Get a 'woman piaba' bath to relieve stressThursday, December 21, 2006
Christmas - a time to reflect on the year past and enjoy the fruits of your labour in food, drink and merriment - is also a very stressful time, particularly for women who are usually busy with the preparations.
It is with this in mind that I am looking this week at a herb just for the females. It is helpful for menstrual cramps, and, when combined with other plants, makes a refreshing herbal bath to soothe the body and relieve stress.
Woman Piaba (hyptis brevipes), made popular in a song by Harry Belafonte, is a mint-like herb of African descent, which makes a good tea for colds, fever, headache and gout. It is also a potent medicine when the juice from the leaves is squeezed on a fresh wound.
The plant is a favourite of health-conscious visitors to the island who like the dried leaves as incense. Its strong aroma is even thought to be good for warding off evil spirits, and is often used by Jamaican revivalists in their worship.
Aside from being notably good for female discomfort, I particularly like to use the plant in a herbal bath. In fact, some years ago I was interviewed by Vogue Magazine about piaba after their travel writers were pampered with a preparation of the herb at a famous hotel and spa in the Negril resort area.
Use a combination
. woman piaba;
. cuss-cuss root; and
. blue vervain
1. mix herbs together;
2. add salt physic or baking soda;
3. place herbs in your bath or use a large wash tub;
4. seep the herbs in hot water (leave in until the water cools to body temperature); and
5. submerge self in water (just relax and let the herbs work).
This is also good for easing skin lesions and relieving the skin of impurities.
Buckston Harrison is well known for his work as a herbalist, especially in western Jamaica. He resides in Sheffield, Westmoreland.
Being a Rastafarian, I do not subscribe to Christmas. But the season, which brings us many of our blessed foods, is one that I look forward to.
Around this time of the year, things like gungo peas, bannabis (a very nutritious bean that grows in the country), ginger and sorrel are a few that come to mind.
Just the other day, somebody told me that they grew up very poor and as such was fed many times on just bannabis and rice, or bannabis soup.
I told them that, in fact, they were very rich and that foods like these is very nutritious and that they were really not missing out on anything.
This is the kind of food that I hope people will get back to - especially at this time of year when many of these peas and beans are in season - because under the right conditions, there really is no need for flesh.
As a brethren of mine would say "man eating flesh only gives him enough strength to do wickedness", not necessarily to live. Why not try to cook a meal of rice and peas and have just that? Include the peas that are in season - for example gungo, red peas, bannabis and any other you may have. Add your favourite herbs and seasonings, and cook down with coconut milk. This should prove highly nutritious indeed.
Seasoned rice with peas
. 1-2 lbs of brown rice (you may also mix white rice with bulgar)
. red peas, gungo peas, cow peas (any other kind of bean that is in season);
. annotto seeds (to give the rice a vibrant colour);
. escallion, thyme, onion, celery, pepper (other herbs and spices
. coconut milk; and
1. Combine rice, seasonings and coconut milk and cook; and
. Add callaloo in the last 8-10 minutes of cooking.
It serves four to five people.
In closing, and in keeping with my mission to introduce you to foods grown right here in Jamaica that you might not be familiar with, I will introduce the white sorrel.
It is not as widely used as the red one, and in fact very few Jamaicans might be familiar with it. Right now, I am just trying to grow some myself - given to me by my Rasta brethren last year.
I have not used it myself, but I hear it makes a very nice drink - similar in taste to the red sorrel. My friend, Daughter Avril from the Rasta community here in Retrieve who did research on the plant "rumexossicinalis" said it is good for ulcers, intestinal tumours and problems of the spleen.
It is, however, very rare.
Thomas Huber is a Swiss national who migrated to Westmoreland's Retrieve District 10 years ago. He is a naturalist who lives off the land and is deeply involved in an ongoing effort to create Jamaica's next generation of exotic fruit trees.
Buckston and Huber's Alternative is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, cure, prevention or treatment of disease. You may send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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