Indigenous Health Manuals, A Contribution to the Pandemic

Ka Kuxtal Much' Meyaj A.C

Ka Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C

One of the primary sources of ancestral knowledge, treasured by humanity, is herbal medicine. Traditional indigenous medicine has its main foundation in the learning and millennial teaching of the healing power of nature, mastery in the use of infusions, poultices, mixtures , and remedies created with various plants, barks, leaves, roots, petals, juices, that applied in time, can alleviate, help, or co-administer along with other allopathic, homeopathic, or traditional treatments. In this pandemic, indigenous peoples are recovering their ancestral heritage and sharing it generously with humanity.

Although, in principle, it must be explicitly said that there is currently no cure for COVID-19, there are some natural remedies, herbs, that can help alleviate symptoms, and even reinforce the immune system, recovery, and recovery process after infection. This is where this knowledge helps, and it is possible to responsibly recommend the use of indigenous herbalism (which is the precursor base of modern chemical medicine).

At Awasqa, we are trying to retrieve and disseminate these materials to provide community support, offer wisdom and comfort to those who need it. Below, we summarize a couple of materials, one of traditional herbal medicine, Plants of the Mayan People in the Times of COVID-19, Caring for the Respiratory System and Strengthening the Immune System of the organization Maya Peninsular Ka Kuxtal Much ‘Meyaj AC, which invited us to share it with all of you:

Medicinal Plants: An Intro

“We want to start by clearly saying that this document does not contain any medicine for COVID-19, as of this writing, May 2020, there is nowhere in the world any cure for COVID-19 caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. Therefore, we want to make it very clear that the prescriptions presented here should not be confused with a medication or treatment for COVID-19. In the event that any member of the community shows symptoms of said disease, the protocol indicated by the country’s health authorities must be followed.

Having made the above clarification, it is worth sharing the spirit of the document. Our indigenous communities have been historically and unjustly excluded from having decent health systems that we have a right to by law, yet in many of our towns we suffer from a lack of medical care, a lack of medicines, and difficulties in reaching the nearest health center. Not infrequently, this has led to the loss of human lives that could be saved if the right to health was guaranteed for our peoples.

Now, in times of this pandemic that continues to travel the world leaving pain and anguish for humanity, indigenous peoples will once again be the hardest hit if we do not take the determination to take care of ourselves, to protect ourselves, to feed ourselves, to heal ourselves in our hands.

Ka Kuxtal Much' Meyaj A.C

Ka Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C

For this reason, we urgently made this compilation of plants that are in our Mayan communities so that we can in the first instance strengthen our immune system, it is important that in these times we are healthy and well fed, on the other hand, it is important and necessary that the respiratory system, from the throat, nose, lungs, are healthy and strong. Flu is one of the most common diseases in our communities, but it is very important that we now address this situation.

Not only because in our communities there are no pharmaceuticals or because there are no doctors nor the health system that the state should guarantee, but also and above all, because it is necessary to recognize the strength that we have as a Mayan people to take care of life. Our presence in these times it is irrefutable proof that our grandparents and grandmothers knew how to take care of life in the face of infinite threats, this is one more caused by greed and ambition of some who put the lives of all humanity at risk.

It is our responsibility, from our communities, to take care of each other, to connect through solidarity and empathy, the mutual help that our ancestors taught us and that they themselves learned from nature. Our Mother Earth cares for us if we love her and respect her. She herself makes us strong and healthy to keep the memory of our people alive. We invite other indigenous peoples of the world to find their own medicines in their territories, to use, defend and protect them. ”

Educa Oaxaca on Community Health

From Chiapas, the organization Salud y Desarrollo Comunitario, A.C., shares, through Educa Oaxaca, a material that summarizes decades of experience in indigenous community health work in southern Mexico. The manual is called COVID-19. What to do if there is a sick person at home? It includes first aid sanitary instructions, to know how to take care of a patient in a rural environment, for those with mild symptoms, without a doctor, without medicine, and very possibly without running water. It even includes instructions for their eventual transfer to a hospital.

For indigenous peoples, the pandemic also contains the exponential increase in social, economic, and marginalization conditions that they historically face. In Chiapas, after the EZLN uprising, governments have tried to attend to the health of indigenous peoples, and have even gone so far as setting up hospitals with provisional infrastructure, which was removed after the official “inauguration photograph” leaving the buildings empty and without personnel or care. In the Yucatan Peninsula there is a historical marginalization and lack of medical care, as well as a lack of adequate hospital facilities. In general, there is no medicine, there are no pharmacies, there are no doctors, so survival is a product of the strength of the community itself.

It is that wisdom, that strength and resilience that they generously offer to other peoples, by sharing their wisdom, sister and brotherhood, to help those who are left behind, thanks to indigenous peoples and nations history, knowledge, and ancestral heritage.