The oldest book known on the subject of healing with medicinal plants in Mesoamerica is the Badianus Manuscript produced in 1552, the work of two young Aztecs, carefully hand-written in Latin and illustrated in color. Since then, traditional healers, especially women, have kept the indigenous knowledge alive through oral transmission and practice within their families and communities.
Medicinal Plants used in northern Guanajuato is a beautifully illustrated bilingual Spanish and English book fresh off the press (July, 2012) that documents some of the herbal remedies still used in the central high plains of Mexico. During the summer of 2011, Dr. Rosita Arvigo interviewed twenty-four traditional healers, ranging in age from 38 to 94 years old, in the municipalities of San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, and San Diego de la Unión. In total, she collected 107 plants, and selected forty-eight species that grow wild and/or in gardens. In addition to the indigenous plants brought by the healers to the interviews, the book includes common plants known and used by the author.
The text includes easy-to-prepare home remedies using huizache, aloe vera, mesquite, corn, basil and thyme, just to name a few, with descriptions of dosage, preparation and administration. The plants in the book can be purchased from herbalists, found growing in the streets, the countryside, the Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, and in pots and courtyards throughout the region.
The finely rendered pen-and-ink drawings by artist Alifie Rojas are works of art that make the book not only useful and interesting but also a collector’s keepsake.
The Centro de Desarollo Agropecuario (CEDESA), a grass-roots community development training center in Dolores Hidalgo, was the organization through which the research was conducted. Rosita Arvigo, DN, author of the book, is a part-time resident of San Miguel and author of five other books on medicinal plants and traditional healing of the Maya. Alifie Rojas, the talented illustrator, and Lilia Trapaga, the translator are residents of San Miguel. Designer and project coordinator, Holly Yasui, works with CEDESA in Dolores Hidalgo. Vía Orgánica and the Organic Consumer’s Association of America (OCA) shepherded the project through the printing process in the U.S. and are helping in the distribution of the book. The generous financial support of the Gildea Family Foundation made this project possible.