Costa Rica truly is a heaven for natural medicine. You can find, in this paradise, more than one thousand plants, trees, fruits and herbs that can improve your health in accordance with traditional methods of preparations.
The Costa Rica Medicinal Plants Tour, offered by Costour, provides an opportunity to participants who want to know more about the healthy benefits of these long time practices in Costa Rica. On this tour, people get to discover, identify, touch, smell and sometimes taste Mother Nature’s gift to health and humanity in the company of a guide/biologist for whom Medicinal Plants are not only a passion but also a lifetime practice and way of life.
Here is a list of 10 Medicinal Plants you may encounter along this Natural Tour with Costour:
Chan (Hyptis suaveolens)
The flower is very common in Guanacaste. It can be found at low elevations on the Pacific slope. The Costa Rica name is derived from the indigenous Térraba word – tsian-ko. Traditionally, chan seeds have been used to make a mucilaginous beverage that relieves indigestion, gastritis and constipation. Chan leafs are prepared as an infusion that has been reported to help reduce high blood pressure.
Broom Weed (Sida rhombifolia)
It grows across Costa Rica in pastures, along roadsides and in numerous backyards. In the past, this plant was used to make brooms (hence the name) but is was also regarded as an effective medicine for several illnesses. The tea is reported to be a good skin wash for infections or other injuries. Drinking the tea is believed to help alleviate colds and flu, cough, fever, and burning urine.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp)
The Hibiscus is considered mainly an ornamental plant. Some people eat the nutritious leaves and flowers or use them as medicine. The leaves make an interesting addition to any salad, the colorful flowers, which are also edible, are used to decorate servings or food. The leaves also provide relief for painful menstruation. Using the leaves and flowers together you can make a tea that helps staunch excessive menstrual flow and prevent postpartum hemorrhages and miscarriage.
Noni (Morinda citrifolia)
Noni is native to the islands of Polynesia and has been growing now in Costa Rica for quite some time. It has been propagated as a medicinal plant in villages and home gardens along the coastal regions of Guanacaste and Costa Rica.
Reportedly used as a tonic for a wide range of illnesses. The ripe fruit is sometimes used to make poultice for facial blemishes. The fruits is also used to relieve symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, rheumatism, and the chronic illnesses of old age. The fruit juice is also an excellent way to remove head lice. Now a popular juice, it can be found on many markets or supermarkets in Costa Rica.
Mimosa (Mimosa pudica)
It grows at lower elevations in pastures, roadsides and lawns all across Guanacaste and Costa Rica. Mimosa as a reputation as a sedative, pain reliever, and sleep aid. Traditionally in Guanacaste, it has been used to treat toothaches. To alleviate nervous problems and insomnia, add powder made from the leaves to food and feel the benefits.
Sansevieria (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Costa Rican commonly call this houseplant Lengua de Suegra (Mother in Laws Tongue). The greenish white flowers, which occur in racemes, give off a fragrant scent. This plant is associated with a number of tropical legends and folk remedies. In many regions, it is considered a useful treatment for venomous snakebites and skin conditions such as sores and rashes.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
Cilantro, or Coriander, is originally from the Old World; early European settlers introduced the herb to the neotropics. In Costa Rica, it grows at most elevations and is quite widespread across the country. You may call it the national herb of Costa Rica. It is found in many Tico meals such as the famous Gallo Pinto.
Cilantro is one of the most nutritious edible herbs, its seeds and leaves have been used for thousands of years as seasoning. Used regularly, Cilantro acts as effective preventive medicine, but it can also be used to treat an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
Papaya (Carica papaya)
Papaya is actually an herbaceous perennial plant and not a tree. The pulpy stem has deep, palmate leaves on long stems. It is effective in treating a wide range of digestive problems – indigestion and constipation for example. It can also be used to treat liver problems and to lower high blood pressure. It may also be used as a diuretic for the kidneys. The sap of the trunk is said to be useful in treating warts.
Yucca (Yucca guatemalensis)
People in Costa Rica commonly plant yucca to make living fences around fields and homes. The beautiful flowers of the plant have medicinal properties and are also a tasty ingredient in several Costa Rican dishes. They contain bitter constituents said to be useful as a stomach tonic. The leaves are employed as a diuretic and for the treatment of colitis. Commercial medicinal products made from this plant are now available in North America.
Gumbo Limbo Tree (Bursera simaruba)
This tree that is used in Costa Rica to create living fences that borders pasture lands but in fact, it has a lot more to offer. Costa Rican also call this tree – the Tourist Tree – because the tree looses its bark in a flack fashion that ressembles a human loosing skin from a sunburn.
It is considered to offer more than 50 medicinal virtues. Some people ingest the bark of this tree as an emergency decoction to treat fever diarrhea, vomiting, internal parasites, kidney and bladder problems, infections, skin problems, colds and flu, headaches and sunstrokes. Soaking in a bath of the tea is said to treat skin infections and rashes.
The numerous Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica are nor only fascinating but also very important. Many of the medicinal recipes are passed along from generation to generation. Costour is pleased to offer this unique and fascinating tour that brings people to the heart of the Pura Vida culture and traditions.
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