The ancient Maya were not only great astronomers or mathematicians, but also had an advanced medical knowledge. Much is known how the Maya, practiced and cured illness, which some of the scattered descendants of this once mighty civilization still practice today. Who were the Mayan "Ah Men?"
The Maya had doctors and therapists like we do today, but the fundamental belief of how illness was caused differs. Mayan's believed illness was equated with angering the Gods, and doctors were both spiritual and natural healers, called "Medicine Men" or "Ah men."
When someone was afflicted with an illness, the "Ah men" would be called. As sickness was believed to be caused by ones soul captured by a supernatural being., the medicine man would first research any past behavior that may of angered the Gods.
But it was a mixture of spiritual healing through ritual cleansing, the taking of traditional herbal based medicines, and therapy that would heal the sick. The "Ah Men" were great herbalists, and medicines were often snorted, swallowed, rubbed on or applied as an ointment.
Once the spiritual cause of the illness was determined, fasting and other rituals were also required to nurse the sick back to health. Therapy would include massages, induced sleep, and sweating. Common practices today to many therapists in our societies.
The "Ah Men," had a special place in Mayan society, and were considered close to the Gods, allowing them to use medicines that could alter their patients consciousness to be looked favorably by the Gods, and spiritually healed. Plants like the peyote, morning glory, certain types of mushrooms and sometimes tobacco were used to induce trances.
Medicines were gathered from the rich forests and the environment around the large Mayan cities. Many of these medicines contain the natural ingredients our own medicines use to cure or prevent illness. Scientists regularly search the rainforests forests that remain - discovering, and testing plants for their medical value.
Curiously as most of the ancient Mayan texts were destroyed after the Spanish conquest of the traditional Mayan territories, medical texts were kept and are now a record of how these medicines were made, and what they cured. Perhaps used by the first European settlers as a cure for malaria, and syphilis. Commonly recorded diseases the settlers caught- recorded in both church records, and the journals of the new European settlers during that era..
The Mayan legacy of curing illnesses, has had positive results in the way illnesses are treated today. And the natural environments around the now abandoned Mayan cities, often grow the plants needed to develop medicines we commonly use today.
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