Strolling through the markets in Peru (or anywhere for that matter) is always an interesting experience. You'll find a plethora of clothing, fried food stands, fresh fruit and vegetables. And, in the middle of the bustling market, a line of strange stands displaying a variety of dried herbs, strange figurines, stacked cacti and mysterious looking potions swirling in clear glass (or occasionally soda) bottles.
Snorkeling while shopping is considered optional ;)
Although mysterious-seeming though they may be, these little shaman shops are a great spot to find amazing natural remedies pulled right from the Amazon rain forest and Andes mountains. Some of my favorites are the following:
Maca (a.ka. Peruvian Ginseng)
Maca is a root plant found in the amazon rainforest. When consumed, it usually ground up into a powder and eaten in breakfast cereals or juices. It is used to enhance energy, increase stamina and improve sexual function. It can also be used to balance hormones to improve the symptoms of Menopause and acne.
Although technically the base of cocaine, coca leaves in their raw form are used as a stimulant to overcome fatigue, headaches, nausea and other symptoms of altitude sickness. I can personally attest to this having gone through the pains of altitude sickness many a time.
The indigenous use the leaves during shamanic rituals and prayers. They also chew the leaves too keep up energy during the long work days
The tiny little leaves are packed with calcium and potassium, vitamins B, C, and E as well as protein and fiber. Not bad for a little plant with such a bad rep eh?
Sangre de Drago (Sangre de Grado)
Sangre de Drago translates literally as "blood of the dragon". It gets its name from its rather blood like appearance. This tree sap has many amazing properties. It is an antiviral, anti fungal and antiseptic. Great for healing wounds and bug bites or taking care of any "what did I just eat" stomach issues that would otherwise leave you lying next to the toilet for days. The only downside is its rather strange taste,
although that may just be me...
Uña de Gato (Cat's Claw)
Umm...no, you're not actually ingesting a cat's claw. This herb's name comes from the claw like appearance of the plants thorns. This is a fantastic herb. It has as antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune system enhancing properties. Again, great for stomach problems or swollen bug bites that just don't seem to heal. It has been shown to improve the symptoms of arthritis and eczema and even help cancer patients! The indigenous use it to ease birthing and to improve to health of both mother and child.
What new and interesting plants or remedies have you discovered on your travels?