Like all traditional cultures, Peru’s native population has a long history of folk medicine and using local plants to treat a variety of ailments. While it’s easy to dismiss traditional cures in an age of pharmaceuticals and modern medicine, research by scientists and nutritionists has revealed that some of Peru’s native plants really do have amazing medicinal properties that can be used to help treat many common health issues, ranging from asthma to diabetes to cancer. Read on to learn about 5 plants from Peru that have amazing health benefits.
Una de Gato
Spanish for “cat’s claw,” the una de gato is an Amazonian herb that takes its name from the curved thorns that grow on its vines. Don’t let the menacing name and appearance fool you, though – the una de gato is known to have several beneficial medicinal properties. These include boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, curing gastrointestinal issues, and slowing the spread of viruses.
Like most berries, the pichuberry is very small. But within its tiny body, the pichuberry contains loads of Vitamins A, B, and C, phosphorous, niacin, thiamin, and antioxidants, all of which give it some incredible health-boosting effects. Thanks to all those nutrients, this little berry has been shown to help treat asthma and other respiratory conditions, stop the development of certain types of cancers, decrease blood sugar and stimulate the production of insulin in diabetics, increase the production of red blood cells, improve liver health, and increase fertility.
The achiote is a small tree that grows in several areas of Peru, and which locals have been using to treat several ailments for many generations. The tree’s seeds and powder are used to treat headaches, improve digestion, fight infections, and as an anti-inflammatory. Some research suggests that achiote’s medicinal properties might prevent prostatitis, which can develop into prostate cancer if not treated.
When doctors think their patients need more Omega fatty acids in their diets, they usually recommend fish. Turns out that they should probably be recommending sacha inchi (Quecha for “mountain peanut”) instead: the seeds of this Peruvian tree contain more Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids than fish oil, not to mention healthy doses of amino acids and Vitamins A and E. In practical health terms, that means sacha inchi can help regulate blood pressure, maintain hormone balance, and lower the amount of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Muña is the name of a common plant that can be found growing in several places throughout Peru, which the locals often brew into an herbal tea. Due to its high levels of phosphorous and calcium, this muña-based drink is used to strengthen teeth and bones, aid in digestion, and treat inflammation and infection.