Peruvian cures using tinctures of the fresh whole plant are numerous. Chamomile is used for treating wound infections, vaginal cleansing and blood purification.
This is one Peruvian cure that everyone may have sitting around at home, so just steep a strong brew of pure chamomile tea.
While many of these Peruvian cures have been used for thousands of years, not all of them are necessarily safe or effective. Before using any of them, do your research — and if in doubt, ask your doctor! But chances are they won’t have heard of it.
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