Everyone is worried about healthcare these days, aren’t you? No wonder. We’re constantly bombarded and brainwashed by pharmaceutical ads telling us we’re sick. The medical industry has changed drastically since the horse and buggy days when the local Doc would ride out to your log cabin to deliver a baby. They are no longer about finding cures but rather about treating symptoms that keep you hooked on high-cost meds that only mask the problem. Their bottom line is profit, not your health.
What if remedies for some of your ailments are just steps away, right in your own kitchen or right around the corner at your local grocery store? For thousands of years cultures around the world have relied on herbs and natural remedies to heal themselves. My great-grandfather was a curandero (folk healer), and as a 10-year-old child I remember watching people line up outside his front door in El Paso, Texas to seek help for their ailments. Herbs and plants were his mainstay and people always walked away with genuine gratitude.
David, my husband of 44 years, and I love to eat healthy food. It’s important to care for your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. Why not have an amazing life while you’re here?
As it turns out, Costa Rica is a Garden of Eden full of medicinal plants and herbs. Guess what? You may already have several Costa Rican medicinal plants on hand. You’ve probably used medicinal plants without even knowing it. Here are a few of Costa Rica’s medicinal plants we enjoy that help us stay healthy.
I know cilantro isn’t everyone’s favorite herb. People either love it or hate it. However, after you read this, maybe you’ll come to appreciate it for its medicinal properties. As a Mexican, I grew up eating cilantro in countless savory dishes. Here in Costa Rica, it’s called culantro and we have two varieties; the small-leafy one you may be familiar with, and a long, broad-leafy one with serrated edges. They both grow wild all over Costa Rica and are packed full of antioxidants, an effective cleanser that hugely benefits the digestive system. Cilantro actively treats stomach ailments such as a pesky upset stomach and even more severe conditions such as diarrhea and vomiting. The preparation is simple, just make a tea and sip it. For prevention and pleasure, toss cilantro into a variety of dishes including veggies, rice, guacamole, pasta, salsa, soups or tacos.
Ginger is a magical herb with many applications. Ginger is chock full of antiviral and antibacterial properties to help prevent infections. Slice it and steep in hot water to make a tea or toss it into your next Asian dish. For a sore throat, suck on a piece of peeled ginger for soothing relief. My friend drinks ginger tea as a substitute for coffee and it puts pep in her step. Use ginger to prevent or heal from a cold or the flu. It has been known to cure kidney and bladder issues, morning sickness, and motion sickness. I suffer from seasickness and feel nauseous even on land when someone does that wavy thing with their hand while talking about seasickness. I also get sympathetic seasickness. If someone runs to the side of the boat to barf – I’m right there with them. Ginger is my trusted companion whenever I set foot on a boat. I chew on slices of raw ginger root and it works every time. A cup of shredded ginger in a hot bath is a favorite for body and mind. Oh, the fragrance is delightful, and it will leave you feeling recharged and invigorated.
Mint not only smells and tastes good, but it has medicinal properties too. Steep mint leaves in hot water and drink it as a hot or cold tea. Mint helps prevent cavities and is found in mouthwash recipes dating back centuries. Mint contains menthol oil that calms the nerves, keeps a balance of good bacteria in your digestive system, and aids in overall digestive health. A favorite here in Costa Rica is lemonade blended with ice and mint.
Does this surprise you? It turns out one of my favorite smoothie ingredients is incredibly good for you, like a medicine. Pineapples are a terrific source of Vitamins A, B, and C. If you suffer from arthritis or Inflammation, blend up a pineapple smoothie to ease the discomfort. A pineapple smoothie is super after a hard workout at the gym. It boosts the immune system and cuts recovery time.
Papaya is one of the most commonly grown fruit in Costa Rica, next to the pineapple. Have you ever seen a papaya tree? The fruit grows in big clumps out of the top of the trunk just below its peculiar, snowflake-shaped leaves. It reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Papaya is a diuretic, it eases digestive problems, constipation, and kidney issues. Papaya also lowers blood pressure naturally and is rich in fiber and Vitamin A. Papaya keeps you looking younger with its miraculous anti-aging properties. Add some extra papaya to your fruit salad or smoothie in the morning. A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away.
Did You Look in Your Fridge?
By now, you’ve probably searched your pantry and fridge to see which Costa Rican medicinal plants, herbs, and fruit you may already have at home. I hope this inspires you to think outside the pill box and use medicinal plants in your kitchen when appropriate. To state the obvious, if you break an arm, head for the doctor.
See You Soon
We offer wellness retreats at the Discover Beach House. Book your trip directly on our website. We look forward to your vacation with us. If you haven’t read my other articles, please check them out here. Please follow us on Instagram @discoverybeachouse. For more information or to check our availability, visit our website at Discovery Beach House. Watch our YouTube Channel for more details on Manuel Antonio, the best beach spot to vacation in Costa Rica.