This booklet is an important contribution to the documentation of the ethnobotany of the Mayan Indians of Belize (formerly British Honduras). Originally intended as a guide for botanists and eco-tourists in Belize, the book is based on the work of Rosita Arvigo and her husband, Gregory Shropshire, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Garden, as they attempt to document the vanishing knowledge of Mayan Indian healers in the area. Short one-page monographs give information on each herb's scientific name, plant family, description, habitat, and traditional uses, and scientific research gathered from the NAPRALERT database at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The traditional uses are compiled from reports from traditional healers and personal observations by the authors of use of the plants by indigenous populations of Belize. The book begins with a glossary which includes botanical and medical terms as well as local Spanish and Indian words used in the text. The authors have made a valuable contribution to the literature on ethnobotany of both rainforest medicinal plants as well as the little-known practices of healers of this beautiful region. Future generations of ethnobotanists, researchers, herbalists, and others interested in traditional medicine, preservation of culture, and new drug discovery owe a large debt of gratitude to Drs. Arvigo and Balick for their efforts in documenting this endangered wisdom.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.