Introduction

How many of us have taken time in our life to stop and contemplate a sunset or the simple, astounding beauty of a flower at our side. With this compilation of information about the medicinal plants used by the Huetar indigenous people, a culture that has been here in our territory for ages, we can come to appreciate the living and non-living world that surrounds us. Thanks to the spiritual teachings about the significance of medicinal plans and the beings that contribute to our physical, mental, and spiritual equilibrium our tangible and in-tangible connection becomes evident.

The importance of understanding the plants that surround us can be summarized as follows: More than 90% of the calories consumed by humans around the world come from 80 species of plants; about 4.5 billion people (80% of the world population) still use plants as their primary source of medicine; about 30% of the pharmaceutical products on the market have been developed from plants and animals (Carrillo 2003).

The cultural importance of medicinal plants is not part of the economic vision of the large pharmaceutical companies. If the conservation effort also ignores the traditional knowledge of indigenous cultures, we may manage to save our last virgin rainforests, but we would lose the valuable information about the resources protected within the forests, information that could help humanity in the fight against current and future diseases.

This document will introduce the reader, very simply, to the world of the Huetar culture in Quitirrisi, including aspects of its indigenous people’s cosmo-vision of the world that surrounds them and the balance maintained with everything that nature provides. The reader will be able to understand: the concept of a medicinal plant, the way it should be collected, the optimum times for its collection, how it should be dried, how it should be prepared, the way it should be planted, the concept of an illness, the role of numbers in the indigenous culture and their relation to healing, the curative powers of animals and insects, the Huetar’s concept of animals and insects, which animals are used in healing, the role of stones and clay in the Huetar traditional medicine, and, primarily, the reader will be able to visualize and learn about the curative properties of 45 different plant species which are distributed throughout 30 plant families.

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