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Sustainability 2010, 2(11), 3383-3398; doi:10.3390/su2113383

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

1
Universidad Nacional, Escuela Ciencias Ambientales, Heredia, Apdo 86-3000, Costa Rica
2
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, 30 Marie Curie, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6N5, Canada
3
Belize Indigenous Training Institute, Toledo, Punta Gorda, Belize
4
Q’eqchi’ Maya Healers Association, Toledo, Punta Gorda, Belize
5
Herbario Juvenal Valerio Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional, Escuela Ciencias Ambientales, Heredia, Apdo 86-3000, Costa Rica
6
Center for Healing Across Cultures, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, CB 138, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA
7
School of Health Sciences, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, HS 101, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA
8
Naturaleza Foundation, 11860 Clifton Blvd., Lakewood, OH 44107, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 August 2010 / Revised: 22 October 2010 / Accepted: 27 October 2010 / Published: 28 October 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Futures)
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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.
Keywords: Q’eqchi’ Maya; traditional healing knowledge; traditional botanical knowledge; medicinal plants; indigenous garden; biological conservation; cultural conservation; sustainability Q’eqchi’ Maya; traditional healing knowledge; traditional botanical knowledge; medicinal plants; indigenous garden; biological conservation; cultural conservation; sustainability
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Rojas, M.O.; Collins, S.; Cal, V.; Caal, F.; Knight, K.; Arnason, J.; Poveda, L.; Sanchez-Vindas, P.; Pesek, T. 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. Sustainability 2010, 2, 3383-3398.

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