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St. Maarten, St. Martin’s "Bush" Remedies

St. Maarten

Spearheaded by a group of local Rastafarian farmers, an agricultural wave is aiming to revive knowledge of local “bush” remedies. A brief look at which plant cures what ailment is just a scintilla of what any Caribbean grandmother can tell you.

Tamarind: The looming Tamarind tree has been providing pools of shade in the Caribbean for over two centuries since its introduction from Asia. Beyond the providing of shade, the tree is a pharmacy. Boil down the paste from its pods and add sugar to make a refreshing juice which is a mild purgative and immune system booster.

Aloe: Found all over the Caribbean, growing everywhere, is this “miracle” plant. While there are over 400 species of aloe in the world, only Aloe Vera is used in herbal medicine. More people are familiar with aloe than with any other Caribbean plant as the word “aloe” is plastered all over the suntan lotions they buy. Score the fleshy leaves and the plant oozes a gluey, bitter, sap. A small drop of this sap in something sweet has a cleansing, laxative effect but it is best known for direct application to sunburns, rashes, cuts and eczema not to mention all other kinds of burns.

Soursop: Also known as Graviola, Guanabana or Corossal, the smooth, shiny leaves are boiled to make a tea with a calming, sedative effect that’s good for insomnia and to fight fever. It can also be made into a juice that has a taste between banana and strawberry.

Lemon Grass: Also known as Citronella or Fever Grass it has a wonderful citrus smell. Mosquitoes hate it which is why the leaves are crushed and the oil used as a repellant. It can also be used to brew a tea which treats colds and tension.

Noni: A South East Asian plant that has been taking the world of herbal medicines by storm. The extract of its nobbly fruit is turned into Noni Juice which is now a $2 billion global commodity. Noni Juice has antioxidant properties, aids digestion, cuts cholesterol and boosts energy.

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