The Jungle Journal

mysteries and magic

  • Laura LaBrie

Chechen and Chaca: The Magic of the Maya Jungles

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Two trees always grow together here in the jungles of Mexico. Chechen and Chaca. One is toxic and the other is healing. Yesterday, I got the sap of the chechen (also known as black poisonwood) on my hand and within a few minutes I was extremely uncomfortable. My skin was red and burning and itching and swelling very quickly. The sap of the chechen tree is extremely toxic and, if left untreated, can cause first and second degree burns, blisters, and a nasty rash that itches so extremely you will want to rip your skin off (I know this because I did).

A couple years ago I was clearing land, cutting tree branches, and carrying bundles of them away. At that time I was unaware of the both dangers of the chechen and the healing properties of the chaca. Of course, I was was scratched all up and down my arms from a day of clearing and hauling branches. I broke out in a terrible, painful, itching, burning rash that left scares on my arms when it finally began to heal. Unfortunatly, because I had been so scratched by the branches, the poison had not just gotten on my arms, but it had gotten into my bloodstream and the rash became systemic. I would heal in one area and then a couple of days later break out in another. It took a YEAR to completely heal from the effects of the chechen tree.

So, this time, when I began to itch, I went to a local Maya gardener and asked for help. He cut the bark of the chaca tree for me and told me to soak it in cool water for a couple of minutes and then tie it to the affected areas of my hand. The relief was almost instant. The burning and itching stopped and within a half hour all the swelling was gone. After my previous experience, I was very grateful to have such quick and complete results with the application of the healing balm of the chaca tree.

It is truly amazing that the poison and the cure always grow only a few feet from each other. If you happen to run into the burning sap of the chechen, you can find the tell-tale red bark of the chaca nearby so easily, even in the dense jungle. If I had known the cure was so close the first time I ran into the chechen tree, I would not have suffered so badly. How often do we suffer in life because we simply don't know that the answer to our problem is within reach?

Amazed at the nature of things,


#chechen #chaca #poisonwood #Maya #Mexico #Research

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