Motherland Medicine by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco

burnout, costa rica, family, motherland, parenting, tradition, Travel -

Motherland Medicine by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco

Originally published on American Herbalist Guild site

Connecting with one’s roots can be a transformative experience, and when coupled with the opportunity to experience traditional medicine, it can be truly beautiful. Over the holidays, my husband and I had transplanted ourselves to Costa Rica, my mother's homeland, for almost a month to reconnect with family after many isolated years, and the visit could not have come at a better time and offered us an opportunity for a profound and uplifting experience that I will never forget.

As healers, it is important to recognize that in our effort to provide comfort and care to others, it can often come at the expense of our own physical and mental health. The last few years have been particularly difficult for so many around the globe, and it has certainly brought the reality of practitioner burnout into the forefront to be studied under a much more critical lens. I have personally struggled with my physical health and the last year had brought with it much change and stress in our home that did not provide our bodies with the adequate environment for healing, and the need for more support became glaringly evident.

Upon arriving in Costa Rica, we were greeted with open arms, but even with the new backdrop of this gorgeous tropical country, we were far from the picture of health and I was even nursing injuries from a fall I had experienced in the days leading up to our flight. My mother quickly jumped back into the caretaker role, doing her best to prepare nourishing foods and quickly went to work preparing remedies from the arsenal of herbs in her apothecary and her garden teeming with life.

Many of the herbs she used while making an array of teas, decoctions, and liniments for us were species she grew or was able to forage nearby. I wanted to take this moment to share a decoction recipe that my mother made for me almost every evening I was there to help me wind down my overactive nerves and that I have continued to make since we’ve been back home:

Ingredients -

  • 1 Tablespoon of dry Juanilama (Lippia alba) leaf or 1 handful of fresh leaves and stems
  • 1 Tablespoon of dry Tilo (Linden, Tilia cordata) Leaf & Flower or 1 handful of fresh leaves and flowers
  • 1 Teaspoon of Lino (Flax, Linum usitatissimum) seeds
  • 1 Liter of water

Place herbs in water in a small sauce pan.
Bring water to a simmer and cover.
Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes.
Strain and serve. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and reheated gently. Enjoy!
I believe that one of the most striking things about working with traditional medicines is the way in which it is grounded deeply in the natural world. These remedies are made from plants that have been considered allies for generations in a region and work in harmony with the body's own natural healing processes. These preparations are a refreshing contrast to the often impersonal or highly synthetic approach of modern medicine, and it can be truly inspiring to witness the care and attention that goes into crafting these botanical preparations.

Moreover, the privilege of having the attentive and nurturing presence of my mother played a crucial role in making the experience all the more healing. When one is feeling burnt out, stressed, or overwhelmed, having a support giver, a partner or friend or family member, who is attentive and caring can be of great benefit. Did I completely recover during our visit? No, but such support givers can provide a listening ear, offer words of encouragement and wisdom, and generally create a space where one feels safe during these times where you’ve become too tired to think or even take part in things you once found enjoyable. In the context of traditional medicine, this kind of support can be especially important, as the healing process often involves a deep level of self-reflection and introspection.

Furthermore, the experience of traditional medicine can also offer a powerful connection to one's cultural heritage. In my case, the remedies and treatments I experienced during my visit to my mother's homeland were deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of her culture. This allowed me to feel a deeper connection to my mother, my ancestors, and the land itself. This sense of connection can be truly beautiful and can help to ground one in a sense of belonging and purpose.

In conclusion, the experience of traditional medicine can be a profoundly beautiful and uplifting experience. It offers a connection to the natural world, a sense of cultural heritage and belonging, and an opportunity to reflect and heal. When coupled with the attentive presence of a mother or other support giver, it can be an incredibly powerful and transformative experience. By embracing traditional medicines and the nurturing presence of support givers, we can find new sources of strength and beauty in our lives, and open ourselves up to new levels of healing and growth.


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