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Herbal Baths in Guatemala Jungle

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FINCA TATIN, Jungle near Livingston, Guatemala- The indigenous cooking staff at the Finca Tatin were worried about my baby. They said that her head was always hot but she did not have a fever, that she was a little too vetchy, that she did not nap normally. They implied that she may be having headaches, which would make her cranky.

The Maya women huddled around the little white infant and came up with a prognosis:

Evil Eye.

They all concurred.

My wife rushed to tell me the news: “The girls told me that Petra has Evil Eye.”

“How do you get rid of Evil Eye?” could be my only reply.

Here in the eastern jungles of Guatemala, they have an herb for that.

The next day one of the Maya women took Petra and gave her an herbal bath designed to cleanse away her ailments. The herb was called Flor de Muerte — Flower of Death — and the woman soaked the ominous sounding plant in a bowel of water and waited for it to infuse. When the water was green, the women placed Petra in a sink and got to work. She dumped bucket after bucket of the herbal tea over my baby’s head, pieces of the chopped up herb stuck all over her body. My baby was soon costumed in little bits of green leaf. The green water was still being poured at regular intervals over her.

I watched as the herbs were poured over my baby.

Petra has gotten use to the Maya women bathing her, but as the Flower of Death was poured over her she screamed anyway. As the bath finished, we were told not to dry her hair, to leave it wet with the herbs still in it.

Our baby then took a long nap in a hammock, she woke up happy.


The following day another Maya woman wanted to bathe Petra in her own choice of herb. She brought in an herb called Pie de Nino — Baby’s foot — which, as far as nomenclature can be consulted, sounded like a far milder remedy than what Petra got on the previous day. The process was much the same: the herb was infused in a bowel of water, which was then poured over Petra in small cup-fulls.

Petra again became covered in little green herbal pieces.

She again took a long nap immediately following the bath.


In Guatemala, there are still ancient cures for ancient ailments. As in many other parts of the world, Evil Eye is a common diagnosis for a wide range of problems in Guatemala, and the remedies are often locally derived. My daughter was bathed in two different types of herbs, the potential damage of doing this was very negligible, the possibility that it could help reasonable.

The Maya women did the bathes as a simple matter of fact, this is just what they do when their children exhibit similar ailments. This is normal her, there was nothing contrived about these bathes, nothing for show: when people become ill here, they search for herbs in the surrounding jungle. The Maya women noticed Petra’s slightly stressed disposition, and found herbs in the jungle to care for it.

Herbal Baths in the Guatemala Jungle

Related entries: Tres Puntas Herb for Intestinal Ailments

Filed under: Travel Health | Indigenous Medicine

Guatemala Travelogue Entries | Guatemala Travel Guide | Guatemala Photos

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Filed under: Central America, Guatemala, Health, Plants, Rain Forests

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3128 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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