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How to get better with the Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica.
Photos courtesy of Arenal Volcano Inn

Juanilama. (Lippia Alba)

  Juanilama, one of the various Costa Rica medicinal plants.
After a big meal there is nothing better than a tea of Juanilama.

Geographical Distribution:
It is a Mesoamerican herb. In Costa Rica it grows almost in all altitudes and it is very common to find them on backyards all through out the country.

This small plant that may grow up to 1.5 meters has green leaves that are serrate and opposite. Its flowers are a combination of white and light purple colors and are very small. The stem is dark brown.

Medicinal Uses:
Mostly used for its relaxant and digestive properties. Also known to help aid the treatment of liver problems and colds. Treating arthritis pains or rheumatism.

To prepare an infusión take a full hand of fresh leaves with its stems and put them in approximately 1 liter of water and take the water to boiling. Once it has boiled it is ready to serve. For Rheumatism or arthritis related pains you can also put to full hands of Juanilama in one liter of White rum. (Not for drinking, but for external use only.) 



Mint (Satureja Viminea) – Menta.
Mint, Menta
Mint, native plant of the neotropic  

Geographical Distribution:
Native from the neotropics. In Costa Rica this bush like plant may be found in most elevations. Very common on backyards or restaurant patios.

Bush like plant with very small green round leaves. It has small white flowers.

Medicinal Uses:
This may be one of the most important of the medicinal herbs, since it contains Menthol oil, aids in digestion, helps to calm nerves, fights bacteria and helps in the prevention of unwanted microbes that may colonize in the digestive tract. It is commonly used as a mouth washes that help in the prevention of cavities.

Put leaves with water on a closed recipient until boils. It may be drinked hot or cold.

It can be transplanted very easily by cutting a piece of stem and putting it on the soil directly.



Spiral flag. (Costus Spicatus) – Caña Agria.

Caña Agria, Spiral flag
  Spiral flag flower and stem

Geographical distribution:
Some species of spiral flag are native to Central America and parts of South America. In Costa Rica it may be found in areas with an adecuate amount of shade and moisture. They may grow at elevations of 1200 meters to sea level.

Medium size plant with big leaves and strong purple with green stem. It has purple inflorescences that grow at the tip of the stems. On these inflorescences a beautiful white flower can be admired.

Medicinal Uses:
The fresh stems of this plant may be used for the treatment of Kidney ailments, skin disorders or eye problems.

Chop the stems and put them on a liter of water for overnight. The next day drink the liquid little by little throughout the day. Some people mix this liquid with pineapple juice.



Carpenter´s Bush (Justicia Pectoralis) – Tilo o Tila.

Tilo Tea box
Manza Te Carpenter's Bush infusion

Geographic al Distribución:
Tilo is native to the geotropic. In Costa Rica this plant is grown in fields and home gardens at lower elevations.

Small plant with many light-green leaves, opposite, ovate shaped. It has small pastel purple flowers.

Medicinal Uses:
It is used by many Costa Ricans as a mild sedative and also for the treatment of pulmonary infections.

To make an infusion you should take a hand full of fresh leaves and put it in a liter of Water. If you have dried leaves a tablespoon should be similar to the full hand of fresh leaves. Take water to boiling in a closed recipient. It is suggested to drink one or two cups per day.



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