Medicinal plants of Nosara
What if the herbs and plants grown in the surrounding environment could cure us of all kind of ailments, ranging from heart problems to the common cold. The Costa Rican environment is a veritable pharmacy of natural offerings. All you need to know is where to look. The following is a short list of some of the more common plants that are known to treat certain ailments, and can be found growing right there in your back garden.
Habitat: This herb stretches throughout Mesoamerica at all altitudes. Once you know what you are looking for you’ll most likely see it everywhere, ranging from deep jungle to back yards.
Description: The entire plant usually grows no more than 1.5 – 2 meters, and is distinguishable by its dark stem, serrated green leaves, and small, and white and purple flowers.
Preparation: Throw a good handful of leaves and stems into around a liter of water and bring it to the boil. Voila!
Medicinal properties: This plant is famed for its capacity to induce relaxation, and help with any digestive issues. It is said to be an aid in the treatment of colds, liver problems, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Habitat: The mint plant grows all over South and Central America. It can be found at all altitudes, and in all different environments from the forest to the side of the road.
Description: The mint plant is a bush. It can be identified by tiny, green, circular leaves, and small white flowers.
Preparation: Pick it, wash it, throw it in boiling water, and leave it for a few hours.
Medicinal properties: Mint is considered one of the most useful medicinal herbs. It is rich in menthol oil, which is known to rid the intestinal tract of harmful bacteria. It is also considered a digestive aid, and a powerful nerve calming compound.
Name: Spiral flag. (Costus Spicatus) – Caña Agria.
Habitat: Spiral flag is common throughout Costa Rica, and has a habitat that stretches throughout Central America. It can be found in moist, shaded areas between sea level and 1000 m.
Description: Spiral flag is a medium sized plant with large leaves, a distinctive green stem, and purple offshoots growing at the tip of the stem. It has medium, sized white flowers.
Preparation: Remove the leaves, chop up the stems, place them in around a liter of water, and leave overnight to infuse. Although spiral flags medicinal properties are famed, its taste is not so popular. Consequently, many people mix with pineapple or orange juice.
Medicinal properties: Spiral flag is known for its ability to aid kidney ailments, skin disorders, and eye problems.
Name: Carpenter´s Bush (Justicia Pectoralis) – Tilo o Tila.
Habitat: This plant is native to Central America. It is also easily grown in homes and gardens.
Description: Small plant with lots of light green leaves, and small light purple flowers.
Preparation: Take a bunch of either fresh or dried leaves, throw them in a liter of water, bring to the boil, and then leave to sit overnight in a closed container. Suggested intake is between 1-2 cups per day.
Medicinal properties: Many Costa Ricans use Carpenter’s Bush in the treatment of pulmonary problems, as well a sedative and sleeping aid.
Habitat: Ginger originally comes from the tropical rainforests of the Indian subcontinent, but is thought to have migrated west during the early spice trade, and is known to have been popular with both the Ancient Greeks and the Romans.
Description: Look for bright green stems, with bulbous flower pods at the end. Ginger can be found underground at the root of this plant.
Preparation: Chop it up and throw it in. Ginger can be cooked or eaten raw in a huge array of things from tea to curry, and much more.
Medicinal properties: Ginger has been used worldwide for centuries as both a universal medicine and a herb. It is antibacterial, antiviral, and can help prevent and treat infections. It is rumored to aid sore throats, flu, colds, and bladder, circulatory, kidney and digestive problems. It is also a mild natural stimulant.
Habitat: Although tumeric is native to the indian subcontinent, it now grows all over Costa Rica, including very likely somewhere in you own back yard.
Description: Like ginger, tumeric is a root. Look for bright green stems, with bulbous flower pods at the end. Tumeric can be found underground at the root of this plant.
Preparation: Chop it up and throw it in. Ginger can be cooked or eaten raw in everything from herbal tea to smoothies.
Medicinal properties: In many traditions, the medicinal applications of this commonly found root are thought to stretch back over 6,000 years, with evidence of its use throughout traditional cultures all over the world. Its antioxidant properties are thought to purify the blood, relieve liver, stomach and indigestion problems, liver and gallbladder diseases, and treat sprains, inflammations, infections, and bruises.
Habitat: Originally from India, lemongrass grows easily and abundantly all over Costa Rica and Latin America.
Description: Easily distinguishable by its long, green, thin leaves that grow upwards and outwards.
Preparation: Its citrus tones make lemongrass a popular ingredient in tea.
Medicinal properties: Lemongrass has been scientifically proven to have antifungal properties. it is used to treat colds, flu, gastrointestinal disorders, nervous conditions, pain and inflammation.
Do you know any other medicinal plants? Share with us how to use them.