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Q'eqchi' Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine

  • First scholarly book on medicinal plants of Belize
  • First book on traditional women’s healing practices of Belize
  • Reproductive health and fertility utilizing 60 plant species

Series: Springerbriefs in Plant Science

By: Jillian De Gezelle(Author)

201 pages, 37 colour illustrations, 4 tables


Paperback | Jan 2015 | #217467 | ISBN-13: 9783319107431
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £54.99 $71/€61 approx

About this book

The Q'eqchi' Maya of Belize have an extensive pharmacopoeia of medicinal plants used traditionally for reproductive health and fertility, utilizing more than 60 plant species for these health treatments. Ten species were selected for investigation of their estrogenic activity using a reporter gene assay. Nine of the species were estrogenic, four of the species were also antiestrogenic, and two of the extracts were cytotoxic to the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line.

Women's healing traditions are being lost in the Q'eqchi' communities of Belize at an accelerated rate, due to a combination of factors including: migration from Guatemala disrupting traditional lines of knowledge transmission; perceived disapproval by biomedical authorities; women's limited mobility due to domestic obligations; and lack of confidence stemming from the devaluation of women's knowledge. Q'eqchi' medicinal plant knowledge is highly gendered with women and men using different species in traditional health treatments. Revitalizing women's healing practices is vital for maintaining the traditional knowledge needed to provide comprehensive healthcare for Belize's indigenous communities.



1. Introduction
- Ethnobotany and Ethnomedicine
- Purpose and Scope of Research
- Research Questions
- Hypotheses
- Background
- Natural and Cultural History of Study Site
- Traditional Medicine in Belize
- Belizean "Bush Medicine"
- Traditional Healing in the Belizean Q'eqchi' Community
- Belize Indigenous Training Institute
- Maya Spirituality
- Culture-Bound Illnesses in Belize
- Hot-Cold Duality in Maya Medicine
- Maya Diagnostics
- Traditional Q'eqchi' Healing Modalities
- Medicinal Plant Harvest and Use
- Conclusions

2. Traditional Q'eqchi' Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine
- Methodology
- Study Site and Timeline
- Research Ethics
- Interviews
- Plant Collection and Identification
- Results and Discussion
- Disorders of the Womb
- Menstruation
- Fertility, Infertility and Fertility Regulation
- Conception and Pregnancy
- Birth and the Postpartum Period
- Breastfeeding and Weaning
- Menopause
- Men's Reproductive Health
- Infant Health
- Culturally Specific Infant Conditions
- Conclusions

3. Use of Phytoestrogens in Q'eqchi' Maya Ethnomedicine
- Traditional Maya Medicine
- Ethnomedically Directed Bioactivity Investigation
- Phytoestrogens and Their Therapeutic Importance
- Hormone Replacement Therapy and the Women's Health Initiative
- Q'eqchi' Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine
- Methodology
- Belize Indigenous Training Institute
- Ethnobotanical Research
- Species Selection and Plant Collection
- Memorandum of Agreement for Laboratory Research
- Medicinal Plant Extraction
- UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research
- Bioassay Materials
- Cell Culture
- Transient Transfections and Reporter Gene Assays
- Cell Proliferation Assay
- Results and Discussion
- Cytotoxicity Results
- Estrogenic and Antiestrogenic Activities
- Fabaceae: Mimosoideae
- Gesneriaceae
- Melastomataceae
- Piperaceae
- Rhamnaceae
- Rubiaceae
- Conclusion

4. Q'eqchi' Women's Lives, Health Care and Cultural Loss
- Q'eqchi' Maya Women's Lives in Belize
- Access and Choices in Reproductive Health Care
- Women's Healing Traditions
- Methodology
- Research Objectives
- Interviews with Q'eqchi' Women
- Interviews with Midwives, Herbalists and Healers
- Results
- Q'eqchi' Women of a Toledo Village
- Q'eqchi' Women's Health Perspectives
- Q'eqchi' Choices and Perceptions of Pregnancy and Birth
- Q'eqchi' Women's Traditions
- Gender Differences in Healing and Plant Use
- Q'eqchi' Midwives and Healers in Belize
- Loss of Female Healers in the Belizean Q'eqchi Community
- Q'eqchi' Migration
- Conclusion

5. Conclusions
- Q'eqchi' Reproductive Ethnomedicine
- Estrogenic Plant Use in Q'eqchi' Reproductive Ethnomedicine
- Q'eqchi' Women's Healing Traditions in Belize

Appendix I. Interview Questions

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Jillian De Gezelle, PhD is Teaching Assistant Professor Department of Plant & Microbial Biology North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC, USA

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