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The Adventures of Olivia - Part 1

Iracambi – January 2022 

Over the past week I’ve engaged in a variety of activities ranging from building a plant shelter, to going on long hikes to install cameras to see that the rainforest is preserving its biodiversity, to painting signs.  

However  something that has fascinated me here is the plant medicine laboratory and its work.  In this post I write about Carla.

Carla runs the Laboratório de Plantas Medicinais and has an incredible amount of knowledge about the plants in the rainforest and the medicinal properties of each. She has taught me how to make tea from the leaves or bark from the garden and has begun to teach me what her goals are for the program. 

In terms of planting, she has created a plants Mandala with plants specifically related to a certain part of your body. She has a variety of plants all over the research center, in the rainforest and all over the ground.

We also have begun to create essential oils with different plants in order to make soaps, deodorants and shampoos. Our current endeavor is creating lye from natural ingredients to be able to make soaps that are biodegradable and all natural. The extent of Carla´s work does not stop here. She is passionate about teaching local women how to make soaps, both for themselves and for sale.  

And the workshops also provide the elders in the community with the opportunity to come teach Carla something. She knows that there is much more to learn, and although she is highly educated on medicinal plants, she knows that knowledge of their uses also owes a lot to history and family traditions. She states that the workshops are “as much about listening as learning.” 

 She empowers women, creates economic opportunities for community members and is always continuing to experiment, grown and learn more. Her passion for medicinal plants is beautiful and she firmly believes that there should be a connection between the two separate worlds of herbal medicine and the medicine that is more commonly used today. 


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