Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize

Paperback | May 13, 2015

byMichael J. Balick, Rosita Arvigo

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Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically diverse nations in Central America. Over 3,400 species of plants can be found here, within six different ecological life zones. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 300,000 visitors annually, who enjoythe natural habitat and friendly people of this nation. Many of the plants of Belize have a long history of being "useful," with properties that have served traditional herbal healers of the region as well as modern medicinal applications.With Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize, Drs. Michael Balick and Rosita Arvigo give us the definitive resource on the many species of plants in Belize and their folklore, as well as the natural history of the region and a detailed discussion of "bush" uses of plants,including for traditional healing. Both Balick and Arvigo bring important perspectives to the project, Balick as ethnobotanical scientist from The New York Botanical Garden, and Arvigo as a former apprentice to a Belizean healer and an experienced physician. The book has been decades in the making,a culmination of a biodiversity research project that The New York Botanical Garden has had in motion since 1987. Drs. Balick, Arvigo and their colleagues have collected and identified thousands of plants from the region, and have worked extensively with hundreds of Belizean people, many of themherbal healers and bushmasters, to record uses for many of the species. This collaboration with local plant experts has produced a fascinating discussion of the intersection of herbal medicine and religion in the area, and these interviews are used to compliment and contextualize the numerous species accounts presented. The book is both a cultural study and aspecialized field guide; information is provided on plants used as food, medicine, fiber, in spiritual practices and for many other purposes. Richly illustrated with over 600 images and photographs, Messages from the Gods: A Guide to The Useful Plants of Belize will serve as the primary reference and guide to the ethnobotany of Belize for many years to come.

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From the Publisher

Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically diverse nations in Central America. Over 3,400 species of plants can be found here, within six different ecological life zones. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 300,000 visitors annually, who enjoythe natural habitat and friendly people of t...

Dr. Michael J. Balick is the Vice President for Botanical Science, Director, and Philecology Curator at the Institute of Economic Botany, at The New York Botanical Garden. Dr. Rosita Arvigo is a naprapathic physician with a clinical practice in Belize.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:600 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:May 13, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199965765

ISBN - 13:9780199965762

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction and BackgroundThe SettingOrigins of the Belize Ethnobotany ProjectProject ObjectivesTraditional Healing in BelizeMethodologyChapter 1 Figures2. Traditional Healers, Bushmasters and their Sacred RealmThe Discovery of Therapeutic PlantsGeneralist and Specialist Healers in BelizeCulture Bound Syndrome (Culturally Specific Illness) in BelizePreparation of Plant MedicinesThe Vanishing Medicine ChestProfile of a Traditional Healer's Practice: Don Eligio PantiFoods as TherapiesPoisons that HealPsychoactive SpeciesSolving a Mystery - CapocheChapter 2 Figures3. Traditional Healers, Bushmasters and their BackgroundsJuana and Antonio CucBarbara FernandezThomas GreenWinston HarrisDon Eligio PantiAndrew RamcharanPercival Hezekiah ReynoldsHortense RobinsonLeopoldo RomeroBeatrice WaightJuana XixIn Their Own WordsThomas GreenWinston HarrisDong Eligio PantiPercival ReynoldsHortense RobinsonLeopoldo RomeroBeatrice WaightThe Unbroken ChainChapter 3 Figures4. Plants of Belize and their Uses in Ancient and Contemporary Times: An Ethnobotanical CompendiumNon-Flowering PlantsFerns, Fern AlliesGymnospermsFigures- Fern and Fern Allies, GymnospermsFlowering PlantsMonocotyledonsFigures- MonocotyledonsDicotyledonsFigures- DicotyledonsBibliography