Natural healing herbs of the Andes

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  1. Introduction to natural healing herbs of the Andes
  2. The Nomadic Kallawaya healers of Bolivia
  3. Totora reeds
  4. Copal
  5. Coca
natural healing herbs



The tropical Andes is the most diverse and richest source of fauna on earth, so obviously it's a great source of healing herbs.
Herbal medicine is very important part of Andes culture because often people can not afford medical care.

The Nomadic Kallawaya healers of Bolivia


Kallawaya healers The Kallawayas are traveling healers who are famous in south America for their knowledge of natural healing herbs.

Many of the Kallawayas understand how to use at least three hundred, the specialists know how to use six hundred herbs.

The kallawayas live in Bautista Saavedra which is northeast of Lake Titicaca. They travel all around Bolivia as well as Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru usually by foot.

Totora reeds



The Uros people of Bolivia eat the white bottom of totora reeds for the iodine, doing this prevents goiter. The reeds white area is called chullo.

They also use the reeds for pain relief; the reed is wrapped around the painful area to absorb it. Additionally they use the flower of the reed to make herbal tea.

If it is hot outside, they roll the white part of the reed in their hands and split it open, placing the reed on their forehead. In this stage, it is very cool to the touch.

The white part of the reed is also used as a hangover remedy, it is also used as food.



copal Copal is a kind of resin which is created from plant sap. It is used as incense in Wairuru and Los Yungas area in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Interestingly enough the word Copal actually comes from the word copal it is a Nahuati word it means incense.

As well as being used for incense, it is also used to immobilize lesions and fractures and make plaster.

Boiled bark is employed to make a sweaty bath which is then used to treat rheumatism. Ground bark is soaked in alcohol and used to treat anemia.



Coca leaves contains cocaine and many other alkaloids. The UN lists coca as a controlled substance like opium or cocaine; however coca leaves have been used by the indigenous people of the Andes for centuries and is still very popular today.

Mummies dating back to three thousand years ago were found to have traces of coca.

There is a lot of archaeological evidence that dates coca leaf chewing as far back as the 6th century.

Traditionally cocoa has been used chiefly as a stimulant to combat hunger, thirst and fatigue.

It is also used to treat sores, wounds and rheumatism. Coca leaves are very good for altitude sickness.

Another of the natural healing herbs in the Andes is cat's claw

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