Doctor Doctor

San Ignacio, Belize

With the ever rising cost of pharmaceuticals, many of us have turned to the power of herbs to mend, improve, ease, soothe and even cure what ails us. Maybe I should say “turned back” to the power of herbs. Think about it.  Healing with herbs has been around for a long, long time. When our pioneer ancestors tended to earaches, bumps, bruises, upset stomachs and other illnesses, they didn’t have corner drugstores. Instead they relied on common sense and gardens, as well as, pantries well-stocked with herbal remedies.  

Roughly 25% of the world’s medicines are derived from exotic plants that are found right here in Belize. Here, it’s referred to as “bush medicine” and many of the remedies have Mayan origin.  In fact, many native Belizeans prefer the use of various local plant leaves, seeds, roots and flowers before even considering a trip to a doctor or hospital. 

The most impressive thing about these natural cures is that often a trek through the jungle is not necessary. Many grow along the roadside, in vacant lots and in people’s yards. You just have to know where to look and what to look for. Or you can find an expert herbal medicine woman (or man) to guide you through where to find each plant and even help you prepare these herbal cure-alls.. 

We found such a paragon when we met Kim Ringland.

Daughter of a prominent health official in Nevada, Kim has had a passion for plants and their medicinal uses all of her life. Her Danish grandmother passed down many natural remedies and instilled in her the quest for the “simple life.” Way before the Pioneer Woman came on the scene, Kim and her husband Craig, lived “off the grid” in northern Idaho raising their two daughters. I questioned Kim about just how far “off” that grid they lived, and she told me that, by choice, they had no electricity, municipal water, etc. for a little over ten years. Wow!!! This woman truly understands simple living in its purest form.

After earning her Master Herbalist certification, Kim and Craig moved to Belize in 2005 and she started Kimmer’s Kreations, a source for natural herbs and oils for health and beauty. They own a farm, nestled in the jungle outside of San Ignacio, that is a paradise for everything green, as well as, home to seven dogs and several horses. When John and I visited, we felt like we’d entered the Garden of Eden sans the snakes. 

Kim recommended several herbs that would help me with my psoriatic arthritis, as well as, help both of us look and feel better. Here’s the top three that we think would benefit everyone.  

Moringa – The Plant that Does it All

We found out about moringa (aka moringa oleifera) a few years back.  Okay, we’re evidently slow, because this wonder plant has been helping folks stay healthy for thousands of years. Moringa is one of the most nutrient-rich plants in the world and the benefits are almost too many to count. Moringa trees, also known as widow’s trees, drumstick trees, clarifier trees, mother’s best friend and miracle trees are native to Africa and Asia, but now thrive and are cultivated in tropical climates around the world. 

Here are a few reasons we load up on moringa daily:

  1. Reduces fatigue
    Moringa is rich in iron and Vitamin A, making it a natural way to fight tiredness and fatigue.  It’s ideal for vegans, vegetarians and those suffering with anemia.
  2. Skin 
    Moringa is jam-packed with Vitamins A and E and even Vogue magazine has promoted it, claiming it’s a great way to “redefine beauty from within.”

    It also has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food, which makes it a great way to repair and prevent cell damage from aging. 

  3. Immunity
    Since moringa is rich in Vitamin A and iron it’s incredibly effective boost for our immune systems. Ongoing studies are showing the benefits of moringa in fighting cancer.
  4. Muscle Growth
    Since moringa has an unusually high amount of protein for a plant (contains 9 essential amino acids) it’s great for supporting the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
  5. Anti-Stress
    A 2010 study published in the Research Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics confirmed that moringa leaves are a robust, natural adaptogen. Well I’d never heard of an adaptogen, so I looked it up. They are plants that protect the body from the toxic effects of stress. Doh! They have been used for centuries by Chinese and not only help to reduce stress, but also help to improve endurance in the face of fatigue.
  6. Digestion
    Moringa is rich in calcium and fiber which aids in digestion and bowel regularity.
  7. Vision
    Since it’s rich in vitamin A, moringa is a great contributor to healthy eyes.
  8. Anti-Diabetes
    Studies have proven that moringa decreases blood glucose level.
  9. Bones
    Moringa is not only a rich source of protein and calcium, but also vitamin K, all of which support healthy bones.

Pretty incredible stuff, huh?  We eat it in capsules, as well as, sprinkle it on salads and in sauces. 

Ginger — Powerful Medicine

Ginger is a flowering plant whose root is used as a spice or for folk medicine. Frankly I’ve been a fan of the spice function (ginger ale, gingerbread, my sister-in-law Ginger, etc.) rather than the medicinal uses.  I never knew how beneficial the curative side of this plant can be.  Kim recommended that we load up on ginger as part of our daily supplement program. Here’s a few of the awesome benefits of a diet rich in ginger:

  1. Helps to offset nausea and morning sickness
    Okay, I’m way over the morning sickness thing, but every now and then we get upset tummies. Ginger to the rescue! It’s also been proven to help stop vomiting after surgery and alleviate nausea for folks going through chemotherapy. It’s also great to prevent sea sickness.
  2. Reduces muscle pain and soreness
    Studies have shown that consuming ginger every day helps to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory 
    For those with osteoarthritis ginger has been effective in reducing inflammation, which in turn, helps stop pain. Many osteoarthritis patients that add ginger to their daily diet often require fewer pain meds.
  4. Lowers blood sugars and improves heart health
    Ginger has many anti-diabetic properties. It has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  5. Treats chronic indigestion
    Ginger has been proven to aid in speeding up the emptying of the stomach after a meal, which is a major cause of indigestion.
  6. Lowers cholesterol levels
    High levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol”) have been linked to heart disease.  In a study of people with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder per day caused significant reductions in cholesterol levels.
  7. Brain function improvement and protection against Alzheimer’s Disease
    There are numerous studies that prove that ginger helps to prevent age-related decline in brain function, especially with elderly women.  Sign me up!
  8. Fights infection
    Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, inhibits the growth of bacteria and is proven to be effective with gum diseases, such as, gingivitis and periodontitis. Fresh ginger also kills the RSV virus, which is a common cause of respiratory infections.

Turmeric — King of Spices

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even heard of turmeric, or its health benefits. Remember, I’m not very talented in the kitchen (except for pies and cupcakes). My idea of seasoning foods, that aren’t sweet, have mainly consisted of adding salt, pepper and garlic powder. I’ve been spice deficient for most of my life. My bad!

Turmeric (aka curcumin, the health-related ingredient in turmeric) has been used in Indian cuisine for centuries and many scientists tout it to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence. Here are a few of the benefits of this astounding yellow substance:

  1. Natural Anti-inflammatory
    As we age, we often inflame. It’s not a good thing. Although short bouts of inflammation are beneficial, when it becomes chronic it attacks body tissues. Scientists believe that chronic inflammation contributes to most chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many degenerative conditions.

    Turmeric to the rescue. Curcumin/turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory.  In fact, it’s so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of many anti-inflammatory drugs, without the side effects.

  2. Anti-Depression
    In studies of people with depression, curcumin was as effective as Prozac in alleviating symptoms of the condition.
  3. Anti-Ageing
    Since turmeric has been proven to help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s it obviously boosts longevity

Add a little pepper…

If you’ve done any research about this precious spice, you may have seen the recommendation that black pepper be added to any dosage of curcumin or turmeric.  Black pepper contains piperine, which has been shown to dramatically increase (up to 2000%) the absorption and effects of turmeric. Without the pepper boost, most of the curcumin just passes through your digestive tract.

Moringa, ginger and turmeric are all “superfoods” that are actually worthy of the term. And since we want to feel and look “super” good, we both take all three supplements daily. All three are an integral part of the Barefoot Diary Travel Kit! 

Want to Know More???
Kim teaches classes, conducts jungle medicinal walks and gives private consultations. Her herbal remedies and skin products are also for sale every Friday at the San Ignacio farmer’s market or at Hode’s Place Restaurant in San Ignacio. 

She also has a series of videos available on YouTube

DIY Anti-fungal for Skin


Herbs on the Mountain


Landscaping with Medicinal Herbs

Kim Ringland

Intro to Ceiba Farm

Herbal Medicine

How to contact Kim:

Website:  Kimmer’s Kreations  
Messenger:  Message Kim
Phone:  673-5286
Map: Map to Kimmer’s Kreations 

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