First, we visited the poor and welcoming rural community of Miraflor, a two-hour pickup ride up a rough mountain road from the town of Esteli. Our gracious host families welcomed us with open arms, humbly providing hearty Nicaraguan meals, good company and simple sleeping spaces for a few nights.
Soon after arriving in Miraflor, the mist and cooler mountain temperatures brought on some congestion in my sinuses so my host mom quickly went into her backyard to harvest a handful of herbs including orange tree leaves and wormwood. She boiled the herbs with garlic cloves and made me a strong tea that kicked out my sinus congestion in just 3 glasses. Below is a picture of Rafaela making the tea for me while she prepares corn tortillas in her kitchen. Everything was cooked and re-heated on the wood fired stove top to her left. The chickens and dogs running around would frequently get shoed out as she cooked and her 3 year-old grandson Jonatan played on the dirt floor with a handmade toy truck.
Some of the herbs used here are; wormwood, cornsilk, parsely, peppermint, lemongrass and many more that I will add with the latin names once I am reunited with my field notes.
We also saw the potent datrura stramonium, a very effective acute asthma remedy when used correctly in low doses. We heard stories of local teenagers who had taken some and ran around mad and crazy for three days. There were many croton species trees that have a red sap that looks like blood as shown in the accompanying picture. The small fern below is placed in newly pierced earholes for 10 days to aid healing of the punctured tissues.
We had a great week of sharing herbal knowledge in class, case reviews and with each patient the team saw. The herbal team brought with them more than $19,000 worth of donated herbs for our patients! I loved the collaboration we shared in formulating so many great remedies to help a variety of patients dealing with anxiety, body aches, influenza, digestive troubles, insomnia, depression, diabetes, high cholesterol and much more.
Below is a link to a video of this 3 week trip with Dr. Tania Neubauer, ND, Paul Bergner, director of the North American Institute of Mecical Herbalism and Herbalist Sevensong, director of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine. This service learning trip is offered across Nicaragua typically annually. If you are interested in learning more, check out the NAIMH's website by clicking on the name above.
Video Link: www.somebodi.es/hrb/todo.mov