Efficacy of traditional medicines:
 Maya traditional medicines and
  cultural development in Belize
                    By...
Indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya in Belize

• Inhabit 43 rural villages in S. Belize
• Traditional healers provide primary
  healt...
Q’eqchi’ Maya
villages
Indigenous Q’eqchi’ (Kekchi) Maya
 Healers in Belize Central America
The Q’eqchi are descendants of Ancient Maya:
       ex. Sacred Site Caracol Belize
Maya Cosmovision
• Tree of Life
   – Yaxche: Ceiba tree
   – Represents Heaven, Earth,
     Man, the Underworld
   – Inter...
Maya spirituality: ancients putting copal incense into sacred fire




                                                   ...
Modern Maya ceremony
Placing copal into sacred fire
Maya Gods of Medicine
– Several gods related to medicine

  • Itzamna: Founder of the Maya culture,
    showed people to g...
First scientists: Ancient Maya Ethnomedicine
        (Classic and Post-Classic Periods)
• Herbal medicine
   – Priest prac...
Maya healers today hold similar beliefs
  and ancient medicinal knowledge
• Healers of S. Belize
  know the uses of hundreds
  of rainforest medicinal
  plants.
• Their tropical forest
  is consid...
Belize Indigenous Training Institute :
mission to create indigenous
development and preserve culture




Original BITI off...
In 1998 BITI formed the Kekchi Maya Healer’s Association
Mission: to contribute to health and well being of people and to
...
Founding elder of Kekchi Maya Healer’s Association
                  Albino Maquin
Membership: Maya healers who possess
traditional knowledge of plants and the art of
              traditional healing

   ...
Objectives
• To form an alliance of traditional healers to learn
  from each other and work on common problems
  and activ...
The Itzamma botanical garden:
     Itzamma is the place of Itzamna, God of Wisdom



                                     ...
Plants were collected in pristine sacred places in Maya
  mountains then transplanted to the Izamma garden
Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Remedy for men
Remedy for
women
Collaboration with University of Ottawa and Cleveland State University
  Improving the garden for school visitors: install...
Two types of plants:

1: Plants for traditional use
   in healer ceremonies (ie
   prescription-like use)

Ex: Used for me...
Healing ceremony combines spirituality and plant use:




Spiritual leader celebrates four cardinal directions representin...
2. Choosing Plants for Public Use
   Ex: Ginger (Xan xir) - not a sacred ancient traditional plant, but
   very safe and e...
Fevergrass (Mes iha)
For colds & flu
So saul pim
For insect bites
Phytomedicinal products




Tea


      Repellent
      cream
                                 Bag for spices,
           ...
Teaching youth about traditional culture at Tumul K’in Maya school
Handbook publication

        Handbook of Kekchi medicinal plants

        Provides a book to promote the
        transmis...
Activities: research validating traditional medicines.
 Cat’s claw traditional use for pain and swelling
 Collected for la...
Part 2. Validating traditional
          medicine
              • KMHA & BITI
              • John Arnason, Virginie
     ...
1. The ethnobotany:
Ph.D. student
Virginie Treyvaud
Amiguet and 10 healers
prepared the consensus
Ethnobotany using
Quanti...
169 plant species were collected in the Q’eqchi’ pharmacopoeia
 Usage category

                   INF
                   ...
Informant Consensus Factor
M. Heinrich et al.2000., Phytotherapy Res. 14: 479-488.

  • Fic = nur - nt
          nur - 1

...
Q’eqchi’ ethnobotany: Quantitative analyses
                    Informant consensus factor (Fic)

  Category of disorders ...
A Rainforest ethnobotany
                                 PRIMARY
                                    FOREST

            ...
Ethnobotanical Survey
Healers recognize and treat a large
number of mental health/neurological
symptoms with herbs and pra...
Epilepsy and Susto
Epilepsy
• Seen as “spirit loss” by the Maya and a serious
  condition needing intervention with plant
...
The GABA system

• Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main
  inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian
  brain
• Low...
Presynaptic           Glutamate Succinic            Vigabatrin
        terminal 3-MPA               acid                  ...
Quantitative
           Ethnopharmacology:
• Informant Consensus
Used to identify plants with high potential for activity
...
Number of species
                                      Pi
                                         pe




               ...
Traditional knowledge vs.
              biological activity
                                                      Piperace...
Piperaceae
Pepper family
 • Piper species have also been traditionally used for
   epilepsy & related neurological disorde...
Epilepsy Summary

• Anti-Epileptic plant use by Maya has a
  pharmacological basis in GABA T inhibition
Anxiety:
La tentacion de San Agustino -- Diego Riviera
2
                                     1



GABA system                              1
                      &O




      ...
Correlation analysis of GABAA activity (% displacement) and %
relative frequency (RF) of plants used by healers
     Epile...
Souroubea spp. of the Marcgraviaceae : among the most
promising anxiolytics and targeted as a rare family by Poveda
      ...
Anxiety Summary

• Anti-Anxiety plant use by Maya has a
  pharmacological basis in GABA A receptor
  binding
Plants used in inflammation

• Brendan Walshe-Roussel
• Collaboration with
  healers to identify plants
  used for symptom...
Healer Interviews
                                 Ethnobotanical Results
              Headache
                   Fever
...
Anti-inflammatory Plants
Hot and Cold




               Ankli, 1999
Antidiabetic plants
KMHA and Jonathan Ferrier:
   15 symptoms used
Acknowledgements
• Q’eqchi’ Healers Association
• Belize Indigenous Training Institute
  – Victor Cal
• Funding Agencies
Maya Calendar

Long Count

Glyphs represent periods of time
 k'in = day
 winal = 20 day month
 tun = 360 day long count ye...
In Memory Of Kevin
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Efficacy of traditional medicines: Maya traditional medicines and cultural development in Belize

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Victor Cal, Belize Indigenous
Training Institute, Belize, CA
John Arnason, Jonathan Ferrier,
Brendan Walshe-Roussel, uOttawa
Todd Pesek, MD Cleveland State U.

Victor Cal, Belize Indigenous
Training Institute, Belize, CA
John Arnason, Jonathan Ferrier,
Brendan Walshe-Roussel, uOttawa
Todd Pesek, MD Cleveland State U.

NAHO 2009 National Conference

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  • Thanks Naveen
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  • That was very informative and well written. Mentioned below is an excerpt of an article on Traditional Knowledge.



    'Misuse of traditional knowledge and measures to prevent the same have been attracting attention since the turmeric patent controversy. After successfully revoking turmeric patent claims that formed part of traditional knowledge, the Indian government has taken numerous initiatives ranging from legislative and policy changes to documentation and creation of a library of information (TKDL). With the press and media joining the effort, the awareness with respect to rights of traditional knowledge holders , actions against traditional knowledge misuse, policy initiatives and so on has been increasing. The TKDL has been playing an important role in revoking and preventing patents on traditional knowledge. Industry and public reaction with respect to patent filings involving traditional knowledge has been aggressive and many times emotional.......read more at http://www.patentpill.com/2010/10/traditional-knowledge-use-or-misuse.html
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Efficacy of traditional medicines: Maya traditional medicines and cultural development in Belize

  1. 1. Efficacy of traditional medicines: Maya traditional medicines and cultural development in Belize By Victor Cal, Belize Indigenous Training Institute, Belize, CA John Arnason, Jonathan Ferrier, Brendan Walshe-Roussel, uOttawa Todd Pesek, MD Cleveland State U.
  2. 2. Indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya in Belize • Inhabit 43 rural villages in S. Belize • Traditional healers provide primary health care needs
  3. 3. Q’eqchi’ Maya villages
  4. 4. Indigenous Q’eqchi’ (Kekchi) Maya Healers in Belize Central America
  5. 5. The Q’eqchi are descendants of Ancient Maya: ex. Sacred Site Caracol Belize
  6. 6. Maya Cosmovision • Tree of Life – Yaxche: Ceiba tree – Represents Heaven, Earth, Man, the Underworld – Interconnectedness of all things • Health and Disease – Mental, physical and spiritual balance – Culture bound syndromes • Awuas, Bilis, Pasmo, Susto, Evil winds
  7. 7. Maya spirituality: ancients putting copal incense into sacred fire Copal
  8. 8. Modern Maya ceremony
  9. 9. Placing copal into sacred fire
  10. 10. Maya Gods of Medicine – Several gods related to medicine • Itzamna: Founder of the Maya culture, showed people to grow maize and cacao, as well as writing, calendars and medicine. Itzamna Ixchel • Ixchel: Jaguar goddess of midwifery and medicine. Wife of Izamna Tikal Lord with Itzamna and Ixchel
  11. 11. First scientists: Ancient Maya Ethnomedicine (Classic and Post-Classic Periods) • Herbal medicine – Priest practitioners – Hundreds of plants used – Medicinal plant gardens Dresden codex
  12. 12. Maya healers today hold similar beliefs and ancient medicinal knowledge
  13. 13. • Healers of S. Belize know the uses of hundreds of rainforest medicinal plants. • Their tropical forest is considered one of the “biodiversity hotspots” for world conservation.
  14. 14. Belize Indigenous Training Institute : mission to create indigenous development and preserve culture Original BITI offices in Punta Gorda Town Kevin Knight - ICC helped start BITI
  15. 15. In 1998 BITI formed the Kekchi Maya Healer’s Association Mission: to contribute to health and well being of people and to respect the harmony of nature and mankind
  16. 16. Founding elder of Kekchi Maya Healer’s Association Albino Maquin
  17. 17. Membership: Maya healers who possess traditional knowledge of plants and the art of traditional healing New Members are: • Indigenous persons • Have trained as traditional healers • Are practicing healers • Must be voted into association
  18. 18. Objectives • To form an alliance of traditional healers to learn from each other and work on common problems and activities. • Preserve and protect traditional knowledge • Educate youth • To heal and to do no harm • To obtain government recognition of traditional healing • To establish a botanical garden
  19. 19. The Itzamma botanical garden: Itzamma is the place of Itzamna, God of Wisdom Healers started garden to have medicinal plant near to patients 75 acres at Indian Creek Belize Healers replanted medicinal plants from remote forest sites More than 200 species All rainforest plants
  20. 20. Plants were collected in pristine sacred places in Maya mountains then transplanted to the Izamma garden
  21. 21. Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
  22. 22. Remedy for men
  23. 23. Remedy for women
  24. 24. Collaboration with University of Ottawa and Cleveland State University Improving the garden for school visitors: installing water pump, shelter and outhouses.
  25. 25. Two types of plants: 1: Plants for traditional use in healer ceremonies (ie prescription-like use) Ex: Used for mental health
  26. 26. Healing ceremony combines spirituality and plant use: Spiritual leader celebrates four cardinal directions representing earth, air water and fire
  27. 27. 2. Choosing Plants for Public Use Ex: Ginger (Xan xir) - not a sacred ancient traditional plant, but very safe and effective for nausea - can be given to public for self care
  28. 28. Fevergrass (Mes iha) For colds & flu
  29. 29. So saul pim For insect bites
  30. 30. Phytomedicinal products Tea Repellent cream Bag for spices, incense or dye Tincture
  31. 31. Teaching youth about traditional culture at Tumul K’in Maya school
  32. 32. Handbook publication Handbook of Kekchi medicinal plants Provides a book to promote the transmission of the traditional knowledge and to teach the use of medicinal plants to younger Kekchi Book is copyrighted and details about the preparations are not provided to protect the intellectual property of the healers and to avoid the self medication
  33. 33. Activities: research validating traditional medicines. Cat’s claw traditional use for pain and swelling Collected for lab tests as anti-inflammatory
  34. 34. Part 2. Validating traditional medicine • KMHA & BITI • John Arnason, Virginie Treyvaud, Jonathan Ferrier • Brendan Walshe-Roussel
  35. 35. 1. The ethnobotany: Ph.D. student Virginie Treyvaud Amiguet and 10 healers prepared the consensus Ethnobotany using Quantititative methods
  36. 36. 169 plant species were collected in the Q’eqchi’ pharmacopoeia Usage category INF DIG NER MUS SKI RES POI PRE GEN CUL MEN CIR INJ SEN NUT MET END 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 No. of medicinal plant species
  37. 37. Informant Consensus Factor M. Heinrich et al.2000., Phytotherapy Res. 14: 479-488. • Fic = nur - nt nur - 1 • Fic=informant consensus factor • nur = number of use-reports in each Usage Category • nt = number of taxa used
  38. 38. Q’eqchi’ ethnobotany: Quantitative analyses Informant consensus factor (Fic) Category of disorders Fic Endocrine System Disorders (END) 0.81 Nutritional Disorders (NUT) 0.77 Genitourinary System Disorders (GEN) 0.76 Fic > 0.6 Poisonings (POI) 0.76 Muscular-Skeletal System Disorders (MUS) 0.72 Digestive System Disorders (DIG) 0.71 High consensus for ten Respiratory System Disorders (RES) 0.70 categories of disorders Nervous System Disorders (NER) 0.69 Infections/Infestations (INF) 0.68 Mental Disorders (MEN) 0.67 Culture-bound syndromes (CUL) 0.58 Skin/Subcutaneous Cellular Tissue Disorders (SKI) 0.58 Metabolic System Disorders (MET) 0.57 Pregnancy/Birth/Puerperium Disorders (PRE) 0.57 Circulatory System Disorders (CIR) 0.52 Injuries (INJ) 0.36 Sensory System Disorders (SEN) 0.25
  39. 39. A Rainforest ethnobotany PRIMARY FOREST 31% SECONDARY FOREST 28% 6% RIVERSIDE & CREEK 22% 13% ROADSIDE & FIELD LATE SECONDARY FOREST
  40. 40. Ethnobotanical Survey Healers recognize and treat a large number of mental health/neurological symptoms with herbs and prayers Bourbonnais-Spear et al. 2005. EB. 59(4):326-36
  41. 41. Epilepsy and Susto Epilepsy • Seen as “spirit loss” by the Maya and a serious condition needing intervention with plant medicines, ceremony • 41 plant used! By 10 healers Susto • A culture bound syndrome in which a fright can cause disease symptoms- we hypothesized a relation to generalized anxiety • 14 plant species used
  42. 42. The GABA system • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian brain • Low GABA levels are associated with anxiety and epilepsy • GABA Hypothesis - Increasing GABA and/or GABAergic activity in the brain may help to alleviate these conditions
  43. 43. Presynaptic Glutamate Succinic Vigabatrin terminal 3-MPA acid (antiepileptic) GAD GABA (convulsant) -T GABA Tiagabine (antiepileptic) Glial GABA transporter Cl- cell Phenobarbital GABA-T (anxiolytic; antiepileptic) Succinic β acid Diazepam α α γ β (anxiolytic) β GABAA receptor Cl- Cl- Postsynaptic neuron Cl- Adapted rom Suzdak and Jansen, 1995.
  44. 44. Quantitative Ethnopharmacology: • Informant Consensus Used to identify plants with high potential for activity Relative frequency (RF) of use for epilepsy: % RFepilepsy = # healers using a species for epilepsy x 100 total # healers interviewed • Pharmacolotical target for epilepsy GABA-T inhibition – Tested ethanolic extracts; rat brain tissue
  45. 45. Number of species Pi pe 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ac rac an eae th Ad ac ia ea nt e ac 16 plant families Ru ea bi e ac As ea te e ra ce Se ae Ar la ac gi n e eae Sc llac hi ea za e ea So ce la ae Family V na ce M er b el en ae as to ace Ar m ae is at to ac lo e ch ae M ia (IC50 1 mg/ml) on ce Ph im ae yt ia ol ce ac ae G ca es c ~25% of extracts were ne eae r Plant families used for epilepsy by the Q'eqchi' Healers potent GABA-T inhibitors Ap iac oc eae yn ac Plant families used in epilepsy ea e
  46. 46. Traditional knowledge vs. biological activity Piperaceae correlation (8 species) is very high • For all families, a 100 significant moderate 80 positive correlation (34 % inhibition 60 plants) between 40 R2 = 0.6333 %GABA-T inhibition * p = 0.018 20 and relative frequency r = 0.795 0 (RF) of use. 0 20 40 60 r = 0.36, p < 0.05 % RF epilepsy GABA-T inhibition: extracts tested at 1 mg/ml
  47. 47. Piperaceae Pepper family • Piper species have also been traditionally used for epilepsy & related neurological disorders in other cultures – Kava, Piper methysticum (South Pacific islands) – Black pepper, Piper nigrum (TCM) • Contain nitrogen compounds: piperamides, e.g. piperine • Piperamides are the antiepileptic agent
  48. 48. Epilepsy Summary • Anti-Epileptic plant use by Maya has a pharmacological basis in GABA T inhibition
  49. 49. Anxiety: La tentacion de San Agustino -- Diego Riviera
  50. 50. 2 1 GABA system 1 &O Valium Adapted from Treiman 2001
  51. 51. Correlation analysis of GABAA activity (% displacement) and % relative frequency (RF) of plants used by healers Epilepsy plants Susto plants for (A) epilepsy, r = 0.383, r2= 0.147, p< 0.05 (n= 31) and (B) susto, r = 0.728, r2= 0.530, p< 0.02 (n= 10).
  52. 52. Souroubea spp. of the Marcgraviaceae : among the most promising anxiolytics and targeted as a rare family by Poveda &Sanchez
  53. 53. Anxiety Summary • Anti-Anxiety plant use by Maya has a pharmacological basis in GABA A receptor binding
  54. 54. Plants used in inflammation • Brendan Walshe-Roussel • Collaboration with healers to identify plants used for symptoms of inflammation • Test in lab assays – Anti-inflammatory bioassay • Bacterial LPS stimulation – TNF-alpha ELISA
  55. 55. Healer Interviews Ethnobotanical Results Headache Fever Stomach cramps Evil spirit swelling Arthritis and rheumatism Fast breathing/heart Hot/cold swelling Ulcers and heartburn Rash Snake bites Insect bites Boils Common cold Allergies 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 Number of healer citations
  56. 56. Anti-inflammatory Plants
  57. 57. Hot and Cold Ankli, 1999
  58. 58. Antidiabetic plants KMHA and Jonathan Ferrier: 15 symptoms used
  59. 59. Acknowledgements • Q’eqchi’ Healers Association • Belize Indigenous Training Institute – Victor Cal • Funding Agencies
  60. 60. Maya Calendar Long Count Glyphs represent periods of time k'in = day winal = 20 day month tun = 360 day long count year (18 winal) katun = 7200 days (20 tun) baktun = 144000 days (20 katun) The next long counts end in 13.0.0.0.0, or Dec 21, 2012 Representing a new age
  61. 61. In Memory Of Kevin

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