While the Achuar were the peoples that we got to spend the most time with in the Amazon, we also did a quick visit to the Quechua in Sarayuka.
After drinking guayusa tea mixed with a number of barks in the morning, I got a tour of their herb garden that surrounded the hut.
They grow a number of herbs, that are not located right in the surrounding wild area for use. They also commented that some of this is becoming lost knowledge as many young people aren’t as interested in pursuing the healing path.
I can only remember a few of the plants, but there were some fascinating ones.
The first was jungle garlic. I chewed on the leaf and it tasted just like garlic. It probably contains the same or very similar compounds like allicin, known for immune system supporting effects. Here the leaves are used instead of the root bulb.
They had ginger that was pretty similar to what we have back home. I took a small piece of that to give to anyone that might be nauseous on our flight that was to come later that day. Here’s the runway.
There were a number of plants that were used for bites and stings. Of course, the ayuhuasca vine was growing up against a tree. (I’ll be sharing that story in writing with you soon, though you can hear about it in this podcast.)
That also had a coca plant. This is the leaf from which cocaine is derived, so it is illegal in the states.
I’ve never had cocaine but was excited to try the natural form so I chewed on a couple leaves. It is stimulating and often used to help with altitude sickness. Between the caffeinated guayusa and that I was certainly buzzing that morning.
Later in my trip I also had the opportunity to drink tea made from it as well.
To me coca very well exemplifies the difference between using herbs as whole plants and isolated extremely concentrated extracts turned into drugs.
Unfortunately, time was short there, and I didn’t get many pictures. But I encourage you to learn a little bit about herbs everywhere you go and every chance you get.
Want something else that is stimulating? Try rhodiola!