HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Paris, France or Virtually from your home or work.

6th Edition of International Conference on

Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies

June 20-22, 2024 | Paris, France

Traditional Medicine 2024

Kerry Hull

Speaker at Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies 2024 - Kerry Hull
Brigham Young University, United States
Title : Ethnobotany meets mythology: Exploring ethnomedicinal therapies and strategies for treating snake toxins among the maya


This paper explores ethnobotanical medicines used by the various Maya groups to treat snake bites. Based principally on ethnographic data gathered through our fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, we detail the use of numerous plants and plant-based remedies to treat specific types of snake bites. In addition, examine the roles of local specialists (known as shamans, “bush doctors,” or snake doctors) who are expert in using both plant recipes as well as incantations to heal snake bites. We also look at the chemical and therapeutic qualities of certain plants employed by different Maya groups to find if there are scientific correlations to addressing toxins and resulting symptoms. And finally, we approach snake bite cures from the perspective of Maya mythology since a number of their remedies are not plant related but rather linked to mythological understandings, thereby requiring a separate, often non-physical solution. This paper provides detailed documentation of traditional ethnomedicines and practices from the dying art of traditional Maya healers and argues for multi-faceted diagnostic techniques to determine toxin severity, the presence or absence of sorcery, and the appropriate botanical remedy.

Audience Take Away Notes:

  • For an audience interested in ethnomedicine, this will provide a nice case study of specific plants and the medicinal value attributed to them by Maya indigenous groups as well as showing how these remedies often correspond to known therapeutic properties of certain plants.
  • This will provide another data set which teachers of ethnomedicine can use in addressing these topics in class.
  • This will show how a multidisciplinary approach (archaeology, ethnography, botany, and anthropology) can work together to shed light on emic notions of healing.


Kerry Hull is a professor in the department of Religion at Brigham Young University. He received an M.S. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University in 1993. He completed a Ph.D. in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. His academic interests include Maya linguistics and anthropology, ethnobotany, ethno-ornithology, Polynesian linguistics, historical linguistics, and Maya epigraphic studies. He has conducted linguistic, ethnographic, and archaeological fieldwork in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and in several areas of the Marquesas and French Polynesia. He is the author of A Dictionary of Ch’orti’ Mayan and over 70 peer-reviewed articles.