Peruvian Institute for the Study of Andean Phytotherapy (IPIFA), Peru

Site Visit

  • Location: Chaclacayo, Peru
  • Date: Fall 2008
  • Web site: IPIFA
  • Site Visitor and Author: Ferdinando Pisani


IPIFA Gardens

Photo by Ferdinando Pisani, ©2008 / FAIM

IPIFA Gardens

The Peruvian Institute for the Study of Andean Phytotherapy (IPIFA) was created to scientifically study and valorize the incredible wealth of knowledge in Traditional Peruvian Medicine. The institute was established in 1983 by Father Edmund Szeliga, a Salesian Polish Priest, who had lived much of his life as an educator in rural areas of Peru. It is situated in an old villa in Chaclacayo, an area that was once the traditional winter abode for wealthy families from Lima. In 2005 Father Edmund passed away but his legacy continues. A small commemorative plaque was placed at the entrance of the institute: "You continue sowing among us health and brotherhood." The villa has a well-kept garden where an extended variety of herbs are cultivated.

Father Edmund was learned in Quechua, the official Andean language spoken by the Incas. This allowed him to learn directly from traditional healers without passing through a translator. It also helped him discover the etymology of plant names that many times reveal their traditional medical use. For example, the plant called manayupa comes from "runa mana yupa" which means "man does not speak." This is a symptom of liver inflammation. Thus with an indication of it's use as an anti-inflammatory herb, it is now used as a powerful detoxifier and blood purifier.

The institute now treats local and foreign patients with medicinal plants from the Andean and Amazon regions. Certified medical doctors at IPIFA do not follow any pre-established schemes. Medicinal plants are thus supplied with an individual medical prescription and dosed in accordance with each phase of the treatment. Protocols are supported by proper diet guidelines. Over the years, the Institute has treated over 50,000 patients. So many people demand the services of the institute that a second clinic has now been established in Lima which is much more accessible to the metropolitan clients.

Doctors at IPIFA also administer other validated complementary therapies. For example, the garden in the villa houses a colon-therapy hut made of eucalyptus wood. The pharmacy that dispatches the herbs is Digemid (local FDA) approved.

For more information, visit the IPIFA web site.