Michael J. Balick

  • Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically diverse nations in Central America. Over 3,400 species of plants can be found here, within six different ecological life zones. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 300,000 visitors annually, who enjoy the natural habitat and friendly people of this nation. Many of the plants of Belize have a long history of being "useful," with properties that have served traditional herbal healers of the region as well as modern medicinal applications.
    With Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize, Drs. Michael Balick and Rosita Arvigo give us the definitive resource on the many species of plants in Belize and their folklore, as well as the natural history of the region and a detailed discussion of "bush" uses of plants, including for traditional healing. Both Balick and Arvigo bring important perspectives to the project, Balick as ethnobotanical scientist from The New York Botanical Garden, and Arvigo as a former apprentice to a Belizean healer and an experienced physician. The book has been decades in the making, a culmination of a biodiversity research project that The New York Botanical Garden has had in motion since 1987. Drs. Balick, Arvigo and their colleagues have collected and identified thousands of plants from the region, and have worked extensively with hundreds of Belizean people, many of them herbal healers and bushmasters, to record uses for many of the species. This collaboration with local plant experts has produced a fascinating discussion of the intersection of herbal medicine and religion in the area, and these interviews are used to compliment and contextualize the numerous species accounts presented. The book is both a cultural study and a specialized field guide; information is provided on plants used as food, medicine, fiber, in spiritual practices and for many other purposes.
    Richly illustrated with over 600 images and photographs, Messages from the Gods: A Guide to The Useful Plants of Belize will serve as the primary reference and guide to the ethnobotany of Belize for many years to come.

  • This third edition of the Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants is designed to assist the clinician in the initial response to the needs of a child or adult exposed to a poisonous or injurious plant. It highlights common and important plants that lead to the adverse effects upon exposure, and it describes the mechanisms of action of the implicated toxin, clinical manifestations, and specific therapeutics, as available, for each. This truly comprehensive resource is botanically rigorous with insights from both the pharmacognosy and medical literature. At the same time, it is also for those who are interested in growing and enjoying the plants in their environment, filling in a not-often-discussed botanical and horticultural niche that goes beyond their beautiful physical appearance. Plants contain many useful chemicals that humans have used for millennia as botanical curatives. This book will help the reader understand the fine balance between a medication and a poison, why plants contain these natural substances, and their impact on the human body.

    With its thorough references and full-color photos of hundreds of potentially toxic and injurious plants inside and outside the home, this book is useful for identifying and addressing concerns about cultivated species and those found in the wild.

    This book will be of interest to botanists, horticulturists, clinicians, and naturalists as well as hikers, gardeners, and all those who simply enjoy the wonders of nature and the great outdoors.  

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