Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough Times

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on September 25, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

Imagine a lush, green jungle in the tropics. Vines are swooping down from the canopy, and incredible greenery lines the narrow pathways made for man to walk through. There are ample roots popping up from the path, creating an uneven surface on the trail. And if you listen carefully, you can hear the chatter of howler monkeys through the leaves above.  

Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough TimesLamanai pathway and the High Temple.

We were at Lamanai, a large Mayan ruin site on mainland Belize dating back to the 16th century BC, and this was the landscape. In order to get from one site to another, we had to navigate through manmade paths steering us through the deep jungle.

Naively, when I was getting dressed earlier that morning, I did not dress appropriately for a jungle walk. I ended up wearing flip-flops and, just my luck, at some point during the trek to the site, the midsole and outsole of the shoe had separated.

Just picture the mouth of a Pacman. With each step I took, this wide, gaping black mouth would open, and the shoe would get caught on the large roots from the palms and whatever else was scattered on the ground below. 

Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough TimesThe High Temple at Lamanai.

After slowing down the group and clumsily taking a nose dive or two, the guide made a small slice with his machete into one of the trees lining the pathway. He quickly asked me for my broken shoe and rubbed the milky white sap from the tree on the contacting sides of the two soles and pressed them together. After about 30 seconds, he handed me back my shoe and voilà, the shoe was fixed. This magic tree, he said, was the rubber tree.  

The rubber tree produces a sticky substance, called latex, which was used by the Mayans to make glue, rubber products, and also to waterproof clothes. Today, this tree is still a major commercial source for natural rubber.

The shoe was like new, and we continued onward to climb the High Temple. Below, is a picture with a fellow conference attendee at Lamanai.

Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough TimesLamanai ruins in Orange Walk, Belize.

There was something so satisfying about being able to live off nature to fix what could have been a truly frustrating experience. So, going forward, I did what most curious people would do… I bought a book on botany. I was excited to learn more about the tropical landscape and better understand how we truly could live off the land.

As luck would have it, I was eventually introduced to a horticulturist, Osman, who was able to tell me even more.   

How we got connected…

As I was walking out of the office one day, itching my legs from a recent mosquito attack, my colleague Angela mentioned rubbing the backside of a banana peel on the bites to relieve the itchiness and the swelling. “Oh neat!” I said out loud and jokingly asked what other natural remedies she knew. Laughing a bit, she said, “Osman knows more than me.”  

So, we called in Osman, Angela’s husband. Osman is a native-born Nicaraguan who grew up in an agricultural farming town, Ticuantepe, located about 25 minutes south of Nicaragua’s capital, Managua.  

Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough TimesOsman and his basket of citrus!

There, because of the rich volcanic soil, his family successfully grew a variety of crops from pineapple to dragon fruit to plantains and bananas. His family lived off the land, and as he grew up, he learned various natural remedies and techniques to treat health issues and aid in everyday living.   Consumer Resource Guide

In addition, Osman was a Boy Scout and spent a lot of time outdoors, learning how to survive in the wild and how to live off of his surroundings. This adventurous, outdoorsy spirit eventually led Osman to become a tour guide in Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, to become a guide, you spend a few years training and a lot of emphasis is placed on knowing the flora and fauna of the country.

And so, as we got to talking, Osman shared a handful of tried and true natural remedies to relieve any health struggles, which we are sharing with you below. Please note that neither Osman nor I are doctors and his list below is simply comprised of natural cures that have worked for him and his family. Continue to seek advice from your doctor while trying out the remedies from this list!

  • Chamomile for heat rash.
    1. Steep chamomile (often referred to as manzanilla in Spanish) in boiling water for 5-7 minutes. After letting the liquid cool, apply to your skin and you’ll feel a cooling sensation. Plus, the redness will be gone!
    2. Angela and Osman’s children stand in front of the fan after applying the water and the boys feel great!
  • Aloe vera for sunburn and cuts.
    1. If you have gotten sunburn before, aloe vera has probably quickly become your friend! Known for its relieving properties, the gel from the aloe vera leaf is very soothing for both sunburn and cuts. Tip – put your aloe vera in the fridge for an even more cooling sensation!
    2. In addition to the topical features, the gel in the leaf is edible and is considered to be a “superfood.” While a tremendous amount of research has been conducted, and you can always find that online, Osman highlights that eating the aloe vera helps tremendously with digestive issues.  
    3. If you are growing your plant collection and like low maintenance plants, get an aloe vera plant! They require very little water and minimal upkeep.  
  • Mango Leaves for joint pain.
    1. Boil mango leaves over the stove. Let the water cool and apply to your joints to alleviate any joint pains.
    2. Although I couldn’t find any supporting evidence of this on the web, Osman swears it works!
  • Fresh lime/lemon juice for dandruff and psoriasis.
    1. If you are dealing with flaky or dry skin in the form of dandruff or psoriasis, try rubbing the juice from a fresh lemon or lime on the specific area. While it may sting initially, the itching and red bumps will eventually go away.

Osman’s List: Natural Remedies to Survive Some Tough TimesBelizean limes.

  • Lemongrass to keep away the bugs.
    1. Guess where natural citronella oil is found? Ding ding ding…. in lemongrass!  Used as a common mosquito repellent, lemongrass is an ornamental shrub that naturally repels mosquitos because of the citronella property. Many people will adorn their outdoor living spaces with citronella candles and will use lemongrass essential oils to keep away the pesky skeeters!

The list goes on and on, and the beauty is that we have many different opportunities go through even more great tips! Osman and Angela mentioned they’ll share some additional “homecare” hacks in a future article – such as to throw the coffee grounds from your pot of coffee this morning onto the topsoil of your plants! These grounds act as a fertilizer and add nutrients to the soil that will help your plants grow.

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on September 25, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.