Neurological and mental health disorders are extremely debilitating, and sufferers in developing countries often rely on traditional practitioners for these medical needs. Few studies have focused on botanical remedies used in this context, although these offer interesting treatment alternatives. The present study investigated plant use for the treatment of neurological and mental health disorders by Q'eqchi' Maya healers of southern Belize. We found that these healers generally recognize and treat epilepsy/seizures, headache, madness, fright (susto), depression, numbness, insomnia, and stress with herbal remedies. Quantitative analyses showed that there is selection for the use of certain species and botanical families, namely for species of the Pteridophyta division and for plants from the Piperaceae family. This study denotes the importance and selectivity of plant use by Q'eqchi' healers of southern Belize for the treatment of neurological and mental conditions and points to a possible underrepresentation of these disorders in the ethnobotanical literature.
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Vol. 59 • No. 4