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Maya medicine

60 second histories

This video covers:  Medicine, doctors, midwives and healers; also a look at the illnesses and treatments they used.

Maya doctors, midwives and healers are mostly women, like me, who have a good knowledge of medicine. We can diagnose what’s wrong with a patient, but curing them can be a bit more difficult. I grow herbs and plants in a special botanical garden, which I then sell in the market place. I use lots of different plants to treat a large number of illnesses, including snakebites and fever but many of these medicines taste so awful I have to sweeten them first with cocoa and vanilla to make them edible. I use snakeskin and snake flesh to cure some ailments and smoking tobacco helps to clear the head, although some people smoke simply for pleasure. If you had malaria, I would prepare a medicine called quinine, which is collected from the bark of a cinchona tree, but for stomach pains I would use snakeroot and for coughs and fevers, a herb called pudding pipe-tree. We medicine women are also expert beekeepers you know and thankfully have managed to raise stingless bees whose honey we collect and use as a form of antiseptic for wounds.
Ancient Maya
Medicine & health
Maya Woman
Key words: 
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