Herbs



Mural en Route to Carrot Bay photo by Allison L. Williams Hill

While living in the British Virgin Islands, I learned about herbs that are indigenous and endemic to the territory and applied the knowledge for my husband's and my health.



Nature, or the Devic Kingdom, is recognized among mediums, psychics, and healers as a powerful force that can support us with its many energies.

Sri Gurudas, author of The Spiritual Properties of Herbs included channeled information about the powers of herbs and how best to use them for illnesses, professional and psychological issues, among others. I mention this man, because of the wealth of information he has provided humanity and that he is an inspiration to me. I hope to include more of his invaluable information in other pages soon.



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Many people use herbs or traditional "bush" medicine. A reading informed me that the hills of Tortola are the tops of mountains, the highest elevation is Sage Mountain at 1780 feet above sea level, a protected area managed by the National Parks Trust. I visualized walking at the base of these mountains, now under several meters of ocean. Then, beings would have had to walk around these giants.

The Arawaks and the Caribs, early claimants and settlers, and eventually slaves, moved around the island because there were no trails through it.

Donkey trails were eventually cut through, and roads still retain those forms, but most travel was accomplished by row boat or other marine vessels around the coastline. Later, as things progressed, a tax was levied on marine vessels according to the number of visible sails.



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Only one doctor lived in the Territory at Roach Hall in what is now known as Road Town. The trip by row boat to his office, depending on where one started, sometimes took three days. Weather, of course, was a major factor. During the rainy season, also known as the "hurricane season", travel was limited. And at any time, the wind could influence one's decision to travel on water.

"Bush" provided what people needed because medical talent was far away and not readily accessible. In many ways that life may be more desirable now; the diet was healthy, certifiably earth-grown - they knew what went into the food. There was no genetic modification of the likes that no one has any idea of what will happen after years of human consumption. No fourteen-syllable additives were included.



"Bush" medicine were herbs - the leaves, roots, stems, and flowers - used for colds, to correct gastro-intestinal discomfort, to calm or excite, eliminate infection, and to fortify the immune system. Africans carried seeds across the Middle Passage. I wonder if they were in what they ate prior to being forced over. Clothing was minimal and some were sold or captured and detained for months before being shackled and imprisoned on ships.

Lemongrass

This is a long grass, a calmative that has a lemony flavor. Lemongrass is a mellowing tea, slows you down. I've heard people claim it makes them sleepy. It's bitterness is slight but it increases with strength.

Yellow Love

A hint as to what an herb could be used for may be in its shape. Parasitic Yellow Love twists and turns in long strands after it has invaded its host. I thought of the brain because of the folds and neural pathways. A simpler reference would be the circulation system. As a tea it is said to reduce pressure. Documented information includes it is used to treat diabetes, jaundice and irregular menstrual cycles.
When crushed and salt is added, Yellow Love can be used as a poultice to treat skin rashes.

Coco Plum

I told my coworkers as we were traveling on a road around Sage Park, that I would say to a vegetarian (cooking) class that, "We harvested Fat Pork today." Besians call Coco Plum Fat Pork. Coco Plum is used for diarrhea. Its leaves are used to reduce fever.

Aloe Vera

Aloe is called "Simple Ivy". This plant is kept at entrances of people's homes either in pots or in the ground. I knew about this in the US, but here it is all over and free. It is beneficial for the digestive system.
I blend it in juice or a smoothie to remove old matter from my colon and oxygenate my system. This gel is anti-fungal and antibacterial. Used on mosquito bites, infections, burns, it helps accelerate healing.
Apply it to wounds but be sure the wound is clean. Aloe Vera should be in all medicine cabinets. Different companies have produced products containing aloe. Read the label, how much aloe is contained in the product as well as anything else, and what it's proposed use is to make an informed decision.

A great article about harvesting and use I read while on Tortola was written by Mike Adams, creator of Natural News.com, a web site I highly recommend for people interested in natural health. The article shows step by step how to harvest aloe and discusses its benefits and can be found here.


Physic Nut

This is probably my favorite because of the name, for its subtle taste and that I felt good after consuming it on a hot morning on Anegada.

It has a delicate taste, slight to no bitterness. For my taste, it did not need a sweetener. It is consumed to maintain health, I thought. I found out later it is good for constipation.

The leaves can be boiled, salted and applied to foot ulcers. The seeds are toxic and should never be consumed.

Noni

Noni is called "Painkiller". We have used it for my husband's sciatica. The leaves grow large, larger than my hand. I coated them with warmed olive oil. I placed them on his body and wrapped the area with plastic wrap and covered it with a towel.
The leaves' size allowed me to use few because they covered a lot of area. My husband just relaxed and meditated on the area assisting the process.
The fruit has received great interest for its benefits for colds, cancer, hypertension and skin infections. More information on noni fruit can be found here.

Lizard Food

I washed the vines and placed them in a tempered glass bowl. I poured simmering hot water over them. I drank it the next evening before retiring. I was warned not to drink more than an ounce because this is a powerful cleanser. Unlike some commercial cleansing teas, there were no cramps. This herb is also used for colds. People use this in baths to protect from getting them. The steam is breathed in and all parts of the body are washed. The infusion is used for colds, fevers, diabetes, and hypertension.

Massaging crushed leaves on skin heals conditions although I don't know which specific ones. This is quite the herb as it is versatile. Studies on lizard food's seeds have shown they are anti-HIV active.

Eucalyptus

This tree used to be plentiful in the BVI. The old individual grows on historic Main Street which was the street on the coastline long ago. A lot of reclamation extended the scarce flat land and more is planned. Well, the tree has its little yard. The senior woman who lives there was gracious to allow me to take some leaves when asked. Eucalyptus is excellent for reducing high blood pressure. It is used to treat colds. Some may think people in the Caribbean need not worry about colds but I've observed weather patterns. When the north experiences low temperatures, the Caribbean experiences the same though not as drastic. Homes and many hotels are not constructed as weather-tight as American or European homes.

There is a lot of air filtration because residential construction is not tight. Caulking is rarely used to close gaps. when it is used, it is spread as you would peanut butter, not applying a bead that, when compressed, will create a seal against vermin and breezes.

Nighttime upper 60s or low 70s temperature will have me in a sweatshirt and sweatpants for sleeping. We use quilts as well. Inhabitants at higher elevations experience much cooler nights than those who live on the "flat" as they say.
Sleeping on the leaves is an aid to reduce fevers.

Sea Grape

I've eaten grapes from one of these trees. It thrives along the coast and produces a hearty barrier that, in Josiah's Bay, farmers harvested ground provisions that never suffered from sea breezes because of the vegetation wall. Sea Grape was one of the trees in that natural barrier along with Maho and Almond.

Several years ago, two lecturers taught classes on how to make wine from sea grape and other local fruits at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College My husband taught there and was Director of Development and Business Initiatives up to 2004. I taught technical courses such as drafting and reading construction drawings.

Hibiscus

We have a large hibiscus bush that grew from a seedling we received from our neighbor Bob. The flowers greet us each time they blossom. They are joyous bursts of color. Recently only the red ones have delighted us with their presence. We have pink as well. I expect them to make their entrances soon. The flower petals are used for tea known for treating hypertension and high vitamin C content. The tea is just plain delicious and beautiful to look at.

Sorrel

I LOVE Sorrel! This flower has a rich red color I think is terrific to be used as a dye. Haven't attempted that. When I get it at Farmers' Week, I buy it by the pound to make a drink. The recipe uses ginger, brown sugar, and lemon. It is full of Vitamin C, tastes delicious.



Black Locust

Another name for the nut of the Black Locust tree is "Stinkmouth". I've eaten it and do not know why, nor has anyone been able to tell me. When the nuts fall, savvy people harvest and eat them. One entrepreneur used it to make ice cream on St. Thomas, USVI.

The nut's content pulls old decayed waste from the intestinal walls improving absorption. It feels gummy; the nut is coated with a short thick pile of standing fibers. It sort of melts in the mouth, has a similar consistency to Slippery Elm lozenges. Drink water behind this and let it do its magic. One can look forward to healthy, productive bowel movements.



Passion Fruit

I noticed few flowers have scents. I think it might be the competition for pollinating friends is in the brightest color rather than fragrance. The passion fruit's blossoms fragrance is sweet and delicate and reminds me of pink Bazooka bubble gum. The pulp strained. mixed with water and sweetened with either honey or brown sugar, makes a refreshing drink.


I attended the American Society of Dowsers Convention in Vermont several years ago where I was introduced to a number of ideas. One of which was in the book Divining the Primal Sense. I do not remember the author's name. It discussed how animals and insects use the energy.

One year, many caterpillars appeared. They prepared chrysalises all over the place- on the trellis, the side of the house, on the Black Locust tree, and in all the clothes I hung on the line. I did not realize the caterpillars created them and started sweeping them off the trellis.

A voice said, "Turn around." I did and saw a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. I watched as it continued to emerge and never swept them off again. After many emerged, they began eating the Black Locust leaves until only a few on this old, large individual were left. That book came to mind and I wished I had a camera to document it all.

Many, many butterflies stayed on the tree and kept beating their wings creating a soft vibrating sound. I have no proof but I was sure they were the reason the tree grew all of its leaves as quickly as it did. When the leaves came, the butterflies left. That happened in 1997 or 1998 and hadn't happened since.

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