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INDEX -- 50



Other Aztec related links:
  • Aztec Life
  • Mexica Culture
  • Religion of the Modern Aztlan Movement
  • Religion of the Mexica & Bibliography
  • Major Deitites of the Mexica
  • Minor Deitites of the Mexica
  • Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity?
  • The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
  • If you or I get sick we see a doctor, usually follow the advise of our physician and generally recover. The Aztec operated in a similar matter, however, the causes of the illness were treated quite differently. You or I don't attribute our illnesses to the eruption of volcanoes or the fancy of an obscure deity that we somehow slighted, the Aztec did. Often the Aztec family would view illness in their homes as punishment or destiny with no hope for cure or reversal of the illness.

    The treatment of any illness could be approached from quite a few different angles including, physical treatment, drugs, or a spiritual cure. The herb knowledge was extensive and effective. The spiritual, or magical cures, were just as important and deserve equal study and consideration as they apply to general medical treatment.

    The Aztec had a love-hate relationship with their deities and saw themselves as mere pawns in the hands of the gods. An illness could be seen as retribution for not strictly following a rather extensive set of daily homage routines. Sickness may also be inflicted for no other reason than the amusement of a particular deity.

    Another form of divine intervention in the health of the Aztec was pre-ordained illness. The Aztec had a well established birth sign structure, much like modern astrology. Babies born during certain days were expected to develop into sickly children and die early of disease. Conversely babies born on other days could expect favor from the gods and live happy, disease free lives. Should one of these favored people develop illness, he or she surely must have forgotten to properly pay homage to the gods.

    In a general sense, Aztec medical science was on an even par with contemporary medical science of the day in Europe. Often times the Aztecs, or more specifically the Mexica, were far superior in the identification and treatment of the various ailments that affected them. Like their medical counterparts in Europe(*1),

    1 Europe, in some ways, was behind the New world in the progression of medicine. As late as 1530 such theories as the "Doctrine of Signatures" was being led by Swiss Alchemist Paracelsus. This theory stated that plants looked like the disease they were intended to cure. For example a walnut looked like a brain, therefore, it must be good for the cure of brain ailments. Ody, p. 19. Paracelsus, real name Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, ordered his followers in 1524 to burn books written by advocates of herb medicine, Kruger, p.157.

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    the Aztec practitioners tended to concentrate on treating the symptom and not the disease or cause of the illness(*2).

    Dr. Michael Meyer relates that the Aztecs were even performing "brain operations"(*3). In general, the Mexica could be considered to have been a very healthy race of people with preventive health measures and in possession of a good sense of public sanitation as a part of their daily lives.

    The mental health of the Aztec was certainly in need of improvement. Considering the extent of anxiety in the daily lives of the common individual, it is no wonder that so many of their drugs were prescribed for various stomach ailments. As a regular antacid user myself, I speak from experience when I say that anxiety affects your digestive track, and I don't even have to worry about giant rocks falling on my head or becoming claw-handed as a result of my birth sign.

    The daily lives of the Aztec were so regulated and controlled that it would have been difficult to maintain any type of mental health that we would associate with. This breakdown of balance between the mind and the body could manifest itself in a number of physical ailments, and probably did.

    With the exception of bleeding a patient, or setting broken bones, the Mexica concentrated on an (*4) approach to medicine, even maintaining extensive

    2 The Aztecs were convinced that comets, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions were some of the causes of illness, as well as offending various deities, particularly Tezcatliopoca.

    3 Meyer, p. 79. Meyer does not reference his source for this statement. Wolfgang von Hagen, pp. 113-114, discusses the subject of skull trepanning as having been highly developed in the Inca society but found no references to the Aztecs developing such a practice.

    4 As the Mexica tended to approach medicine from an herbal view, it is helpful to understand basic naturopathic terms and principals associated with herbs and the use of herbs in medicine. Listed here are the basic elements associated with a more modern naturopathic approach to healing with herbs.

    ASTRINGENT - helps to close open wounds and stop fluid discharge.
    ANTIEMETIC - used to control vomiting.
    ANTISEPTIC - used to cleanse and ward off infection.
    ANTISPASMODIC - used to relieve spasms.
    DEMULCENT - inflammation relief.
    DIURETIC - help with the flow of urine.
    EMETIC - induce vomiting.
    EMMENAGOGUE - help with menstruation flow.
    EMOLLIENT - balm for inflamed skin.
    FEBRIFUGE - fever control
    LAXATIVE - constipation.
    NERVINE - the nervous system treatment.
    SEDATIVE - help with sleep and relaxation.
    TONIC- revitalize and strengthen the whole body.

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    for growing some of the drugs that they used medicinally(*5).

    Some fifteen hundred different plants, pastes, potions, and powders were catalogued soon after the conquest by a variety of historians. The Mexica were sophisticated enough to wrap flower petals around certain medicines to form a type of capsule, or "pill" for easy consumption(*6). Many of these medicinally used plants and herbs are still in use today and can be found in sidewalk drugstores(*7). Photographs of the disease are often posted along with the various jars, bags and other containers displayed, depicting the ailment the drug is intended to cure or provide some sort of relief.

    5 Townsend, p. 170-171, relates the location of several tended gardens that may have produced some of the medicinal items used routinely by the Mexica. One was constructed by an engineer called Pinotel, commissioned by Moctezuma I, to build a garden near Huaxtepec. This garden was a horticultural experiment that successfully transplanted trees and herbs from the coastal regions to the Valley of Mexico. During the transplanting the gardeners would let blood over the planting area from their ears and fast for eight days. Gillmore, pp. 169-170 gives the spelling as Pinotl and relates the story in detail and assigns Pinotl as being a tribute collector from the Cuetlaxtlan region. Gillmore further relates in her notes, p. 236, that certain medicinal plants grown in this garden were cultivated after the conquest for a hospital in Mexico City run by Gregorio Lopez.

    The lord of Texcoco, Netzahualcoyotl, maintained an extensive medicinal garden of trees and therapeutic plants at Tetzcotzingo. Cortes wrote to King Charles V. of his observations of the extensive gardens at Ixtapalapan, as noted in his second letter to the King written in 1520. The great garden at Huaxtepec was discussed in his third letter.

    6 Gillmore, p. 189.

    7 The sidewalk drugstore I am most familiar with is located just outside the tourist zone in Nogalas Sonora and is just feet away from a traditional pharmacy. The pharmacy is full of tourists and what look like well off local residents, while the sidewalk vendor always seems to have a good crowd of what appear to be less economically stable local residents. The vendor had approximately 100 different large clear plastic bags and jars with various dried roots, powders, and herbs. I have also observed similar sidewalk drugstores throughout Asia.

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    The Mexica seemed not to encompass medicine into their long list of social taboo subjects, and approached the science with an open mind. The history of the Valley of Mexico teaches us that the area was a melting pot of cultures. For centuries various tribes from both North and South America settled and mingled in the fertile valley of central Mexico.

    The various medicine practitioners must have sought each other out and traded recipes, stories and secrets. The discoveries made by each tribe were discussed, tried and experimented with. The good ones eventually would have been accepted into general daily practice. The Mexica even had a crude dental industry in practice. Common tooth decay among the Mexica was treated with crude fillings and drugs were used for anesthetic. Feather quills and cactus spines were used as simple instruments. Ground seeds and roots of the nettle plant was used for the treatment of festering gums(*8).

    The general state of sanitary conditions in the streets, homes, and great ceremonial centers, located near the great city of Tenochtitlan, were exceptional and well regulated. Although I'm not sure this sanitation was done in the name of any health related regulation but rather a way to keep a large number of people gainfully employed and give the various deities a clean place to rest.

    The city streets were well swept and kept clean(*9), drainage was well mastered, and most human waste was collected and disposed of or used in an agricultural manner(*10). The daily garbage generated by the large population of the city(*11) was treated in a like manner. Several reports by the conquering Spanish make reference to the cleanliness of the great city of Tenochtitlan and the surrounding area.

    8 Liquidamber styraciflua, or sweet gum (copal) was applied to a cheek in hot form for a common toothache. Vogel, pp. 378-9.

    9 Meyer, p. 89, indicates that a crew of over a thousand people were daily assigned to the task of cleaning the city streets of the great Mexica city of Tenochtitlan.

    10 Innes, p. 140, relates that canoes of human waste were taken up various creeks and sold for the manufacture of salt and skin curing. Urine was made into dye.

    11 Buckets of human waste were routinely reported to have been seen sold in the marketplace for use as fertilizer. Human waste was barged with garbage out of the city. There must have been landfills and dumping areas. I have not been able to ascertain the locations of these Aztec "dumps", however, a likely spot may have been on the eastern shore of Lake Texcoco near the Chimalhuacan area.

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    The common Mexica household maintained a good sense of personal hygiene and bathed often, once a day was common(*12). Aztec society before the arrival of the Spanish could be considered a healthy one. Medicine seemed to be confined strictly to the treatment of diseases, both physical and spiritual and not to physical (*13).

    As soon as 1553, by royal order, the Spanish began to establish a system. This order called for the establishment of a hospital program to tend to the medical needs of ill Indians in the cities and countryside. By 1570 King Philip II had sent his personal doctor, Francisco Hernandez, to Mexico who spent seven years in the study of the native plants of Mexico as well as a general study of Aztec medicine, and took his finding back to Spain(*14).

    In 1580 Mexico City could boast four hospitals for Spaniards(*15), one hospital for the Indian population, and one hospital for Negroes and Mestizos(*16). Various groups of nuns and monasteries in Mexico began to open their doors and concentrate their energy on the health of Mexico.

    12 One of the hardest traditions the early Spanish priests tried to break was the practice of adult men bathing with young girls and older women bathing with young males.

    13 During an earthquake it was common practice to publicly sacrifice a hunchback, or other severely deformed, to stem the destruction. For this reason hunchbacks and other afflicted with physical deformities were well treated by society and kept close at hand.
    14 He intended to publish his work but much of his work was destroyed. He did however collect information on over twelve hundred different plants used in medicine.

    15 Apparently the hospitals were well funded. According to Lockhart, p. 216 & p. 284, one particular Mexico City hospital, Nuevstra Senora de la Concepcion, was supported by a large ranch it owned called Estancia of Mestepec in the western part of Ixtlahuaca. As of 1585 the estancia could boast possession of 10,400 sheep, as well as black slaves to run the ranch.

    16 Meyer, p. 245. Meyer further relates that these hospitals were more like "rest homes" and provided only minimal treatments. The good Bishop Zumarraga established a hospital in Mexico City for the treatment of Venereal diseases with an asylum for the insane soon following. Even with the coming of European medicine the early Spanish colonists could only expect to live half as long as we do today.

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    In 1533 the Spanish crown was calling for anyone practicing medicine to have been examined by a qualified university to ascertain competence of the medical practitioner. In 1621 a department of surgery and anatomy was initiated at the University of Mexico. By 1791 there were barely two hundred and twenty one surgeons and barbers(*17) in Mexico to service the native population. Those practitioners were located mostly in the large cities with little contact with the rural areas(*18). Considering the large Indian population in the countryside, it is no wonder that ancient cures and medicines persisted into daily practice and can still be found to be in use in large sections of Mexico today.

    Medicine in Mexico has never seemed to be a great burning political cause, or at least at other times than election periods. Even during the Mexican revolutionary period, 1910-1940, the population tended to place land reform and education above the health of the common people. The medical system in Mexico today still relies heavily upon ancient cures and the local midwives and medicine men. Fortunately for the poor many of these herbs, remedies and potions actually work.

    This system of medicine provided a base for the formal medical community to build upon. Recent awareness of the importance of some of the old medicines has led to university level interest into the study and documentation of some of the ancient herbal remedies still in practice by the Indians of Mexico and other middle and South American Indian tribes. local medicine people are being contacted in rural areas of Mexico today and specimens tested for cancer relieving properties, tuberculosis, and a host of modern day ailments including AIDS research. One such program is funded by agreements reached at the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil(*19).

    17 Surgeons, or the common official medical practitioner, was also a barber.

    18 Meyer, p. 245.

    19 Current team researchers are from the University of Arizona, Purdue University, Louisiana State University, the Institute of Biological Resources in Argentina, the National University of Patagonia in Argentina, the Catholic University of Chile, the National University of Mexico and the American Cyanamid Company. This team is headed (as of this writing) by Barbara A. Timmermann professor of pharmacology/toxicology and arid lands studies, the University of Arizona. She has been studying and relating her finding of the subject of desert plants for 30 years. An article outlining this on-going research project with a photograph of Professor Timmermann is featured in THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR, p. 1 B, September 4, 1994. Professor Timmermann is known to lecture on the subject.

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    The Mexica tended to eat quite well and adapted to their surrounding environment with ease(*20). Although there was limited year around fruit production in the Valley of Mexico, the Mexica were able to obtain necessary vitamins supplements of A and C from the various chilies they cultivated and used as condiments(*21). Although we tend to think of the Mexica as a strictly corn based society they cultivated another grain called "Huautli", or amaranth in large quantities(*22). Amaranth grain is high in protein and is today making a comeback in dietary popularity after centuries of lost general appeal. Cultivation of wild onions as well as tomatoes, called "xictomatl", and green tomatoes called "tomatl"(*23), were available as well as several squash varieties and mushrooms.

    Cultivated root crops such as sweet potatoes, called "camotli"(*24), and the "jicama", a turnip like root, were served in a variety of meals. Meat was commercially raised and made available to the general population from the production of turkeys(*25), dogs(*26), mice, pigs(*27), wild sheep, and

    20 In their early history, before the founding of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica tribe was banished to a rocky and unwanted section of land in the lake area that was infested with rattlesnakes. The Mexica soon developed a taste for rattlesnake meat and thrived as a tribe.

    21 Chili pods were mostly roasted and then ground into a powder. The Aztec would boil this powder with water to make a kind of sauce similar to modern Tabasco sauce. Chili is an Aztec word the Spanish called them "pimientas" or peppers.

    22 Amaranth fields were primarily located south of the lake area while corn was grown practically everywhere.

    23 The Aztec taught the Spanish several ways to prepare tomatoes including cooked or mixed with peppers. The Spanish soon carried the seeds of this plant to Europe where it gained instant popularity. At first no one would eat the fruit of this plant and grew them strictly as decorations. Fear of the fruit was hard to overcome and as late at 1820 Robert Johnson of Salem, New Jersey publicly announced that he would eat a tomato on the steps of the city courthouse. Shocked townsfolk watched in horror as Mr. Johnson ate not one but a small basketful of tomatoes.

    24 These were probably Dioscorea villosa, wild yams. Also known as colic root or rheumatism root. Wild yams were used medicinally as a diaphoretic and as a expectorant.

    25 The cock turkey species that grew a blue wattle was thought to be an emblem of the deity Tezcatlipoca, and the gobbling sound made by this bird was a representation of his voice. Aztecs would display their symbols as a sign of reverence.

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    ducks(*28). People living outside the confines of the cities could always rely on hunting for other wild meat sources such as venison or rabbit. Insects as well as fish and a protein rich algae(*29) could be harvested from the lake areas(*30) and various streams. Varieties of beans were cultivated commercially and was a staple source for needed protein to the diet of the Mexica.

    Some fruit production of the guava, (Psidium guajava), family, avocados, (Persea gratissima), and apples were combined with the heavy cultivation of the Maguay plant to provide needed diet supplements. An indigenous melon called "ayotli" was also harvested. The broad leaves of the nopal cactus, "tunafruit" were also consumed. Coconuts, (Cocos nucifera), were plentiful in the coastal regions which were conquered and under the control

    26 Nicholson's MEXICAN AND CENTRAL AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY, p. 37, related that these bred dogs were called "Xoloitzcuintli" and is not to be confused with the well known Chihuahua. This Xoloitzcuintli was a much larger dog and is today believed to be the first domesticated animal in all of the Americas. The breed was almost extinct until recently a dog fancier, Norman Pelham Wright, was able to obtain a few pure animals and as of the writing of her book at least seventy had been registered with the Mexican kennel club. Innes, p. 140, relates the Aztecs would often fatten and castrate these dogs for the dinner table. Fat from these dogs was used medicinally to clean wounds, a treatment that the Spaniards adopted.

    27 Pigs raised were only semi-domesticated often caught as wild piglets. Cottie Burland, GODS AND FATE IN ANCIENT MEXICO, p.80, relates stories of these piglets being treated very well, even breast-feeding from the Aztec women.

    28 It is likely that the poorer or common Mexica saw little of domesticated meat sources and that the majority of the meat went to the Nobel classes. With the exception of those living in the rural areas and able to hunt, the common Mexica saw little meat in the daily diet.

    29 Innes, p. 140, relates that this algae was formed into cakes and tasted much like a kind of cheese.

    30 The lake area provided a wealth of ready food items for the Mexica. Gillmore, p. 7, relates many creative ways in using the animals and food sources. One interesting collection method involved stretching out nets to catch low flying birds. Wild marsh grasses were collected rich with the eggs of waterflies. The eggs were sun dried and made into a paste.

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    of the Mexica empire and probably made their way in the form of tribute to Tenochtitlan.

    The mainstay of the Mexica diet was the tortilla, made from corn. The tradition continues today with little change. The kernels are cooked with lime to remove the husk and then ground on a stone slab with a grinding stone.

    The dough is formed into little round balls and then patted out by hand into thin round cakes or wrapped in a corn husk, the tamale, to then fill and eat.

    Ritual (*31) can not be ignored, there are just too many references to it's widespread use. Reports of human flesh for sale in the great marketplace and numerous reports in the various codices associated with the Mexica, indicate the serving of human flesh for consumption in conjunction with festivals.

    The flesh(*32) of the sacrificed victims was cooked with corn in a broth, the stew was called "tlacatlaolli"(*33).

    31 The word cannibalism is Spanish in origin referring to the Carib Indians. Cannibalism was not limited to the New World and has been practiced by many societies for many different reasons. While in the New World it was primarily used to join with the victim or as a food source. In areas such as Tibet and Micronesia, the dead were honored by eating the corpse.

    32 Cannibalism was well established with the ancient Chichimecs who were known to kill their fellows for the only purpose of eating. Diaz reports that in Mexica society the unwanted parts of the sacrificial victims would be sold in the marketplace as protein. A common cooking method was to stew human flesh with corn and serve the dish as "tlacatlaolli", loosely meaning "human stew".

    After a sacrifice the captor was often given the corpse of the person he took in battle and provided a feast for his friends and relatives but did not eat the flesh of the victim as he considered the dead victim as "his beloved son". Others at the party ate with no such feelings. The captor viewed the victim as his mirrored self.

    33 According to Boone's translation of the Codex Magliabechiano in her work, p. 213, human flesh was compared to the taste of pork. Boone further references that native Indians were fond of pork meat brought to New Spain after the conquest for this reason.

    The actual glyph, contained in Nuttall's THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE ANCIENT MEXICANS (The Codex Magliabechiano), folio 73, depicts more than a stew and in fact indicates whole body parts, heads, arms, legs and other parts, in earthen jars being passed among Indians. An interesting essay titled Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity? by Bernard R. Ortiz de Montellano can be viewed on-line.

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    A favorite of the Mexica was the cacao bean(*34) which was roasted and ground, sometimes with parched corn, and added with water and beaten with a special stick to produce a frothy state. Cacao is also a source of fat(*35). This caffeine laden drink could then be flavored with honey or a wild vanilla(*36) extract to be consumed for either pleasure or as prescribed medicine.

    Pulque(*37), a fermented alcoholic drink made from the maguey plant, is known to contain a generous portion of the helpful vitamin C and was also a favorite beverage, although drunkenness was punishable by death it did not seen to dampen the use of the drink and extensive private and public consumption was commonplace.

    Maize was roasted to produce a form of popcorn(*38) and shelled peanuts were eaten by the population as well, and were probably enjoyed as a sort of "fun food" as snacks then, as much as they are consumed and in popular use today. Chewing gum was produced by the bitumen plant and used to clean the of the Mexica(*39).

    34 The cocoa bean was cultivated mostly in the coastal regions of the Tabasco and Veracruz regions as well as the Pacific coastal areas of Guatemala. The cacao bean was a staple of tribute sent to Tenochtitlan as well as frequently used as a form of currency. The modern name cocoa is from the Mexica "chocolatl". The unsweetened drink made from these beans was called "cacaoquahitl" and was made by simply boiling the dried beans in water. A second and tastier drink was called "chocolatl" and was thickened with vanilla, honey, and other spices.

    ..The following letter was sent to me through a discussion group I belong to and further details the subject of chocolate....FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE THE FOOD SECTION IN THE AZTEC LINK LIST....tom

    ...... Actually, the Mexica called the drink by many names, depending on what recipe they were talking about, as chocolate could be (and was) served with all sorts of flavorings, including flowers, honey, ground chile, and many more ingredients. "Chocolatl" is not, though, a Nahuatl word. The more widely used name for cacao-based drinks among the Mexica was "cacauatl", which means "cacao water". The origin for our word "chocolate" appears to be a combination of Mayan and Nahuatl, as the Maya called their drink (which they preferred to drink hot, as opposed to the Mexica who apparently used it as a refreshment) "chocol ha", which literally means "hot water" in Yucatec. Since the Spaniards probably first came across the drink in the Maya area, it is probable that they picked the name "chocol ha" there, later changing the Mayan word for water ("ha") for the Nahuatl one ("atl"), thus forming the word "chocol atl" which was later changed to "chocolate" (there are plenty of examples in which Nahuatl words ending in "tl" were changed to a "te" ending by the Spaniards, who seem to have had a hard time with the pronunciation of Nahuatl words, to wit: tomate (originally "tomatl"), aguacate (originally, "ahuacatl"), cuate (originally "coatl"), metate ("¿metatl?"), etc.). As for the name of the fruit and its precious seeds ("cacao", from where the English word "cocoa" is derived), it probably is of Mixe-Zoquean origin, according to several linguists who have studied it. Its adoption in Mayan languages (in which it is written phonetically as ka-ka-w on vases and codices) is probably one of many things inherited by the Pre-Classic Maya from the Olmec.

    I would unhesitatingly direct anybody interested in this subject to Sophie and Michael Coe's 'The True History of Chocolate" (Thames & Hudson, 1996).

    Jorge Perez de Lara

    ...............END OF LETTER................

    35 Yucatecs are known to have extracted a grease which was formed into a type of butter.

    36 Vanilla beans, V. planifolia, derive from a wild orchid that grows wild in the lowlands of Eastern Mexico. The beans are harvested from a long thin pod that takes a year to grow. Of interest, the Mexican orchid is the only known orchid to be pollinated naturally, by bees, other world wide varieties must be pollinated by hand.

    37 Pulque is actually a Spanish word as the Aztec made a form of wine called "Octli", from this plant. Pulque may more resemble a form of what we may recognize as a type of beer.

    38 Popcorn was called "momochitl" and was worn as a garland as well as other decorative uses.

    39 Townsend, p. 172, related that snapping gum in public was considered rude or offensive.

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    As with all areas of this web site I encourage anyone wishing to post a paper or individual research into this section to do so. If you are a student just starting your research I further encourage you to read the thoughts and opinions of others along with the pages presented here. As I am so often reminded, the study of religion is subjective by nature.  ....Tom

    The Mexica people were neurotic. Tenochtitlan was the center of the empire and the most neurotic. From birth to the grave the typical citizen of the empire lived in a constant state of fear and apprehension. Fear that at any moment the earth would end violently or a wandering deity might inflict grave illness. The smallest deviance from a well defined daily regiment may unleash personal misfortune or an even greater wrath from the gods upon society as a whole. The universe was in complete chaos. Even the sun's ability to rise each morning was in doubt. The Aztec believed they were governed by fate and had no real control over their daily lives. The concept of an afterlife was foreign and death was final(*40).

    The Mexica world was full of omens, both good and bad. One had to constantly be alert for signs and pay strict attention to daily routine and ritual. A bird singing, a stone overturned, the sound of the wind - every aspect of nature was speaking and the Aztec had to listen, intently. There was one religion and the earth was doomed. Melancholy, pessimism, and dread engulfed the Aztec mocking life itself.

    Depression must have been everywhere and so commonplace that it must have been thought of as a normal condition. There was no happiness in Mexica society. Childhood was a gauntlet of pain and self denial. Adolescence was manipulated toward state behavior control with sex used as a controlling weapon(*41). Adulthood became a zombie like existence with obedience, self blood letting, and deity worship at the core. Only if a person was lucky enough to reach old age was there some relief. At that time they were allowed to indulge themselves with alcohol until death finally overcame them.

    Society had developed into a ritualistic parody of free will. The average man went about his daily routine as if following a written script. Their religion was their purpose in life. Success in life certainly was measured in acquired wealth, however, the poorest man who kept his routine was well respected in his community. After all, even wealth was pre-ordained by the gods and luck or hard work had little or nothing to do with it.

    40 A lucky few did, with proper behavior, go upon death to a land governed by a particular deity.

    41 Adolescent girls were encouraged to publicly mock boys that had not yet captured a warrior in battle for sacrifice. Sex was quite out of the question for one so weak in battle. It is highly unlikely that the Aztec teenagers were any different physically than our own society and this form of control must have been the driving force in their lives during puberty.

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    The Mexica citizen was surrounded by a well ordered and structured society that publicly displayed constant reminders that the world was in perpetual turmoil and may perish at any moment and for no reason. The yearly calendar was one long festival and daily reminder for the proper homage to the deities. As related by Diaz, Duran and Sahagun, public displays of mass executions and torture were daily public events.

    The daily routine was a constant regiment of ritual that included bloodletting and sacrifice. A common misconception of the Mexica is they had no regard for human life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Mexica viewed human life and blood as the most precious thing in nature. What better to offer the deities than the most precious element they possessed? The collective effect of years of this type of behavior and paranoia is immeasurable by our standards today. We must guess at the consequences on the mental health of the average individual.

    Many scholastic history books depict the Mexica as Nobel warriors, with a great and powerful expanding society and as empire builders. It would be just as easy to depict them as a nation of hopeless neurotics, letting blood from their genitals before leaving their house in case a deity was offended, causing a giant rock to fall out of the sky and kill them. They didn't just think this was possible, they believed it! What is worse is if we are to believe such historians as Sahagun and Duran, that they taught these beliefs to their children.

    Imagine a society where a man rubs dead spiders on his skin, never takes a bath, and keeps his hair matted(*42) with blood. This man even buys babies from your neighborhood to rip their hearts out for the gods, and then eats the remaining parts. Further imagine that you envy his job - because it's better than yours as a collector of public excrement. There must have been someone who had the job to keep the heads of people be-headed stuck on poles and facing the proper direction. Of even sillier note someone had to interview him for the position. "Tell me, do you have any experience in impaling a blood dripping head on a pole?" (I'll just bet someone said they were a quick learner).

    The criminals of this society were odd. Thieves would actually carry around the severed left arm of a woman who died in childbirth, and think they were invisible. Worse yet, if one of them entered your house, you would pretend not to see them as they made off with your property and assaulted your wife and daughters. These thieves were invisible and if you could actually see them, you might be accused of a type of heresy and killed yourself.

    Leaving your house for a simple errand would add to your neurosis. Walking to the public market on any given day you

    42 It is believed that the priests did not wash their hair as a sort of penance or "giving themselves to dirt" in honor of their gods.

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    might witness public sacrifices, or have to dodge a rolling head falling from the steps of a temple. Children being carried on litters up to the mountains for sacrifice. Warriors and priests wearing the rotting skins of their victims was another common public sight. Upon reaching the market you might witness body parts for sale. There was no place in Mexica society that did not constantly assault the common man with pageantry, blood and ritual.

    How the human mind would develop and what psychiatric problems existed, no one really knows, but we can suppose. We now universally accept that we are a product of our environment and that environment shapes us into what we become as adults. We now know that abused children are greatly pre-disposed to abuse their children in like ways. The Mexica were conditioned from birth to follow orders and not question their lot in life. Stress was ever present in their daily lives. We do know from records that the Mexica suffered a host of stomach and intestinal ailments. It would not be difficult to make a stress related argument for some of the causes of these disorders.

    Where the physical side of Aztec health might be considered relatively good, the mental health of the population might be thought of as poor. The average man was melancholy and depressed. A prisoner of fate and destiny. Free will was nonexistent. The average woman burdened with natural maternal drives that were in conflict with masochistic societal pressure.

    In some ways women fared worse than men. Men could always lose themselves in combat and strictly male oriented pursuits. Women were forced to keep house and their behavior quite regulated. Women were treated as little more than slaves. Their sexual lives were controlled as well as their home life.

    What is most frightening is the willingness of the parents to inflict this society on their children. The worst case of child abuse you may be familiar with would pale in comparison to the daily upbringing of children in Aztec society. The children were raised in a world of real monsters, and their priests only too willing to kill and eat them. The Mexica had to invent a deity to come to their children's beds at night and help bring them sleep(*43), the nightmares must have been horrible.

    We do know that these children grew to adulthood and must have brought a host of mental problems with them. When it came time to start a family these disturbed adults raised their children the only way they knew. They raised a new generation of monsters. Generation after generation the Aztec added to their religious rituals. And with each generation they evolved into even more neurotic creatures. There is no model that we might judge them by.

    43 IXTILTON - "Little Black One"

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    The biological or "disease" side of mental illness is more difficult to speculate on. Certainly the population carried a proportionate amount of illness to our own modern civilizations. Where the correlation may tend to differ is the size of the gene pool that carried these natural mental desires. Modern societies tend to isolate and control an individual with anti-social characteristics. In our society they do not tend to reproduce themselves in a disproportionate manner, in fact society may even act as a deterrence to their reproduction.

    In Mexica society any rational individual probably would have been quickly selected for sacrifice and tended not to reproduce. The effect of generations of an anti-social population breeding and weeding out what we may think of today as "normal" rational people, certainly would contaminate the gene pool. This would result in a higher national rate of biologically inherited mental diseases and illnesses.

    We would consider the Mexica individual as insane by our modern standards. Mexica society was certainly considered inhuman by many. The Spanish soon after the conquest did everything in their power to burn the Mexica books and destroy any trace of the Mexica civilization. The Spanish saw nothing worth preserving. It is only by sheer luck that a handful of individuals, much after the conquest and in the nick of time, recorded what little information survives(*44). Just what did the Spanish see?

    44 By the time Duran and Sahagun began talking to old men and asking questions about the old Aztec civilization, these old men had been well schooled in the concept of heresy. Just how truthful these old men were in relating the true horror is not known. An argument could be made that they only related enough to satisfy the priests.

    NOTE* I received the following differing view on Aztec Mental health in letter form and am posting it here to present a different view. The author of the letter wanted to stress that the following is opinion and not from cited sources.

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Ambrose Blackthorne
    Subject: Mental Health in the Aztec Empire

    I was intrigued by your appraisal of the mental health of the average Aztec citizen--but I am afraid I must disagree with it completely. I am not a professor of Meso-American archaeology at all--rather, I am an amateur with a deep interest in and admiration for all the cultures of Ancient Mexico and Central America--however, I will attempt to explain what I feel to be the level of mental health in Ténochtitlan or anywhere else in Anahuac.

    One thing all students of "Mexicology" must remember is that the Aztecs, Mayans, Zapotecs, etc. were an utterly different culture from anything in the Old World, and thus we must leave behind our assumption that they think just as Europeans did. Thus, the supposition that the average Aztec was completely neurotic is (pardon me, I don't mean to sound rude) somewhat faulty. A European or a modern-day American, sent back to Aztec Mexico, would be terrified, fitting the profile you described. However, the average Aztec did not view what he saw around him as any sort of living hell or slaughterhouse. The Aztecs did not think of ripping out a prisoners heart and putting his head on a stake as an evil act--rather, it was simply part of the traditional religious cycle practiced for centuries before the founding of Ténochtitlan.

    When the Spaniards arrived, fresh from their own Inquisition, they were terrified to see the Aztec people flagrantly defying their moral order by practicing human sacrifice--this was a terror the Mexica did not understand because it was a cultural institution to which they had grown accustomed. Many people have tried to point out human sacrifice as some sort of terrorist custom designed to cow the Aztec people, but I am again forced to disagree because these sorts of accusations do not come from an objective viewpoint.

    As for your comment regarding Ixlilton, the very same thing might be said regarding children today. Does this little god not sound like Mr. Sandman? Would it be apt to say that American parents, living in one of the most violence-obsessed and violent nations on earth, tell their children about Mr. Sandman to prevent them from having nightmares about the evening news? It seems to me that when modern day America is compared to the Aztec Empire, we are the more violent of the two.

    --Ambrose Blackthorne

    --------------LETTER I received the follow letter  and am posting it here

    From: J.Y.
    Subject: point of interest

    .....It may be a point of interest to you that this complies with Darwin's theory of evolution, which he in his later years abandoned. If you look into why he abandoned his theory you would see that it was because through mathematical genetic proof, and observation, it was found (and is still accepted today) that we have dominant and recessive traits. If a family had 10 kids, and one of those kids showed a strong trait, all the kids carried the gene.. it was just dominant in one, so it has been found that selective breeding does not alter the gene pool to any permanent degree. Especially in a mainly uncontrolled situation like that, the people overall would not change.

    The modern theory of evolution relies on the modification of genes through mutation from the sun and other radiation sources. This method will not just 'hide' a characteristic but it creates or destroys them.

    -----------end of letter

    Return to Table of Contents

    PAGE 16


    ATLAN TLACHIXQUI - meaning "A Looker into Water". A seer who would diagnose a child's illness by looking at the reflection of a child's face in a pan of water.

    MATLAPOUHQUI - meaning "One Who Has Counted Things". A sorcerer. This man would determine the outcome of an illness by measuring a patient's forearm with the palm of his hand and his fingers. See also ATLAN TLACHIXQUI.

    MECATLAPOUHQUE - meaning "Fortune Teller by the Strings". According to Sahagun, these tellers would use bundles of strings which were thrown. If the strings remained tangled it was a sign of grave sickness. If one of the strings came untwined, a cure was possible. These tellers would also rub their hands with tobacco and measure the left arm of the patient with the palm of the healers right hand. This practice was called the "measurement of the arm"(*46).

    NAHUALLI - meaning "Witch or Sorcerer, Magician, Necromancer". This healer was believed to have the power to transform him/herself into an animal. Possibly a person who attempted to invoke magic to cure a patient. Name may have meant "The Wise One". When all else failed, the Mexica medical practitioners often resorted to magical cures.

    PAHINI - meaning "To Drink Medicine". May have referred to the individual who would drink Medicine, or what we may call drugs, for the purpose of ascertaining the illness of the afflicted patient. The Mexica were not as developed medically in the field of finding the cause of the illness in their patient as they were in effecting a cure for the illness.

    TEMIXIHUITIANI - meaning "To Give Birth", or possibly " To Cause Someone to Give Birth". This person may have been brought in to induce labor. Possibly this practitioner was considered to be one step higher than a common midwife. See also TEPALEHUIANI listing.

    The birthing process was an important aspect both physically and socially in the Mexica community. It is not unreasonable to assume that various medical levels were devoted to this area of

    45 The Mexica deity Quetzalcoatl was known as the Lord of Healing and Magical Herbs, and considered one of the givers of knowledge of medicine to the Mexica. The deity Quilazli- "She Who Makes Legumes Grow" was also known as the Patron of Midwives and worshiped by medical practitioners as well.

    46 Soustelle, p. 195.

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    medicine. Women who died during childbirth were given the highest honor and thought to go to the same place as warriors who died in battle, the place of the sun, there was no higher plane.

    TEPALEHUIANI - meaning "To Help Someone", or "One Who Customarily Helps Someone". The practitioners known as Tepalehuiani, may have been a midwife.

    TETLACHIHUIANI - meaning "To Do Something For Someone". A sorcerer, according to Sahagun, who "Bewitches" people. This bewitchment may have had constructive purposes in the process of medicinal curing. The process of magic and medicine were intertwined in the thought as well as the daily practice of Mexica herbal medicine(*47).

    TETONALTIH - meaning "A Healer of the Soul?". Person used to retrieve the lost soul of a sick patient. The Mexica believed the soul to be a treatable part of the body(*48).

    TEXOXQUI - meaning "A Wizard or Witch". A malevolent sorcerer who would bewitch.

    TEYOLLOHCUANI - meaning "To Eat Someone at the Heart". A blood eating sorcerer or sorceress who brings about sickness. Possibly an evil sorcerer.

    TICITL - meaning "Doctor or caster of lots". Physician or counselor, could be used by a midwife should the need arise and complications set in during a pregnancy. Midwives were quite capable practitioners in their field and the calling in of a Ticitl(*49) was probably not a common occurrence. See also TEMIXIHUITIANI and TEPALEHUIANI listings.

    TLACHIXQUI - meaning "One Who Has Looked". A prophet, a seer. See also ATLAN TLACHIXQUI listing.

    TLAMACAZQUI - meaning "One Who Will Give Something". A Priest?

    TLAOLXINIANI - meaning "One Who Causes Shelled Maize to Collapse". A healer who would help a sick person by tossing maize kernels into the air and then diagnosing the patient by reading the position of the fallen kernels. The process of throwing maize kernels was a widely practiced diagnostic tool.

    47 Soustelle, p. 192, mentions "tetlacuicuilique", they who draw out stones from the body, "tetlanocuilanque", those who draw out worms from the teeth, and "teixocuilanque", those who draw out worms from the eyes. These three are described as being healing women and possibly related.

    48 The reference to soul is somewhat ambiguous as the Mexica had no concept of eternity or reincarnation as it applies to man. They did, however, attribute this ability to their deities.

    49 Wolfgang Von Hagen, p. 109, theorizes that the name "ticitl" may have derived from "tetla-acuicilique", meaning "he-who- recovers-the-stone". The reference to the stone is as the medicine man before trying a herbal approach often looked for stones to withdraw from the body

    Return to Table of Contents

    PAGE 18


    This section draws heavily from Alcaron's book which was written in 1629. Certainly some medical modification had developed from the time of the conquest to the time of the writing of his book, however, where there is smoke there is fire and this section can certainly serve as a base to anyone interested in further researching this interesting and little researched area of Aztec Pharmacology(*50).
    | |
    | |

    50 Alcaron's book is well written and contains a good starting point for a student interest in this area.

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    AGUAMIEL - meaning "The Sap of the Maguey". Fermented, this sap produced Pulque. See also OCTLI and MAGUEY listings.

    AMARANTH - The grain when ground and made into the image of a mountain or hill was thought to have healing powers for those suffering from tumors, paralysis, lameness and other body imperfections(*51).

    AMATE - Ficus Glabrata. The Wild Fig. This tree does not produce edible fruit. Known as tree killers as the seeds of this tree lodge in other trees and grow to crush the host. Paper was made from this tree and some of the paper was cut into shapes of humans and animals for witchcraft purposes. Often these images were buried in front of the house of someone you wanted to injure or make ill.

    AMPOULE - Sapindus saponorious. Roots of this plant were used to poison fish(*52).

    ATL INAN - meaning "It's Mother is Water". Herb used as an additive for an enema to treat stomach pains, or mixed with water and twelve maize kernels for fevers. Leaves of the plant were chewed in the morning to relieve fever and help with ulcers. Had many other uses such as stopping diarrhea and dysentery. A natural astringent.

    ATOLLI - A thick sap made from water and corn meal with added fruit, honey or milk for taste to form a base to which medicine was added for the patient(*53). The Aztec herbal medicines were not very pleasant to the taste. See also COCOA listing.

    ATOCHIETL - A plant. Colds and respiratory problems could be helped by inhaling the odor of this plant.

    51 According to Duran, p. 452-453 these dough images were greatly revered during the thirteenth month of the Aztec calendar and were made during the Feast of Hueypachtli during the "Festival of the Hills", in which all mountains and hills were honored. It is probable that during such times the dough images held more power than at other times of the year.

    52 A relative, Sapindus drummondii, also contains this characteristic and further is used in soap making. This plant is found throughout Mexico and grows to over thirty feet with yellow berry-like fruit.

    53 Atoli seems to be the favorite mixing base for Mexica medicines with cacao a close second. Considering the source for most of the base drugs in the Mexica medical system it is not surprising that additives were widely used.

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    AYONELHUATL - An herb. Mixed with eagle excrement this mixture was inserted into the womb of a woman entering childbirth.

    AZIN - Potion made from insects which were cultivated and harvested naturally from trees(*54). The carefully selected and harvested insects were boiled in water and during the boiling process, a waxy like film would come to the surface of the water which was then collected. The film which came to the top of the boiled water was harvested and formed or fashioned into little round balls and used to cure rashes of the skin or treat ulcers and infections.

    According to Sahagun, this substance was also used to cure feet that fell asleep. Tumors and pain were also treated with this medicine. Mixed with the drug Piciyetl, it was used to treat hernias. Said to be a last resort for a serious case of diarrhea(*55).

    BALCHE - Lonchocarups longistylus. Known as the "Lance Pod" and as "Balch". A Mayan area tree bark which produced a fermented intoxication beverage. Tree produced flat seed post about three inches long and white or pink small blossoms. The extensive Mexica trading network probably was aware of this substance and returned to Tenochtitlan with knowledge of this tree and the bark itself.

    CACAO - From the tropical tree, Theobroma cacao(*56).Used as a base for the addition of other medicines. Primary use of this

    54 Branches of the Jatropha currca, and Spondias trees were the favorite roosting places of these bugs. Alcaron, p. 248. The DE LA CRUZ-BADIANO AZTEC HERBAL OF 1552 with an English translation by William Gates, Pub. #23, The Maya Society, Baltimore, 1939, gives uses for several plants and trees in Mexica society.

    55 Intestinal trouble seems to be a continuing ailment among the Mexica as most of their known medicines tended to deal with various related stomach problems. Culbert's book, p. 114, relates that the Maya suffered similar intestinal problems of either bacterial or parasitic origin, and considered these problems "endemic in the Maya population".

    56 Theobroma means "food of the gods". There are two other species which cocoa is produced T. angustifolium and T. bicolor, however there quality is not as good. When in commercial production the trees are kept to an approximate height of twenty five feet. The beans are collected from a pod with a thick rind. The pod houses five rows of almond shaped seeds in a light colored sweet pulp. After collection the seeds are removed from the pods and fermented for three to ten days to expel their bitterness and then dried. A mature tree produces approximately thirty bean pods annually, which produces about two pounds of beans, including the hulls.

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    popular bean was for taste, or hiding the taste of the various other medicines used. As cacao contains caffeine, the stimulant properties of the drug aspect of the bean can not be ignored and were probably used additionally as a sort of stimulant(*57).

    One of the largest cacao producing regions in Mesoamerica was located southeast of Xicalango in the Chontal Maya province of Acalan, meaning "place of canoes". As cacao ripens in stages throughout the year, it was a heavy labor oriented agricultural product to grow and harvest. See also ATOLLI listing as it too was used as a base and for flavoring.

    CAHALALAHTLI - A tree of which the root was mixed with the drug Piciyetl for head swelling. Cahalalahtli was also considered as part of the treatment for the cure of various tumors that inflicted the Mexica people.

    CHALALATLI - A root when mixed with tobacco was thought to be a cure for a swelling; head or headaches(*58). This root was possibly red.

    CHICHIQUAUITL - Garrya laurifolia. Used medicinally for the treatment of dysentery.

    CICIMATIC - Canavalia villosa. The root of this plant was chopped and administered for the cure of severe eye ailments. For common irritation of the eye, medicine was made from several plants including Bocconia arborea(*59).

    COANENEPILLI - meaning "Snake-tongue". (Herb) Bladderwort root is powdered and thickened with water and drunk for chest pain;. Mixed with other drugs it was used for fever as well. According to Sahagun, the drug Coanenepilli was also used as a cure for an afflicted individual who found blood in the urine and other urinary track ailments. Often mixed with ground corn and agave leaves and given as an emetic for dysentery. See also HUIHUITZMALLOTIC listing.

    This all purpose drug was also used for stimulating the appetite, coagulation of the blood to stop bleeding, as a general pain reliever, and as a cure for various snakebites.

    57 The Spanish Conquistadors made many references to the refreshing properties of this drink.

    58 Soutelle, p. 196.

    59 Vogel p. 204.

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    COLOPAHTLI - meaning "Scorpion Medicine". Drug made from a tree. Medical use in the treatment of hemorrhoids(*60) and for scorpion stings. Also found useful in the control of stomach pain and excess flatulence(*61).

    COPALLI (COPAL) - Many varieties are known to have existed and to have been commercially made and distributed, most of the Burserra genus. Aromatic tree with flowers. A resin was collected from the trunk of the copalli tree and processed into copal. The drug/smoke was primarily used as incense. Copal is still in production today.

    The Mexica medical practitioner used copalli in medicine for relief of general toothache pain and as a drinking medicine. Also used as an enema for the cure of diarrhea. Also used as a plaster after dissolving in water for application of excess swelling and general inflammations. Also useful for the treatment of headaches. Copal was used by most all civilizations in Mesoamerica and was extensively cultivated and used by the Maya.

    HUAUHTLI (Amaranth) - Amaranthus leucocarpus(*62). Sahagun describes this plant as producing a small dry fruity grain. This grain was ground into dough and made into the god images used in festivals, "seed-dough images". In medicine it was used to put on the body to reduce swellings. Also used as a cure for eye disease. Root or leaves of this plant were applied to the chest to relieve chest pain. The Mexica place some value toward this drug as a cure for advanced ulcers.

    HUEI NACAZTLI - meaning "Big Ear". Also referred to as the Eardrop Tree and Guanacaste. Made from a large tree, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, approximately 12-30 meters tall and member of the Mimosa family. The tree produced a dark brown

    60 Hemorrhoids and there cure are discussed extensively by Sahagun and the de la Cruz Herbal. Some cures involved such prescriptions as, first catch a weasel and eat it.

    61 Flatulence seems to have been a problem of concern among the Mexica as a variety of drugs were prescribed for it's treatment, see also MAGUEY listing.

    62 Amaranth is a wild grain known the world over for colorful foliage, usually red. To the ancient Greeks it was a symbol of immortality used in wreath making and as decorations for their tombs. In addition to garden varieties for consumption, the weed family of amaranth includes "tumbleweeds". Amaranthus retroflexua, or cockscomb, is known to be used for the treatment of diarrhea and menorrhagia, Coon, p. 58.

    PAGE 23

    fruit from which the seeds are taken and used(*63). The fruit and bark of this tree are high in tannin levels which was probably it's main medicinal ingredient.

    Mixed with other herbs, portions of this medicinal tree were used to cure fevers, or added to chocolate and tobacco as medicine. Huei Nacaztli was also used as a cure for excess body fatigue(*64) and worn around the neck as an amulet for the protection of people traveling about the land. Probably worn extensively by members of the merchant class.

    HUIHUITZMALLOTIC. An herb. Should the drug COANENEPILLI fail to work, this herb was mixed with honey and inserted into the penis to cure urinary problems(*65).

    IXYAYAUL - (mountain balm). Prescribed for urinary complaints and mixed with the vine "Oquichpatli".

    IYAUHTLI - meaning "An Offered-up Thing". Herb, Tagetes lucida, referred to as "the sweet smelling marigold(*66)". Used as incense. Medicinally mixed with piciyetl for the relief of chest pain. Was also considered useful in the treatment of gout and fevers. Hiccups could also be treated. This herb further held a mild sedating property. May have been referred to by the Mexica as Yauhtli.

    IYETL - meaning "tobacco". Used as incense and as a medicine. Often other drugs were mixed with tobacco and smoked to ingest the medicinal properties of the various drugs. Also referred to as Yetl. Mexica priests were known to carry Iyetl with them in little bags. Tobacco was also mixed with salt and pepper as an abdominal purge and for diarrhea. Juice from

    63 The Chiapas Indians are known to have roasted the seeds of this tree and during times of famine used them to replace grain crops in their diet. Pesman, p. 86.

    64 According to Fackelman, quoting from Robert Bye of the Botanical Garden in Mexico City, Aztec healers would mix a potion of digestive stones found in bird gizzards, animal blood, and boiled selected herbs. This mixture was said to relieve fatigue and to restore energy. The mixture was also thought to relieve tired feet. A popular application of this mixture was to take a bath in the healing properties.

    65 Wolfgang von Hagen, p. 112.

    66 The marigold is of the genus Tagetes with two common species African or (Aztec), and French. Both are native to Mexico with the latter having smaller heads. In Europe "pot marigolds" were of the genus Calendula where they also were used medicinally, as a food additive and for coloring, Bridgwater, p. 297.

    PAGE 24

    tobacco would be used as an antidote and for arrow poison (*67). Tobacco further holds a small antiseptic property. See also PICIYETL listing.

    IZTACPATLI- Psoralea pentaphylla. Used medicinally for the control of fever.

    IXTACOANENEPILLI - Used medicinally for treatment as a diuretic.

    MACACOATL - The steepings of a snake used to increase sexual appetite and physical stamina. Clendinnen (*68) makes reference to this substance being used by prostitutes in the practice of their trade to drug their clients and take advantage of them. Legends surrounding this drug have a hapless man ingesting this drug and quite literally draining himself, drying up and dying as a result of excess sexual activity.

    MACPALXOCHIQUAUHITL - meaning "Hand Flower". Chiranthodendron pentadactylon. Bark of this tree mixed with the Datura plant and used for inflammations and skin eruptions. Flowers from the blooming season were either worn as amulets or preserved as medicine to treat hemorrhoids, epilepsy, and swelling of the genitalia(*69).

    MAGUEY - A word of Taino origin, and a term generally associated with Agaves. Most common among the many varieties was Agave americana, (Amaryllidaceae), Nahuatl equivalent is metl. Also called "century plant", "American aloe", and "American agave". More than 200 species are recorded. Plant from which pulque is made. Medically used as an intoxicant and as a base for medicines.

    Derivations of this plant were thought to prevent or assist in the elimination of various forms of lice infestation. Other use of this plant were to ease the process of childbirth, induces lactation, stop itching, help with the healing of bruises, and assist with the cure of
    67 Vogel p. 381.

    68 Aztecs, p. 167. She further relates how prostitutes would trick men into drinking too much of this drug.

    69 Emboden, pp. 16-19. This tree is related to the Cocoa bean tree and is also referred to as Cheiranthodendron pentadactylon. Other names associated with this tree are the Spanish " arbol de las manitas, or flow de manita" and as "mano de leon". Pesman, p. 208 list "Mano de Dragon" and "Handflower Tree" as other monikers.

    PAGE 25
    ulcers. Also useful in the cure of flatulence and snakebites. The juice of the maguey contains "sugar agavose" which is known for medicinal use(*70). The juice of this plant has properties beneficial as a diuretic and an antisyphilitic(*71). See also COLOPAHTLI OCTLI and AGUAMIEL listings.

    The leaves and root produced by this plant were used in the preparation of medicines as well as the various alcoholic beverages such as pulque and mescal(*72). Fibers of this plant were used in weaving, the spines as sewing needles. A type of soap(*73) was also produced from this plant. Next to corn, this plant was the most revered in Aztec society with over four hundred deities associated with it.

    MAIZE - From Spanish word "maiz". From the Taino word "mahiz". Nahuatl equivalent is "tlaolli", meaning "dried, shelled maize". Twenty five varieties of maize are known to have grown in the Valley of Mexico. The kernels of the Maize were used in fortune telling by the fortune teller and seer, and the root used for the cure of fever ailments. Also used to cure impotence and facial swelling. fatigue, ulcers, and kidney ailments were also treated with Maize in it's drug form. Maize further held a spiritual place among the Mexica, almost metaphysical. Maize was life to the Mexica.

    70 Bridgwater, p. 25.

    71 Coon, p. 49.

    72 Mescal, a low grade tequila, is mostly made from the Agave tequilana plant grown primarily in extensive fields located between the Tequila and Guadalajara regions. Both liquors are produced from the leaf base of the plant. After the plant matures and is ready to flower the leaves are cut, some weighing over a hundred pounds, and are called "cabezas" or in English "heads". According to Gentry, p. 15, it takes approximately eight years to grow the head which produces about five liters of tequila each. After being taken to distilleries, the heads are cooked for three to four days and the starches of the meristem are quickly converted to sugar. Fermentation is then allowed. The pulp is then pressed and the liquor is extracted. Other varieties, such as the Agave angustifolia, have been used for production as well. Mescal has always been considered as lower quality and may be compared to "moonshine" produced in the Southeastern United States.

    73 Soap was also produced from the roots of a tree the Aztecs called copal-xocotl which the Spaniards called the "soap tree". Wolfgang von Hagen, p. 76 refers to this tree as "Saponaria"

    PAGE 26
    MATLALITZTIC - Commelina pallida. Used medicinally as an antihaemorrhagic.

    MATLALXOCHITL - A plant root. "overheated eyes" could be treated with this root after curing the root with mother's milk(*74).

    MIXITL - See also TLAPATL. A datura derivative. Of this drug Sahagun related that it's effects "deadens the testicles" and "tightens the throat"(*75).

    MIZQUITL - (mesquite). Also known as the Honey Mesquite. Many varieties but the medicinal variety was probably Prosopis juliflora (*76). The sap of the tree was collected on the head of a pin and rubbed on the eye as a cure for eye ailments. The leaves of this plant were combined with and ground with "mothers milk", or morning dew, and also used to relieve eye pain. Gum which extruded from the bark was eaten as candy or even as a dye in pottery repair.

    Leaves of the mesquite were used to cure head lice and for hair restoration(*77). Also used to eradicate ringworm, dysentery, and as a relief for fevers, chest pain, (heart attacks?).

    MUSHROOMS. Referred to by the Mexica as "the flesh of the gods". Both wild and domestic production. Certain varieties were used as a mind altering drug and for medicinal purposes. See also PEYOTL and NANACATL listings.

    NANACATL or (TEONANACATL) Amanita muscaria - narcotic meaning "The Flesh of the Gods" or possibly "sacred fungus"(*78). Mushroom that is bitter in taste and gives visions to the eaters. Mixed with "obsidian wine" this drug may have been given to sacrificial victims(*79). Warriors and merchants would take this

    74 Wolfgang von Haggen, p. 111. He further notes that someone suffering from this affliction would abstain from sex during the treatment and wear a red crystal and the eye of a fox.

    75 Vogel p. 165.

    76 Alcaron p. 250. Pesman p. 49 lists this plant as Prosopis chilensis (juliflora) and vars.

    77 Hair loss might also be treated with deer or dog urine, Wolfgang von Hagen, p. 111.

    78 Soustelle, p. 155. This author further related properties of this mushroom as inducing lechery and creating visions.

    79 Clendinnen p. 93. Duran, translators notes, p. 178.

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    drug and induce visions in the hope of looking into their future destiny. Also known as "The Divine Mushroom", See also TLAPATL listing.

    NIXTAMALAXOCHITL - Used medicinally as a counter-spasmodic.

    NOPAL - Opuntia humifusa, (Cactaceae). Also known as prickly pear cactus, and the Indian fig. Depicted on the national flag of Mexico, upon which an Eagle is perched holding a snake. In Mexico the plant is known as "nopal", and the fruit as "tuna". Emollient properties are associated with the fruit produced from this plant and may have a diuretic effect when eaten. Many other properties have been associated with the Nopal including help with joint pain, nausea, and mental diseases. Leaves of this cactus were ground and mixed with water and given to women for help in childbirth. The plant grows prominently in the Valley of Mexico and plays a central part in Aztec mythology.

    OBSIDIAN - Volcanic rock. When crushed and finely powdered, this stone was placed onto wounds or sores to aid in healing(*80).

    OCPATLI. Herb. Roots of this herb were added to pulque in the fermentation process to add force to the drink(*81).

    OCTLI - (PULQUE). May be likened to beer. An intoxicant. A foul tasting brew made from various members of the Agave plant(*82) and fermented with the drug ocpatli. Pulque was often

    80 Other stones used in the healing process are mentioned by Soustelle, pp. 196-197. Among them are "eztetl", or blood stones, which have the power to stop nose bleeding, and "quiauhteocuitlatl", meaning gold of rain, given to those who are afraid of thunder, or suffering from fever. Soustelle relates that the latter stone can be found in the Jalapa, Itztepec and Tlatlauhquitepec areas.

    81 Gentry, p. 10. Very little is known about this drug. I speculate that this drug could be a derivative of OLOLIUHQUI, if not the drug itself.

    82 Gentry, p. 13, lists several of the members of the Agave family that were commonly used to produce pulque Agave salmiana, a smaller leafed plant grown near Puebla, Tlaxcala and on the plains of Apam. Agave mapisaga, a large leafed giant plant often grown along with Agave salmiana in the Michoacan, Morelos, Puebla, Michoacan and Zacatecas regions. Agave atrovirens, grown in the cool mountain regions of the Sierra Madre Oriental, Oaxaca, and possibly Puebla and Vera Cruz regions. Agave ferox, grown in Puebla and the Oaxaca areas. Agave hookeri, cultivated in the highlands of Michoacan. Agave americana, a plant well suited to the arid regions near Nuevo Leon, and Durango as well as cultivated near Michoacan and Oaxaca. Gentry further lists a chemical breakdown of pulque listing a product that is high in iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and ash

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    flavored with barks, roots and herbs. Although there were strict social conditions among the Aztec for the consumption of pulque, these restraints were lifted when used medically. Likely any small ailment was a good excuse to take this medicine. Pulque held the distinction of actually being good for the body as it was rich in amino acids, minerals, and vitamins.

    Unlike the production of mescal and tequila, where the leaves were cut and processed, pulque was collected from the basin of the plant on a daily basis as it formed from the plant's own sap(*83). See also MAGUEY and OCPATLI listings.

    OLOLIUHQUI, Rivea corymbosa - meaning " A Thing That Has Become Round Like A Ball". Spelling may have been "ololiuqui". Vine that produces fruit known as Rivea corymbosa. Seeds were used medically to produce a narcotic intoxicant or as a vision inducer. Used in an enema and for fever. Cure for syphilis, constipation, pain, tumors, eye pain, and flatulence. Mixed with a hard resin it helps with the cure and mending of broken bones; and can be used to stimulate an appetite. Ground root is mixed with water or other bases and used as a cure for stomach ache or nausea and as a laxative. The seeds of this plant can cause hallucinations(*84).

    Also used as a drug to induce a sort of divinity or could be consulted as a sort of oracle. Other spelling may be Ololiuqui "morning glory(*85)". Ololiuhqui was also referred to as Tlamacazqui Cecec, meaning "cold priest"? Could have been used as a collective word to represent all medicines that reduced fever or fever related ailments. The word Ololiuhquii derives from the noun ce-ce-o, loosely meaning "one that has become cold, or to become cold".

    83 The raw sap of the Agave plant was called "aguamiel" and considered a beverage itself. This sap was processed, or fermented, into pulque.

    84 Irene Nicholson, p. 68, references this drug to contain lysergiic acid properties, a fundamental compound used to produce a more modern drug known as (LSD).

    85 The MORNING GLORY is known to contain a substance close to LSD and contains the drug PSILOCYBIN, which is related to LYSERGIC ACID DIETHYLAMIDE and to SEROTONIN, a hormone in our brain chemistry.

    ***  I received the following in reference to footnote #85
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: David Isaak
    Subject: Aztec medicine

    Just a note--I happened to be browsing the section on Aztec medicine and noted that, in footnote 85, morning glories (Rivea corymbosa and Ipomoea violacaea) were listed as containing LSD-like compounds, which is true enough. Unfortunately this same note went on to state that they contained psilocybin compounds, which insofar as I am aware is false. The chemistry of these plants has been extensively studied by no one less than Albert Hofmann (discoverer of LSD), and although he found many LSD-related compounds (lysergic acid amides, ergine, ergoclavine, and several others), there is no report of psilocybin compounds. In fact, as far as I know, psilocybin and psilocin have never been found outside the fungi; they are the active principle in the Aztec sacred mushrooms, but I don't believe that they have ever been reported in so-called "higher plants." If they did occur outside the fungi, it would be news that would cause no small degree of astonishment in the field of phytochemistry...

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    The seed of this plant, a type of morning-glory, is stored within the plant flowers which grow approximately one inch long. The fruit of the plant is useless but does contain a single seed. Mixed with other drugs and pastes, a potion was created and painted onto priests bodies. Also served in bowls as a type of "divine food" for the gods. There are reports of forms of this mixture being used today as part of pagan rituals.

    PETUM - A herb. Drug with analgesic powers when used as an ointment for the skin. According to Nicholson(*86), this drug, when used with a hallucinogen and by a man unable to distinguish between power and cruelty, could and was mishandled to evil purposes. Priests who rubbed this ointment over their bodies lost all fear and became cruel(*87). This drug was also referred to as "the divine remedy" and the people may have had to go to a priest to obtain it.

    PEYOTL - (peyote). Also known as "mescal button". Meaning in Nahuatl "a thing that glitters?, glows?". Formally Laphophora williamsii. Irene Nicholson(*88) refers to this drug, or commonly thought of as a mushroom, as a "small tuberous cactus". Also known as "hikuri", to the Huichol tribes north of Tenochtitlan(*89). Bluish green plant that is almost flat on top. Thick root up to ten centimeters in length, with pink to white flowers. A cactus, the fruit, or "button" as it is sometimes called can be consumed as a narcotic, with strong hallucinogenic properties. Classified as a "living rock" as it blends in with the desert surrounding with a wrinkled and leathery appearance.

    86 Mexican and Central American Mythology, p.69.

    87 Possibly used before sacrifices to dull them from the horror and cruelty they were about to inflict on their victims. This is an interesting point as if we are to believe Clendinnen and her writings on the use of drugs for victim management, AZTECS, pp. 87-110, it is also possible that the priests conducting the ceremonies may too have been "managed" with drugs.

    88 P. 68.

    89 The Huichol, located roughly in the current San Luis Potosi region and other scattered Sonoran areas, were fond of making yearly pilgrimages. They went under the leadership of a local "mara' akame", or shaman, to collect the peyote. In some cases the journey would be over three hundred miles and made after the harvest festivals in October and the February rain ceremonies. The Huichol considered the "fruit" to be the bearer of knowledge of the immortal being. Modern pilgrimages in the old tradition continue and are outlined in Campbell's book, pp. 294-298, as well as in Nicholson's Mexican and Central American Mythology, pp. 68-71.

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    Divinity was attributed by the Mexica to one using this drug. Medically used in an enema for fever. Thought to have grown only in the land of the dead, "Mictlan"(*90). The codex Magliabechiano, recto 90, shows an Indian eating peyotl under the watchful eye of Mictlantecutli, lord of Mictlan, presumably showing the Indian the way of the drug.

    Much has been written on this hallucinogenic drug and is in wide use today among several middle and north American Indian tribes. The powerful drug "mescaline" is found in this cactus. The molecule of mescaline is similar to that of a substance that can be found in the blood of schizophrenics(*91). The drug is used medicinally and in cultural/religious ceremonies(*92).

    PICIYETL (piciete) - meaning "Tiny Tobacco". Nicotiana rustica. a herbaceous species of tobacco used and treated as a deity and to conjure a deity. Also used by medical practitioners in the practice of fortune telling or as a talisman to stave off viscous animals and certain insects. Medically used as an aid in childbirth, toothache, pain, swollen head, rashes, and fatigue. Placed in the navel for swollen stomachs and used for the cure of diarrhea. Piciyetl was thought to be of use in the treatment of asthma, induce sleep, cure pain and disease of the uterus, headaches, spleen, toothaches, syphilis, and snakebites. If you were a warrior and wounded in battle with an arrow, this drug was thought to help cure you. Piciyetl could also be used to induce hallucinations. Often mixed with other drugs. Mexica priests would carry a supply of Piciyetl with them in a little bag. See also IYETL, IYAUHTLI, PEYOTL, and CAHALALAHTLI listings.

    QUANENEPILLI - meaning "Passion Flower". Used for the curing of a man's chest pain. A tree or shrub as this is

    90 For more information on the association of this drug with the mythical land of the dead of the Mexica, consult Sahagun, Book of Earthly Things, of the Florentine Codex.

    91 Kruger, p. 162. Kruger further relates that the peyote roots contain an antibiotic for cuts and bruises.

    92 In the notes, p. 339, of her book, Clendinnen makes reference to a work by Diego Munoz Camargo, Historia de Tlaxcalla, pp. 134- 5, in which the author claims the use of most psychotropic drugs, like peyote, was only available to the lords of the society and that the commoners drank pulque.

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    referred to as being a type of bark and mixed with maize porridge(*93).

    QUAUHTLATLATZII - "Explosive tree". Hura polyandra. Also known as Habilla de San Ignacio and as Sandboxtree. This tree produces an irritating sap and care must be taken when handling the raw wood. The flowers explode with force to scatter seeds. The seeds are poison and were used to stun fish. This tree has many native names including, CHICOMUSELO, JABILLA, and HABA.

    QUETZAL YLIN - A tree. The bark of this tree when mixed with select flowers was used to cure fatigue;.(*94)

    SALT - Salt was used by the Mexica for the treatment of sore or swollen throats and as a cure for general eye; ailments. Salt was also added to the drugs copalli and tequizquitl for eye relief. Mixed with the drugs tzopilotl and tomatl for throat pain. See also TEQUIXQUITL listing.

    TENEXIYETL - meaning "Lime Tobacco". To make the drug tenexiyetl one would grind the drug piciyetl and mix it with lime with ten parts piciyetl and one part lime as the recipe, according to Sahagun. Tenexiyetl could also be used as a sort of Talisman and further used as an aid in fortune telling. Medically used as ear drops or as a relief for jaw and mouth pain and toothaches. Drug was also thought to be used in conjunction with salt for the treatment of cysts.


    TEQUIXQUITL - potassium nitrate. Added to copalli and salt for the treatment of general eye diseases. Added to tzopilotl and salt for swollen throat pain. See also SALT, TZOPILOTL and TOMATL listings.

    TEXIHXIHUITL - meaning "Rock Grass" or Turquoise grass? Helitropium parviflorum. Shrub or tree with flowers and dry fruit. Substituted in place of mesquite sap for eye disease. Also used to cure ulcers, toothaches, tumors, fevers, mange, and dysentery.

    TLACHIHCHINOA - meaning "Over-The-Fire-Curer". Tournefortia capitata? Small shrub with white flowers and small fruit. Used

    93 Soustelle, p. 196. If one is to dissect the lament the practitioner says during the treatment with this drug, it is not hard to imagine the flu and a very congested chest.

    94 Notes, p. 113, Wolfgang von Hagen. The author further relates that in addition to general fatigue a strengthening of the heart was accomplished.

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    to cure eye disease with other herbs. The leaves of this medicinal plant were often used by the Mexica in the relief of fever. Often applied directly to festering sores. Reduced swelling and used for treatment of pain associated with toothaches.

    TLACOPAHTLI - meaning "Stick Medicine". Aristolochia mexicana, (Aristolochiaceae). Used in the treatment of urine diseases. The root of this plant was thought to be a cure for deafness and spleen injuries. Used as an astringent and as a cure for worms. Additional use of this medicine was use as a pain reliever, possibly for snakebites. Properties of the plant are diaphoretic, as a stimulant and as a tonic. In large doses the powdered root of this plant can induce vomiting. Additional properties of this drug was to stimulate the appetite. Also referred to as "yellow root" and is a cousin to the "Texas snakeroot", A. reticulata.
    TLACOSUCHIL - Bouvardia ternifolia. Known as Trompetilla and as Little Trumpet. A bright red flower with from three to five leaves. Used for the treatment of dysentery; and hydrophobia;(*95).

    TLANECHICOLPAHTLI - meaning "mixture medicine"? "To collect things"? Used with four other herbs, huei nacaztli, xochimecatl, coanenepilli, and xiuhcohcolin, for the control and management of fever.

    TLAPATL - "jimsonweed". Datura stramonium(*96), used for relieving hunger. A tobacco plant and member of the nightshade family(*97). Also known as Jamestown weed, apple of Peru,

    95 Pesman p. 119.

    96 Clendinnen, p. 93, makes reference to Datura stramonium being mixed with wine in China as an anesthetic for minor surgery. She further references it's use in India by dancing girls, "up to no good", and used to drug a man causing uncontrolled dancing and destruction of will. This "obsidian wine" may have been used to control victims scheduled for sacrifice and to induce proper victim behavior in front of the altars they were about to be sacrificed upon. Murphey, in her book, describes this drug as Datura metaloids, also referred to as "jimson weed" and used by North American Indian tribes as a tea in which the drinker would render himself unconscious and have visions, p. 50. There is suggestion that jimson weed may also be smoked and have some relief of asthma symptoms, Bridgwater, p. 1011. Coon, p. 99 further references uses of this drug for asthma and spasmodic coughing in smoke form.

    97 There are over 139 species of this dreaded family that have been recorded in Mexico alone. World wide there may be as many as 1200 that vary from herbs and shrubs to trees. Pesman, pp. 150-151.

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    stinkweed, devil's weed, and the devil's trumpet. Also used as a psychotropic drug. See also NANACATL listing. Seeds of this plant were commonly mixed with wine(*98). The leaves of the plant were collected when the plant was in flower and then dried. As an anodyne and this drug is often substituted for belladonna, (Atropa belladonna). Leaves of the plant are often applied directly to boils. Further reference to this plant being used for hay fever and the cure of hemorrhoids(*99). Additional used were for pain in the ears, gout, and as an ointment for cracks in the feet. This drug could also be smoked.

    Datura contains several solanaceous alkaloids of the tropane configuration, including atropine and hyoscyamine. Four to five grams of the dried leaf of this plant is enough to kill.

    The drug reacts in three phases. After first ingesting the drug intense thirst, blurred vision and flushed skin is seen. Second as symptoms become worse, the subject becomes delirious and performs insensible acts. The last stage, or lethal dose, brings on violent behavior, convulsions, and coma. Non lethal effects can last as long as 48 hours with some mydriatic effects lasting for up to two weeks(*100).

    TLATLANQUAYE - A root. Used for the cure of boils. The leaves were applied to the affected area and the area then washed with urine.

    TLAQUATL - meaning "A Thing That Is Eaten"? "An Opossum"? Didelphis marsupialis. The opossum is a small nocturnal marsupial. The tail is ground into a powder for use during childbirth and to help the urinary track with obstructions. Also used to expel things from the body. A treatment to gather phlegm and constipation. This drug further had laxative properties. Taking the drug would expel the baby forcefully from the birth canal. The life of the mother was considered more valuable in Mexica society than the child. A midwife would insert an obsidian knife into the vaginal passage and dismember the baby should birth complications develop(*101).

    98 These is heavy speculation that this drug gave the "Obsidian Wine", used to control prisoners, it's narcotic property.

    99 Moore, p. 295.

    100 Kingsburg, pp. 279-281.

    101 A woman dead from childbirth roused heavy collective anxiety among the Aztecs. This was an occurrence to be avoided. The body of a woman dead from childbirth would be treated with great care as it was a dangerous force. A hole would be made in the back wall of the home and the body removed through the home and not the usual household doorways. Should a mother die during childbirth she was going to the goddess Toci. Women pregnant in Mexica society were thought to be possessed by the Earth Mother, called most frequently under her name of Quilaztli, "She Who Makes Legumes Grow". Other names of the Earth Mother invoked by the midwives were Coaciuatl, (serpent woman), Quauhciuatl, (eagle woman), Yoaciuatl, (warrior woman), and Tzitziminciuatl, (devil woman).

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    TOBACCO - See PICIYETL and IYETL medicinal listings.

    TOLUAH - Plant, or drug, mentioned in the Badianus Herbal, which was written in 1552 by an Indian Doctor named Martin de la Cruz. Plant probably related to the datura family with hallucinogenic properties. See also TLAPATL listing.

    TOMATE - meaning "A Plump Thing". Alacaron's book reminds the reader not to confuse this plant with the common tomato which was called "jitomate". Added with tequixquitl, salt and txopilotl to cure sore throats.

    TONATIUHYXIUH. A plant. Mixed with other plants and the blood of a wolf, and the blood and excrement of other animals. This drug was used in the cure of those who were "fear- burdened"(*102).

    TZOPILOTL - meaning "A Thing Hung Over Filth"? A tree with poisonous seeds. This tree family includes the mahogany tree. Mixed with tomatl and tequixquitl or salt, for sore throats. Also used in an enema for stomach; pain and to relieve general body fatigue. Thought by the Mexica medical practitioners to be helpful to dissolve tumors; and stomach ulcers.

    XIUHAMOLLI - Mexica plant that was used with animal urine to cure baldness.

    XIUHCOHCOLIN - "A Turquoise Convoluted Thing"? A medicinally used herb. This drug was mixed with other herbs in water for fever. This root caused vomiting. The juice of this herb cures ulcers of the mouth and eyes.

    XOCHIMECATL - meaning "Flower Rope". A herb. Mixed with other medicinal herbs for the treatment of fevers.

    102 Wolfgang von Hagen, p. 113. He further makes reference to this potion being mixed with "sea-foam", indicating a coastal beginning.

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    XOCHIOCOTZOCUAHUITL - meaning "Tree of Aromatic Rosin". Liquidambar styraciflua. Also called Sweet Gum and Liquidambar. Tree that can rise to over 140 feet. A balsam liquid amber forms in cavities of the bark if the bark is injured. The balsam is used in soap making and for incense. Used also for toothaches.

    XOLOITZCUINTLI - The small bred dogs mainly used for meat, however, the fat from these dogs was also used for the healing of wounds.

    YAUHTLI - See IYAUHTLI listing. Tagetes lucida. Drunk for chills. Also thought to cure gout and the leaves were used in a massage for paralysis or as an anesthesia.

    YIAMOLLI - Phytolacca octandra. The berries of this plant were used as a cure for dandruff. Additionally the Aztec would use brewed sage or burdock leaves in the cure of dandruff(*103).

    YOLOXOCHITL - "Nobel Lord Flower". Talauma mexicana. Also known as the Heartflower Tree. Early Aztec nobility would exclusively use this tree and considered a solitary blossom enough to perfume an entire house. Tree reaches up to ninety feet in height. The bark is thought to be good for the heart. A close relative to the Magnolia family of trees.

    NOTE ..I have recently found the following web site on the modern use of several of the drugs listed in this section and thought it would be of benefit to place here. Notes on the Present Status of Ololiuhqui and the Other Hallucinogens of Mexico

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    The following listings are known herbal medicinal plants that are found in Mexico or had a high probably of being traded for and brought to Tenochtitlan either through tribute or trade(*104). Use of some of these plants is speculative,

    103 Vogel p. 128, 220.

    104 Vogel p. 81, makes reference to L.S.M. Curtin's book HEALING HERBS OF THE UPPER RIO GRANDE, and notes that evidence of trade of medicine knowledge and supplies existed with present day US Southwest Indian tribes and the Aztec.

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    however, during the time of the Aztecs most were in use by north American and South/Central American Indian tribes and the probability of use in the central Mexican Valley is high.

    Capsicum frutescens, (Capsicum or Cayenne pepper). General use drug of the Mayas and known in Central and South America. During the second voyage of Columbus this drug was mentioned by the ship's doctor. Also used as a food condiment.

    Carica papaya, (Papain). The dried fruit, sap and shoots were possibly used by the Maya as a dietary aid.

    Ceanothus americanus (Rhamnaceae). Also known as wild snowball, New Jersey tea, and red root. A low lying shrub that grows to a height of about three feet with white flowers. The name derives from it's use as a substitute for the taxed tea from England during the American Revolution. It's medical uses were as an astringent, expectorant, and as a sedative. Sores of the mouth as well as various venereal diseases were also treated with an astringent produced from the bark.

    Chaetoptelea mexicana, The Ramrod Tree. May reach heights of 285 feet. The rough bark of this tree is used as an astringent and for coughs.

    Chenopodium ambrosioides, (var. anthelminticum). Also known as wormseed, Mexican-tea, Spanish tea, ambrosia, stick weed, epazote. Possible origin from Chili and transported over the centuries to Mexico. This plant grows to approximately three feet and produces small green flowers. The plant is poisonous and is noted for producing tiny black seeds that are used as an anthelmintic. Other uses involve boiling the plant to extract an oil known as "chenopodium oil". Aztec uses for this plant may have been for severe menstruation, nervous afflictions, and as a poison that affected the brain and spinal cord.

    Coccus cacti, (Cochineal or Coccineal). Red juice of the insect. Use as a coloring dye but also used in folk medicine.

    Cordia dodecandra, (Cupate or Starbell). A tall tree that produces edible fruit. Leaves are often used as sandpaper. The bark produces a type of syrup while both it's leaves and fruit is even today considered as a cough medicine.

    Croton eluteria, (Cascarilla bark). Primary use as a tonic and for scenting tobacco. Many species of Croton were used in a variety of ways by the Maya, including for wounds and as a diaphoretic.

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    Dorstenia contrayerva, (Contrayerva). The root of this plant was used by both the Aztecs and Maya. Possible uses as a relief for fever or as use as a stimulant.(*105)

    Exogonium purga, (Jalap or Jalap root). Introduced into Europe from Mexico about 1565 and classified as a hydragogue cathartic and purgative.(*106) Used as a resin or powder.

    Hematoxylon campechianum, (Logwood). Used by the Aztecs as both a dye and as an astringent.

    Lucuma salicifolia, (Yellow Sapote). Known locally as Coztizapotl and Zapote Borracho. Fruit is known for inducing almost drunkenness symptoms. Seeds are reported to be poisonous and to contain narcotic properties.(*107)

    Maranta arundinacea, (Arrowroot). Used as a food by both the Taino and Arawak tribes with further uses as antidote for arrow poison. Mayan use of Arrowroot was ground and drunk for the relief of pus in urine.

    Mexican Scammony, (Ipomea, or Orizaba Jalap). The dried root of I. orizabensis. Classified in the Badianus Manuscript as a hydragogue cathartic.

    Myrica cerifera, (Myricaceae). Also known as bayberry, myrtle, and candle berry. The root bark of this plant is stripped into tiny strips then dried and formed into a powder. The powder is mixed with water, drunk, and is used as an astringent. Further uses are for diarrhea and dysentery. As snuff it is a treatment for nasal congestion. Bayberry is also useful for bleeding gums. This plant grows extensively in the coastal areas of Veracruz and Yucatan.

    Myroxylon (Toluifera) balsamum var. pereirae. Also known as the Balm Tree or Balsamo. A tall tree, ninety feet high, from which a balm was produced. The balm is produced from crushed bark in the spring. The Aztec collected jars of this balm as tribute(*108).

    105 Vogel p. 409.

    106 Vogel, p. 411.

    107 Pesman, p. 242.

    108 Pesman p. 200-201. Pesman further relates that the Spanish introduced this balm to Europe and as early as 1562 Pope Pius IV authorized his clergy to use this balm in religious rites calling the balm "Balsamo Negro" and declaring the trees from which it came as protected. This balm is still being produced in El Salvador.

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    Oenothera biennis, (Onagraceae). Also known as cureall, and tree trimrose. A tall plant with yellow flowers. In medicine the whole plant is harvested and dried and mixed with water for use as an astringent and as a sedative.

    Passiflora incarnata, (Passion Flower, or Apricot Vine). Emetic and purgative uses. Possibly the Passiflora coerulea variety.

    Quassia amara, (Quassia or Bitterwood). Possible use by the Maya as an enema or for diarrhea. References to it's use for the cure of irritation from pinworms, dyspepsia, and with insecticidal properties(*109).

    Ruta graveolens, (Rutaceae) also called rue, garden rue, and herb of grace. Also called Eurasian. Aromatic tree or shrub that grows to a height of about three feet. Mixed with coanenepilli and imbibed for fever ailments. Drunk in tea form, it has a mild sedative effect. This drug was not native to Mexico and must have been traded for and brought to Tenochtitlan through the extensive Mexica merchant trading system(*110). Referred to as Rutaceae(*111). Thought to contain capillary antihemorrhagics as well as Dietvitamins P factors. Also thought to have been used to promote menstruation or fetal expulsion(*112). childbirth

    Sanguinaria herba, (Blood herb). Mixed with urine, milk, and salt it was poured into the nose to stop nose bleeds.

    Sechium edule, (Vegetable Pear). Also known locally as Chayote, Chocho, Zuzu, Pipinella, and Mirliton. The yellow roots are cooked much like potatoes. A very fast growing vine whose leaves are thought to lower blood pressure and are today used to treat arteriosclerosis.

    109 Vogel, p. 413.

    110 Coon, p. 178 states that this drug was actually brought to the New World from Europe, but this is doubtful. Emboden, p. 79, relates that in Europe, a Rue branch was dipped into holy water and then sprinkled upon believers. Europeans thought that this plant would "drive out demons" and act as a protector. The name is derived from the Greek stem "reuo", meaning "to set free", (from disease?). Ancient Greeks used an anointing oil of rue juice and placed it upon the head of a person for protection.

    111 Alcaron p. 251.

    112 Vogel p. 244.

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    Turnera diffusa, (Damiana or Turnera). Widely used drug throughout Central America and Mexico. Leaf of this shrub was used as a stimulant, laxative, or as an aphrodisiac.

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    The Aztec worshiped hundreds of deities that presided over the smallest activity that concerned their daily lives. Several of their deities were connected with the field of medicine and their diet. Chief among the deities listed here, as it relates to the subject of medicine, would be Quetzalcoatl  "God of Wind", for it was he in his benevolence who gave to the Mexica the science of medicine and, as told in legend, life itself. Other deities, although perhaps not as prominent, certainly held their place in the actual practice of medicine. These deities were worshiped for their spiritual powers, their association with the drugs used for treatment, and their ability to stave off illnesses through personal penance and devotion.

    Soon after the conquest of the Aztecs, the Spanish destroyed thousands of codices, or manuscripts, that surely would have led to our knowledge of deity/medicine connections. What little information remains at least gives us an insight to the connections the Mexica held between medicine and religion. A conclusion could be drawn and argued that religion played an even more important part in the healing process than we can even suppose. The Mexica believed that the causes of disease were placed into the body by divine intervention, in this sense their medicine was no further advanced than their European counterparts, and in many ways far superior.  For more detailed information on the Deities listed here, consult my work AZTEC RELIGION.

    CENTEOTL - "The Corn God"(*113)
    Spelling may also be "Cinteotl", meaning Sacred Maize-Ear. Also known as Civeles and Our Grandmother. Was also the goddess of medicine and herbs. Patron of doctors, midwives(*114) and

    113 The term "teotl" appears frequently in the Spanish pronunciation of the deities. As recorded by the Spanish the term loosely means "god" or "saint". The root of the word is "teo" with the suffix "tl". Townsend, pp. 115-116, relates that the term "teotl" was primarily used to refer to nature-deities, human impersonators of deities, and associated with some of their masks and some ceremonial objects. He further expands to relate "teotl" may refer to anything "mysterious, powerful, or beyond ordinary experience".

    114 After birth the Mexica midwife might relate the following "You have come to reach the earth, the place of torment, the place of pain, where it is hot, where it is cold, where the wind blows. It is a place of one's affliction, of one's weariness, a place of thirst, a place of hunger, a place where one freezes, a place of weeping" "It is not true that it is a good place; it is a place of weeping, a place of sorrow, a place where one suffers". Brundage p. 178, relates this from his translation of Sahagun. This ceremony certainly states the Mexica view of life a little on the dark side.

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    soothsayers. Also called Temazcalteci, "Grandmother of the Baths"(*115). In her honor as Centeotl a woman was selected, well fed, and sacrificed with her skin flayed and worn during a feast/festival.

    CHALCHIHUITLICUE - "Goddess of the Sea and Lakes"

    "Goddess of Springs and Rivers". "Jade Skirt" "She Who Was the Water". Other spelling may be Chalchiuhcueyeh, meaning "Jade Skirt Owner". Also known at the goddess Matalcueyeh, meaning "Blue Skirt Owner"(*116). Also known as Xoxouhqui Ihuipil, or Xoxouhqui Icue, Meaning "Her Skirt is Green". During birthing ceremonies may have been worshiped as Chalchiuh Tlatonac.

    Chalchihuitlicue was worshiped during the birthing process and with the arrival of a newborn a special ceremony by the midwife would be held. The ceremony involved the midwife shouting war cries in honor of the battle the mother fought giving birth, and for the woman having become a warrior and capturing a baby. The cord would be ceremoniously cut(*117) while the midwife would tell the baby of life and what was expected of it. During the first ritual bath the midwife would describe the purifying water god and tell the baby about Chalchihuitlicue(*118).

    115 Boone p. 214, related that these bath houses were called "temazcalli". Boone's translation further related that a sick person would often be brought to a bath house. A person who acted as an advocate for the sick would stand in the doorway. Offerings consisting of copal were made to an idol of the deity Tezcatliopoca in the hopes of curing the afflicted person. Plate 77 of the Codex Magliabechiano depicts a scene at the bath house.

    116 Alacaron, notes p. 230.

    117 A cord from a male child would be kept and taken to a warrior to be buried in a battlefield, a female chord would be buried next to the family hearth. Great speeches were made during the cord cutting ceremony and speaking of such things as the virtues of hard work, duty, and the roles of men and women.

    118 Following the first bath, the baby was ready for what me may think of as a formal "baptism". The midwife would place a bowl of water on a reed mat and begin placing out items appropriate for the sex of the baby. The male would have a small bow and arrow placed on a shield made from a tortilla. The profession of the family may dictate appropriate items, such as metal working tools in the case of metal workers. A girl might have spinning instruments or female clothing items. The midwife would then walk counterclockwise around the items and talk to the child while the baby was again bathed and massaged, and presented four different times to the sky and water. Older children would then run through the streets proclaiming the name of the baby. The Codex Mendoza records this ceremony.

    PAGE 41

    IXQUITECATL - "God of Sorcerers"

    Name meaning "Popcorn Side", in the prepositional sense of "beside the popcorn". Name further has meaning as "Person from Izquitlan"(*119). Worshipped by members of the healing arts class as worshiped by sorcerers were often brought in after more herb traditional healing methods failed.

    IXTILTON - "Little Black One"

    Ixtilton was a lieutenant of the patron god of the Mexica, Huitzilopochtli. Ixtilton was credited with going to little children in their beds and bringing them darkness and a peaceful night sleep(*120). Also known and worshiped as the "God of Medicine". Further associated with rain and agricultural fertility in a deity status. Spelling may be Ixtlilton. As a child fell sick it was taken to the temple of this deity where a jar of black water called "ixtlilauh" was opened. The child would drink of this liquid for a cure.

    IZTACCIHUATL - "White Woman"

    Mexica affected by blindness would worship this goddess. On the feast day to this goddess a slave was painted green, to represent the trees of the mountain for which she was named, and given a white painted head to represent the snow capped peak of the mountain. Children were carried to the mountain and sacrificed in her honor as well as others who were sacrificed in Tenochtitlan.

    MAYAHUEL - "Goddess of the Maguay(*121) Plant" "The Lady on the Tortoise Throne" "Goddess of Good Fortune"

    119 Alarcon's book notes p. 229, contains further information on this little known or referenced deity.

    120 A beautiful and graceful solid black obsidian smooth mask thought to represent this interesting deity is displayed in Burland's book p. 59.

    121 The leaves of the Maguay plant were referred to as breasts by the Mexica.

    PAGE 42

    Said to have had (400) breasts to nurture (400) children. Represented surrounded by the maguay plant. Associated with female representation of pulque.

    There were over 400 different deities associated with drinking and drunkenness. Collectively they were referred to as Totochtli, meaning rabbits. A legend concerning the discovery of pulque has Mayahuel as a farmer's wife who one day tries to kill a mouse in a field. During her chase of the mouse she noticed sap emerging from a maguay plant the mouse had been nibbling on. Mayahuel collected the sap and took it home to her husband where the two drank it and developed a good feeling. Mayahuel then gave the sap to the gods who rewarded her with deity status and her husband also became the deity Xochipilli, "Lord of Flowers".


    Associated with giving the Mexica the knowledge of medicine, science, agriculture and all good things. Blood letting was taught by this god. Considered a great benevolent god. Quetzalcoatl is credited with creating the human life that was present on the earth by letting his blood over human bones that he and his twin brother, Xolotl(*122), retrieved from Mictlan, the land of the dead.

    Hope may have been instilled in the sick through worship to this most important deity in Mexica culture. He discovered corn, and all good aspects of civilization. The Mexica thought of Quetzalcoatl is a perfect representation of saintliness and revered him and his image.

    A typical use of this deity as told in Boone's translation of the Codex Magliabechiano, pl. 77, related that a medicine man(*123) or woman would gather twenty corn kernels and throw them on to a white cloak which was presided over by an image of Quetzalcoatl. If the kernels fell into a circular pattern the sick person was thought to be of no hope and would die. If the kernels separated on throwing into other patterns the victim or person who had the disease would eventually recover(*124).

    QUILAZLI - "She Who Makes Legumes Grow"

    Patron of Midwives. Also known to the Mexica and worshiped as Coaciuatl (Cihuacoatl), Serpent Woman, Quauhciuatl, Eagle Woman, Yoaciuatl, Warrior Woman, and Tzitziminciuatl, devil woman.

    122 Some legends have Xolotl, twin brother to Quetzalcoatl, actually shedding the blood over the bones of man and giving life to the Mexica.

    123 Probably a "Ticitl".

    124 Boone, p. 214.

    PAGE 43

    TLALOC - " The God of Rain"

     Tlaloc is associated with the infliction of diseases such as ulcers, leprosy, foot trouble, and dropsy.

    TEZCATLIOPOCA - "The Mirror That Smokes"

    "He Who Slaves We Are", "The Mocker", " The Enemy of Both Sides". All men were slaves of Tezcatliopoca and children were thought to be given destinies and pre-ordained illness by this deity. Praying to the god was always an option during severe illness(*125). Although the Mexica knew the process to make a baby, they believed that the conceived child was placed into the womb by Tezcatliopoca. This deity was thought to afflict illness for no other reason than his amusement. A sudden illness would often be thought to have been inflicted by Tezcatliopoca, often for reasons known only to the gods.

    TLAZOLTEOTL - " The Eater of Filth"

    Caused an evil spell, called "tlazolmiquiztli", meaning death by lust to those engaged in carnal sin or any type of forbidden love. A steam bath along with the rite of purification and calling upon this goddess for forgiveness may end the suffering, however, relatives of the couple may continue to suffer from melancholy.

    TZAPATLAN TENEN - "The Goddess of Turpentine"

    Her substance was said to produce turpentine. Name may mean "Someone's mother in Tzapotlan". Thought by the Mexica to have been the goddess that discovered the medicinal use of Ohxitlm, meaning turpentine.

    XIPE TOTEC - "Our Lord of the Flayed One"

    Thought to give eye diseases.

    XOCHIPILLI - "God of Youth, Music and Flowers"

    Men and women engaged in forbidden love were given venereal diseases, skin diseases, or piles by this otherwise benevolent god.

    125 Considering the faith the Mexica placed into destiny it is a wonder that they practiced medicine at all.

    Return to Table of Contents

    PAGE 45


    ALCARON, Hernando Ruiz de. Trans. by J. Richard Andrews and Ross Hassig. TREATISE ON THE HEATHEN SUPERSTITIONS THAT TODAY LIVE AMONG THE INDIANS NATIVE TO THIS NEW SPAIN, 1629. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1984(*126).

    ANDERSON, Edward F. PEYOTE THE DIVINE CACTUS. Tucson University of Arizona Press, 1980.

    ANDREWS, J. Richard. INTRODUCTION TO CLASSICAL NAHUATL. Austin University of Texas Press, 1975.


    ATKINSON, D.T. MAGIC MYTH AND MEDICINE. Cleveland The World Publishing Co., 1956.

    BLUNT, Wilfrid. THE ART OF BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION. New York Charles Schribner Sons, 1951.

    BOONE, Elizabeth Hill. THE CODEX MAGLIABECHIANO AND THE LOST PROTOTYPE OF THE MAGLIABECHIANO GROUP. Berkeley University of California Press, 1983(*127).

    BORAH, Woodrow, and Sherburne F. Cook. THE ABORIGINAL POPULATION OF CENTRAL MEXICO ON THE EVE OF THE SPANISH CONQUEST. Berkeley University of California, 1963.

    BRADEN, Charles S. RELIGIOUS ASPECTS OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO. Durham Duke University Press, 1930.

    BRANDT, Linda. Editor. CACTUS AND SUCCULENTS. Menlo Park, California Sunset Publishing Co., 1991.

    BRAY, Warwick. EVERYDAY LIFE OF THE AZTECS. New York Dorset Press, 1987.

    BRIDGWATER, William, & Sherwood, Elizabeth J., editors, THE COLUMBIA ENCYCLOPEDIA. Morningside Heights, New York Columbia University Press, 1956.

    126 Alcaron's book, or rather the editors of the book, J. Richard Andrews and Ross Hassig, have listed an extensive bibliography consisting of many medical reports, magazines and technical manuals concerning this subject area. If this book is unavailable in your local library I suggest an inter-library loan. This is a great place to start. Sahagun's works are another source worth your research time and depict drawings of some of the plants mentioned here.

    127 This two volume set also included a reproduction of the original publication by Zelia Nuttall titled THE BOOK OF THE ANCIENT MEXICANS, which has since become generally known as the Codex Magliabechiano.

    PAGE 46

    BRUNDAGE, Burr Cartwright. THE FIFTH SUN AZTEC GODS, AZTEC WORLD. Austin University of Texas Press, 1979(*128).

    BURLAND, Cottie, and Werner Forman. THE AZTECS GODS AND FATE IN ANCIENT MEXICO. New York Galahad Books, 1975.

    BURLAND, Cottie, and Werner Forman. GODS AND FATE IN ANCIENT MEXICO. Mexico Panorama Editorial Mexico, 1980.


    CASO, Alfonso. Trans. by Lowell Dunham. THE AZTECS, PEOPLE OF THE SUN. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

    CLENDINNEN, Inga. AZTECS. New York Cambridge University Press, 1991.

    COON, Nelson. USING PLANTS FOR HEALING. Emmaus, Pa. Rodale Press, 1979.


    DAVIES, Nigel. PEOPLE OF THE SUN. London Macmillan & Co., 1973.

    DIAZ, Bernal del Castillo. Edited by Genaro Garcia. Translated with notes and introduction by A. P. Maudslay. Introduction to the American edition by Irving A. Leonard. THE DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF MEXICO 1517-1521. New York Noonday Press, 1966.

    DURAN, Diego d. Trans. by Fernando Horcasitas and Doris Heyden. BOOK OF THE GODS AND RITES AND THE ANCIENT CALENDAR. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.

    EMBODEN, William A. BIZARRE PLANTS MAGICAL, MONSTROUS, MYTHICAL. New York Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.

    EMMART, Emily W. HERB MEDICINE OF THE AZTECS. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association 26 pp.42-45, 1937.

    EMMART, Emily W. THE BADIANUS MANUSCRIPT AN AZTEC HERBAL OF 1552. Baltimore Johns Hopkins Press, 1940(*129).

    128 This author also wrote A RAIN OF DARTS, also by the University of Texas Press, which is a wonderful book about the eleven Mexica kings.

    129 THE BADIANUS HERBAL Original housed in the Vatican Library. Only known Mexica codex dealing with the study of medicine and Aztec flora. Also contains myths and legends of the power of stones and various animals. Re-discovered in 1929 in the Vatican Library by Charles Upton Clark. Also known as the De La Cruz- Badianus Manuscript of 1552.

    PAGE 47


    GARDNER, Joseph I. Editor. MYSTERIES OF THE ANCIENT AMERICAS THE NEW WORLD BEFORE COLUMBUS. Pleasantville, New York The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1986.

    GENTRY, Howard Scott. AGAVES OF CONTINENTAL NORTH AMERICA. Tucson University of Arizona Press, 1982.

    GIBSON, Charles. THE STRUCTURE OF THE AZTEC EMPIRE. Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol 10, pp. 323-394. Austin University of Texas Press, 1971.

    GILLMORE, Frances. THE KING DANCED IN THE MARKETPLACE. Tucson University of Arizona Press, 1964.

    GRUZINSKI, Serge. Trans. from French by Paul G. Bahn. THE AZTECS RISE AND FALL OF AN EMPIRE. New York Harry N. Abrams, Inc., (Discoveries Series), 1992.

    HAYS, Wilma and R. Vernon. FOODS THE INDIANS GAVE US. New York Ives Washburn, Inc., 1973.

    HENDERSON, John S. THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENT MAYA. Ithaca Cornell University Press, 1981.


    INNES, Hammond. THE CONQUISTADORS. New York Alfred A. Knopf, 1969.

    KARTTUNEN, Frances. AN ANALYTICAL DICTIONARY OF NAHUATL. Austin University of Texas Press, 1983.


    KINGSBURG, John M. POISONOUS PLANTS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA. Englewood Cliffs Prentice-Hall Inc., 1964.

    LEHNER, Ernst and Johanna. FOLKLORE AND SYMBOLISM OF FLOWERS, PLANTS, AND TREES. New York Tudor Publishing Company, 1960.

    LEOPOLD, Starker A.. WILDLIFE OF MEXICO THE GAME BIRDS AND MAMMALS. Berkeley University of California Press, 1959.

    PAGE 48


    MAKINS, F.K. HERBACEOUS GARDEN FLORA. London J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1957.

    MARTINEZ, Maximino. PLANTAS UTILES DE LA FLORA MEXICANA. Mexico Ediciones Botas, 1959.

    MARTINEX, Maximino. LAS PLANTAS MEDICINALES DE MEXICO. Mexico Ediciones Botas, 1959.

    MERCATANTE, Anthony S. ZOO OF THE GODS. New York Harper & Row, Publishers, 1974.

    MEYER, Michael C., Sherman, William L. THE COURSE OF MEXICAN HISTORY. New York Oxford University Press, 1979.

    MILES, Karen. HERB & SPICE HANDBOOK. Norway, Iowa Frontiere Cooperative Herbs, 1987.

    THE PACIFIC WEST. Santa Fe Red Crane Books, 1993.

    MONTE, Tom. WORLD MEDICINE THE EAST WEST GUIDE TO HEALING YOUR BODY. New York The Putnam Publishing Group, 1993.

    MURPHEY, Edith Van Allen. INDIAN USES OF NATIVE PLANTS. Ft. Bragg, California Mendocino County Historical Society, 1959.




    NUTTALL, Zelia. THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE ANCIENT MEXICANS CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF THEIR RITES AND SUPERSTITIONS. Introduction, Translation and Commentary by the author. Part I.- Introduction and Facsimile. Berkeley University of California Press, 1903(*130).

    ODY, Penelope. THE COMPLETE MEDICINAL HERBAL. New York Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

    130 This book was reproduced by Elizabeth Hill Boone in her work, also published by the University of California Press.

    PAGE 49

    PERRY, Frances, and Hay, Roy. A FIELD GUIDE TO TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL PLANTS. New York Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982.

    PESMAN, M. Walter. MEET FLORA MEXICANA. Globe Arizona Six Shooter Canyon, Dale S. King Pub., 1962.

    PORTILLA, Miguel Leon. Trans J. Eruory Davis. AZTEC THOUGHT AND CULTURE. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.

    PRESCOTT, William H. HISTORY OF THE CONQUEST OF MEXICO. Vols. 1 & 3. Philadelphia J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1873.

    POZO, Efren C. EMPIRICISM AND MAGIC IN AZTEC PHARMACOLOGY. Public Health Service Publication no. 1645, pp. 59-76. 1971.

    RIHA, Jan & Subik, Rudolf. Trans. by Dona Hubova. THE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CACTI AND OTHER SUCCULENTS. Secaucus, New Jersey Chartwell Books, 1993.

    RINPOCHE, Ven. Rechung, and Jampal Kunzang. Trans. TIBETAN MEDICINE. Berkeley University of California Press, 1973.

    SAHAGUN, Bernardino de Fr. Trans. by Fanny R. Bandelier from the Spanish version of Carlos Maria de Bustamante. A HISTORY OF ANCIENT MEXICO. Nashville Fisk University Press, 1932. Republished by Blaine Ethridge Books, Detroit, 1971.

    SAHAGUN, Bernardino de Fr. THE FLORENTINE CODEX GENERAL HISTORY OF THE THINGS OF NEW SPAIN. Twelve books in thirteen vols. Trans. by Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles Dibble. Santa Fe School of American Research and the University of Utah Press, 1950-1982(*131).

    131 This is not an easy series to obtain and there have been several printing of the different books in the series. Collections can be found in several large University libraries. Listed here is a guide that may be of help.

    1961 THE PEOPLE. BOOK 10
    This volume is primarily devoted to the study of medicine and
    contains mentions of many drugs and plants used by the Aztecs,

    PAGE 50

    SCHENDEL, Gordon. MEDICINE IN MEXICO FROM AZTEC HERBS TO BETATRONS. Austin University of Texas Press, 1968.

    SOUSTELLE, Jacques. Trans. from the French by Patrick O'Brian. THE DAILY LIFE OF THE AZTECS ON THE EVE OF THE SPANISH CONQUEST. New York The Macmillan Company, 1962.

    STANDLEY, Paul C. TREES AND SHRUBS OF MEXICO. Washington, D. C. Smithsonian Institution. 1920-1926.

    TOOR, Francis. A TREASURY OF MEXICAN FOLKWAYS. New York Crown Publishers, 1947.

    TOWNSEND, Richard F. THE AZTECS. London Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1992.

    TRACY, Toni M. Ed. CLINICAL TOXICOLOGY OF COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS. Baltimore Williams & Wilkins, 1984.

    VOGEL, Virgil J. AMERICAN INDIAN MEDICINE. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.

    WOLFGANG von HAGEN, Victor. THE ANCIENT SUN KINGDOMS OF THE AMERICAS. Cleveland The World Publishing Co., 1961.

    The following libraries were consulted during the preparation of this publication The University of Arizona, Tucson The University of Texas, Austin The University of California, Berkeley The Tucson/Pima County Library system, Tucson The Humboldt County Library system, Eureka.

    Return to Table of Contents


    Anesthesia... 34
    Anthelmintic... 35
    Antihemorrhagics... 37
    Antisyphilitic... 24
    Aphrodisiac... 38
    Astringent... 35, 36, 37
    Atropine... 32
    Cannibalism... 10
    Deformities... 6
    -- causes of disease... 38
    -- childbirth... 42
    -- sudden illness... 42
    -- worshiped by sorcerers... 40
    -- pain... 22
    -- teeth... 11
    -- toothache... 30
    Diaphoretic... 31, 36
    -- basic diet of the Mexica... 9
    -- beverage... 11
    -- dietary aid... 35
    -- vitamins... 8, 27, 37
    Diuretic... 23, 24, 26
    Emetic... 21
    Emollient... 26
    Gardens, medical... 4
    Hallucinogenic... 28, 29, 33
    Hernandez, Francisco... 6
    Hospital system... 6
    Hydragogue cathartic... 36
    Hygiene... 5
    Hyoscyamine... 32
    Laxative... 28, 33, 38
    -- appetite... 28, 31
    -- arteriosclerosis... 38
    -- asthma... 30
    -- baldness... 34
    -- bleeding... 21
    -- boils... 32
    -- bones... 28
    -- brain... 35
    -- bruises... 24
    -- chest pain... 21, 23, 26, 30
    -- childbirth... 19, 24, 26, 30, 33, 37
    -- colds... 19
    -- common drugs... 18
    -- constipation... 28, 33
    -- cough... 36
    -- cysts... 31
    -- dandruff... 34
    -- diarrhea... 19, 20, 22, 23, 30, 36
    -- dysentery... 19, 21, 26, 31, 36
    -- dyspepsia... 37
    -- ear... 30, 32
    -- enema... 19
    -- epilepsy... 24
    -- eye... 21, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 34
    -- fatigue... 25, 30
    -- feet... 32
    -- fever... 19, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 34, 36, 37
    -- flatulence... 22, 24, 28
    -- gout... 23, 34
    -- gums... 5, 36
    -- hay fever... 32
    -- headaches... 21, 22, 30
    -- heart... 34
    -- hemorrhoids... 21, 24, 32
    -- hernias... 20
    -- hiccups... 23
    -- impotence... 25
    -- infections... 20
    -- itching... 24
    -- kidney ailments... 25
    -- lameness... 19
    -- lice... 24
    -- mange... 31
    -- menstruation... 35, 37
    -- mouth... 34, 35
    -- nasal... 36
    -- nausea... 26, 28
    -- nose bleeds... 37
    -- pain... 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 28, 30, 31, 32
    -- paralysis... 19, 34
    -- pus... 36
    -- rashes... 20, 30
    -- respiratory... 19
    -- ringworm... 26
    -- scorpion stings... 21
    -- sexual appetite... 24
    -- snakebites... 21, 24, 30, 31
    -- sores... 27, 31
    -- spinal cord... 35
    -- spleen... 30
    -- stamina... 24
    -- stomach... 19, 28, 33
    -- swelling... 21, 22, 24, 25
    -- syphilis... 28, 30
    -- throat... 30, 31, 33
    -- toothaches... 30, 31, 34
    -- tumors... 19, 20, 28, 31, 34
    -- ulcers... 19, 20, 22, 24, 25, 31, 34
    -- urinary... 21, 23, 31, 33
    -- uterus... 30
    -- venereal... 35
    -- worms... 31
    -- wounds... 27, 34, 36
    Mental health
    -- fear and apprehension... 12
    -- hydrophobia... 31
    -- in need of improvement... 3
    Mydriatic effects... 32
    Narcotic... 26, 28, 29, 32, 36
    Naturopathic terms... 3
    Poison... 19, 23, 30, 33, 35, 36
    Practitioners... 16
    Sedative... 35, 37
    Stimulant... 21, 36, 38

    Return to Table of Contents




    History of Biomedicine - Indigenous Cultures

  • Vanilla Aztec history of this food.
  • Spirulina Algae used as food source.
  • Chili History of Chili.
  • Chili Facts Much information.
  • Chocolate Information on chocloate.
  • Aztec Chocolate Drink Recipe.
  • The Aztec Empire And Cocoa From Cadbury.
  • Cocao Tree photo
  • Chocolate Lots of information.
  • Chocolate money Mesoamerican information
  • Amaranth Grain.
  • Amaranth Educational text
  • Centruy Plant agave americana
  • Avacodos Lots of information.
  • Avacodos With Aztec graphic.
  • Avocado oil Text information with graphic
  • Chayotes General information food.
  • Teonanacatl Mushrooms.
  • Food in Aztec Society General Information.
  • Aztec Corn Educational text
  • Corn History and statistical information.
  • Poinsettia history Educational text
  • Morning Glory Plant.
  • Plants You can order many varieties here.
  • Plant Alkaloids Many Mexican references.
  • Herbs Educational text
  • Traditional medicine Text in Spanish.
  • Aloe Vera History and uses.
  • Medicine Traditional medicine in English.
  • Notes on the Present Status of Ololiuhqui and the Other Hallucinogens of Mexico Medicine.
  • The Hallucinogenic Fungi Of Mexico Medicine.
  • Rubber Rubber in Mesoamerica article.

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    Religion of the Modern Aztlan Movement

    Religion of the Mexica & Bibliography

    Major Deitites of the Mexica

    Minor Deitites of the Mexica

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    Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity?

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