NPR : News

Filed Under:

Costa Rican Tribe's Traditional Medicines Get A Modern Media Makeover

When the Terraba tribe in Costa Rica rallied to oppose a hydroelectric dam they feared would destroy their land and their centuries-old culture, the indigenous community took a modern approach.

They linked up with journalism students at Elon University in North Carolina, who built a website describing the tribe's way of life, including how it makes use of medicinal plants.

The 750-person tribe relies on an array of grasses, shrubs and seeds to treat everything from sunburns and colds to leukemia and prostate cancer.

None of their teas and ointments have the Food and Drug Administration's seal of approval, but the plants have been mainstays of the Terraba tribe for centuries.

"The Terraba are a woman-centered society," Amanda Sturgill, a journalism profesor who led the project, writes in an email to Shots. "Knowledge about cultivation and use of the plants is passed down through women. If they are relocated, though, access to some of these plants will be lost."

Last summer, Sturgill and her students spent time with the Terraba tribe, whose roots trace back 10,000 years in Central America. "The leader of one of their clans let us photograph different plants and explained their uses," she says.

The students pulled the information together in a website that also explores the Terraba's language, history and traditions. The site launched Thursday.

"The Costa Rican government has said that the Terraba aren't a robust culture enough to preserve them," Sturgill says. "We are showing that they are unique."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.