“In the forest, we have a pharmacy,” said Hemiterio Quispe Hidalgo, enthusiastically gesturing to the wealth around him. “We need to protect it.”
Hemiterio—an employee at Albergue Refugio Amazonas, a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ lodge in the Madre de Dios region of Peru—had just taken a group on a guided walk through his hotel’s medicinal forest.
Here, we share nine of the most incredible plants he pointed out during the walk and the various ailments Hemiterio said people use the plants to address:
- Cordoncillo has anesthetic properties. Chew its leaves and your mouth will quickly go numb.
- Shapumvilla is said to have coagulant properties and is used to stop bleeding.
- The root of the wasai tree is good for the kidneys. These leaves are ground up and prescribed as a diuretic.
- Pusangade venado is thought to bring good luck to hunters. Its leaves are also used as camouflage.
- The bark of the tawari tree is used to treat infection, cancer, tumors, and inflammation.
- The aromatic sodo plant is thought to help cure addiction, including alcoholism.
- Locals believe that pusangade motelo has a calming effect and can relieve anxiety.
- Cola de raton (in English, “rat’s tail”) is said to help with digestion.
- Women with ovarian cysts might consider taking canelilla. It is also said to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.
*This is only a list of plants found in the Peruvian Amazon and thought to have medicinal properties. It should not be confused with medical advice.