Tuesday, January 24, 2012

South American Healing Herbs: Heal fatigue, weight loss, hormones and your mood!

The hot smooth dancers, spicy flavours and tastes, deep intense vino and a whole lot of sensual flare can describe the best of South America and it's vibrant culture.

AND that's not all! They are healing masters!

I'm in love with Latin America. I'm in love with their zesty personalities, their hot swagger, and their spicy enchiladas!

Yes, I learned that a spicy enchilada is a true art in itself, both making it and eating it! The soft cheese melts in your mouth, the intense spice warms the insides and as an amateur I make the whole messy ordeal quite an entertaining show for the real latino pro. Napkins, lots of napkins and the help of a mexican on how to handle it, did the trick ;)

Apart from food and hot groovy dance moves, the latin countries are a mecca for healing herbs and therapeutic holistic practices. They bred the original medicine men or shamans. These are the spiritual healers who convene with the land and the ether to bring balance to dis-eased states and constitutions.

When I was in Mexico last year, I had the privilege to explore shamanic medicine and witness some great healing ceremonies. The indigenous of the South are in tune with not only the land and their surroundings, but also with the intangible essence of spirit. I saw it, I felt it and I experienced it on a level so unimaginable it truly is hard to convey in mere words and on a flat screen.

Plants are healing powerhouses!

The southern indigenous are the true "doctors" and their extensive knowledge of the plant world is mind blowing. Plants are immensely curative and precious in their healing capabilities. They are full of the life source energy of the planet, as they connect both upwards taking sun energy from above, and root downwardly bringing up the rich minerals of the soil beneath them. Utilizing them is both an art and a science, and the latin indigenous have mastered it.

I've used a number of southern american herbs both personally and with my clients. From treating hormonal imbalance, to weight issues, to digestive disorders such as gallstones, to chronic depleted states of energy and vitality, the following herbs were the best in their curative potential for these maladies.


This is by far my most loved herb of the south. I LOVE MACA!!! I am crazy infatuated by it, so much so my friends think I'm now addicted and need rehab. There are worse addictions, and I know my limits. Seriously though, it is truly a highly nutrient dense herb that is an elixir for the massive fatigue epidemic we have here in the west.

It is indigenous to the high andes of Bolivia and Peru, where it has been used to enhance energy and hormonal function for centuries.

  • Maca regulates the whole endocrine (hormonal) system and as an adaptogen it will correct your hormonal system by either lifting a depleted state or balancing out an overactive one.

  • Thyroid: it has proven to heal the thyroid function whether it is in an overactive or under active state. It thus can help with weight gain due to hormonal imbalances, especially in women!

  • For women it will regulate estrogen and progesterone and thus relieve symptoms of PMS, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It is said that many indigenous women have fewer reproductive issues and also don't go into menopause till their late 60s!

  • Fibroids in women: a study by Dr. Viana Muller showed that women with large fibroids, that caused excessive menstrual bleeding, had incredible results by taking Maca daily. Their fibroids shrunk, their bleeding went to normal and they avoided hysterectomy surgery!

  • For men: Maca helps keep testosterone levels balanced, increases stamina, and has helped with erectile dysfunction. It has been hailed as the natural viagra of our times. Just be sure to take enough Zinc to help keep the prostrate healthy, and it will help the Maca assimilation as well.

  • CAUTION: Taking more is not better here. Less can be more and starting with a smaller dosage is advisable. Begin with 1 tsp a day. You can increase to 2 tsp. after a week or two. Also after being on maca for 2 months, take a whole week off and then begin again and you may need to only take it at a maintenance dose say 3-4 times a week.
  • If you have been in a chronic state of fatigue, and a depleted state it will take time to get back to your normal self. Patience, and the herb will help get you there ;)

On a personal note:

Maca has been one of the most effective healing herbs I have taken. It has brought my adrenal health and whole energy level back to an amazing state. I've taken many herbs and supplements, and nothing has come to be as effective as maca for treating low energy and a depleted iron state. This coupled with Spirulina has been miraculous for me. It did take a full 2 months to feel restored, but even after the first month my sleep, my energy and whole sense of vitality improved significantly!

Camu camu:

This is the sour power berry of the south. It is one of the highest source of pure Vitamin C in the plant world. It is thus a great anti-bacterial and anti viral supplement that supports and strengthens the immune system. It has been shown to treat even severe cases of herpes, both oral and genital outbreaks with great results.

  • Depression and Anxiety disorders: Camu camu has been used for depression and alleviating mood disorders. According to Dr Muller: " It has phytochemicals which clinically have been shown to change mood within a few hours. It can help lift depression and greatly reduce anxiety even the same day it is started. Only a tiny amount is needed--two capsules taken with water on an empty stomach twice daily or 1/4 tsp. taken in water twice daily."

Chanca piedra:

Just as the spanish name suggests, this herb "breaks stones". So it has been effectively used for those that have the tendency to develop gall stones. It has been mainly beneficial for calcium stones formed by the gallbladder, however it has helped also to support t

he liver and prepare it for gallstone release. It is less invasive than the more popular grapefruit/lemon juice olive oil cleanse. According to Dr. Muller

"Three cups a day of chanca piedra (break-stone) tea on an empty stomach for three weeks is usually very effective as a liver flush and will take out any gall stones or kidney gravel (smaller than stones) as well. At the same time, it will clean up the intestines. It truly is one of the most restorative herbs to come out of the rainforest. "

Also as a liver cleanser, it can help those looking to lose excess weight. Often times a sluggish liver can prevent even the most dedicated dieter from seeing results.

Yerba Mate:

This is one of the jewels of Argentina!

It is far superior to coffee for enhancing energy, giving you that jump you desire in the morning, and definitely improves mental focus and clarity. The beautiful thing about Mate, is that it actually elevates your energy without causing a blood insulin (sugar) crash an hour later.

It can help you power through a hard workout in the gym, or tough morning in the office, and then gradually taper off leaving you feeling good and calm even. Coffee can't even try to do that. So I've begun replacing my coffee with Mate tea and the results are truly amazing! I feel alert, without the jitters, and I can power through longer than with caffeine from java.

Weight loss: I know many of you are looking for anything that can help with weight loss, mate is also another great addition. It raises the metabolism, and your energy so you can get that daily work out in. It also helps regulate the appetite and often can diminish it dramatically. Works best on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning and at a midday.

Don't take it later than 3 or 4 pm, as it definitely can interfere with your sleep.

This is an extremely small sample of the numerous healing herbs of South America. I will continue to blog about others, as I come to research and learn them more extensively.

However the ones mentioned here are truly staples I would recommend you all keep in your medicine cabinet. Perhaps just not beside those nasty pharmaceutical concoctions. That would be almost sacrilegious, at least in my eyes. Just sayn'...

In health always,



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