Ancient Mayan Wisdom

Byrsonima crassifolia,
the locust tree used in healing by the ancient Mayans
Photo by Franz Xaver, GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0

Byrsonima crassifolia is commonly known today as nance or nanche. This tree was called chi by the Mayan people. In the book Medical Ethnobiology of the Highland Maya of Chiapas, Mexico, the authors write that the Mayan term for this tree was borrowed by the Spanish as they began to understand its value.
The most important and common use of the bark of this tree was for treatment of diarrhea. Several pieces of the nance bark would be boiled in water to be prepared as tea. The book authors state that the bark tea has a mild antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.
The locust tree was also used in healing rituals for:

  • Yellow fever
  • Dysentery
  • Blood in their vomit
  • Tarantula seizures
  • Tarantula eruptions
  • Asthma

Note: Statements about ancient or current Mayan spiritual beliefs and medicinal practices are merely descriptive. No statement is intended as medical advice.