Poly Red Head
RUBIACEAE – Hamelia patens
Common names: Red Head (E), Sanalo-todo (S), Ix-canan, Sac-te-much, Klaush-pim (M)
The Maya named this plant after the Goddess of the Forest and Healing, Ix-canan, likely due to the abundant anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties used in treating a large variety of skin ailments. Everything from sores, ulcers, fungus, rashes, burns, insect bites, burns, and bee stings can be treated effectively with this natural plant remedy.
Treatment for most skin rashes and fungus use 3 ingredients: common table salt, lime juice and young, mashed Poly Red Head leaves.
First the problem skin is scrubbed with a mixture of whole leaves, lime juice, and salt for 2-3 minutes. Then the freshly picked Poly Red Head leaves are smashed and rubbed into the newly scrubbed skin and left to dry. The procedure is repeated 2 or 3 times a day and within a day or two, the skin problem is usually cured.
Don’t be alarmed if your skin becomes temporarily darkened as some people’s skin changes color when in contact with lime juice.
Lower Dover’s watchman and resident bush healer Dan Rivera would say, “a little salt and lime and everything is fine.” You might have to ask him to say it 3 times though because his creole is a little tough to understand ;)
Ixcanan (Polly Red Head) is a favorite flower for the many hummingbirds that call Lower Dover Jungle Lodge home. The plant grows everywhere there is sun, almost like a weed. Great news for those with sensitive skin and a camera!
Finally, if you are trying to be a Maya MacGyver, it is apparently possible to make household “iodine” from the stems of the Ixcanan plant. According to Rainforest Remedies by Dr. Rosita Arvigo, three 25 cm long stems are boiled in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes; a rusty nail is then added for 15 minutes; this mixture is then strained and bottled.
Who would have thought?!? We did not know the Mayans had nails! This could help to explain their awesome construction abilities seen throughout Belize and in Lower Dover’s own backyard!