'Good health and good sense are two of life's greatest blessings'
Health: the Holy Grail
Everyone wants to be 'healthy and happy', right? But neither of these are necessarily automatic. I can't just do whatever takes my fancy at the time and hope it works out.
For example, if I eat a lot of sweets, I get pimples. If I get run down, I become an easy target for cold and flu viruses. If I focus continuously on my own plans, I am not able to enjoy the present moment.
Sickness isn't always something we can avoid, however. Sometimes things just happen, like we injure ourselves, or are confronted with an illness that we are not in a good state to handle. For times like these, we need a 'savings account' of good nourishment, and also a 'just in case' fund of nourishing medicine to get us through.
At this point in time, I'm struggling with a few health issues: burnout and infertility (from long-term stress), jet lag, and the flu (from my recent international move from Australia to Peru).
Normally I'd just tootle on down to the pharmacy or the naturopath for some high-strength supplements (shipped from all around the world) to get me through, but where I'm living now in a regional town in the Andes, I have neither the income nor the access to buy foreign supplements from China, India and the like.
Fortunately, we are living with my husband's family at the moment, and his mother is an expert in local herbs. Have indigestion? Fresh herbal tea. Feeling stressed? Fresh herbal tea. Have a virus? Fresh herbal tea. And the best thing of all is that these are not expensive bottles of pills and powders—they're just another fresh food item to put on shopping list for the green grocer's. What a thoughtful Creator to provide local plants for our health and healing!
So what are these plants, and what do they do?
5 amazing medicinal plants from Peru (linked pages are in Spanish)
Andean maca (Lepidium meyenii)
This root is native to the Andes Mountains in Peru and Bolivia. It contains 6 out of 8 amino acids and is said to be excellent for hormonal and libido support for both men and women, as well as improving energy and vitality in general (have it in the morning if you want to sleep at night!).
Huamanripa (Senecio tephrosioides turcz, Ranunculus gianteus family)
This herb is a species of buttercup which grows in the Andes Mountains and the Amazon jungle. Taken as a tea, it is useful for any sort of problem in the chest and lungs, including coughs, bronchitis, and even asthma. Huamanripa has also been found to help with bodily aches and pains.
Muña (Minthostachys mollis)
This woody shrub grows in the South American Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia. It helps with stomach aches, indigestion, and gas (when taken as a tea), rheumatism and gout (when used in a bath), and supports a calm nervous system (when taken as a tincture). It is also useful for repelling insects in the garden.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)
This gluten-free, alkaline grain grows in the Andes and is a rich source of omega 3, protein, fibre, magnesium, and zinc. It helps you feel full, lowers cholesterol, is good for high blood pressure, and has a lower GI than white rice. No wonder they call it a superfood!
Uña de gato, cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa)
This herb is native to Central and South America, and grows in the Amazon jungle. It cleans the intestinal tract is said to help with stomach and bowel problems. It has alkaloids which support the immune system, is an anti-inflammatory and enables the body to manufacture sufficient antioxidants to fight disease and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. It can also improve brain function and memory.
Why not export them?
So if these medicinal plants have so many healing properties, why wouldn't I start up an export business and ship them worldwide? If they support health and would generate a nice little income, why not take advantage of the opportunity?
Here's why: every region in the world is jam-packed full of local superfoods and medicinal herbs. I realised this after I heard a talk on powerful Asian herbs and then watched a video on herbs used in the South-Western US desert.
Yes—I could import Chinese ginseng and export maca (also known as Andean ginseng), I could import Mediterranean lemon balm and export the native muña, or I could just use the plants which are available to me locally. As you would have noticed, each plant I described has multiple functions, and between the five of them they've pretty much got the common ailments covered! There are also herbs like chamomile and oregano from the Mediterranean which grow very well in most places, so these can easily be added to the home garden and the local menu.
To be sure, there are specific health needs which benefit from specialised plant remedies, but I'd prefer for imported remedies to be the exception and not the rule.
I prefer to use herbs which are fresh from my own garden (grown organically) and cost next to nothing, rather than extremely expensive concentrated forms which involve industrial machinery, plastic packaging and create air pollution in transportation.
As they say—'fresh is best'. Which medicinal plants could you grow in your garden?
Rosanne Menacho has recently moved to Peru with her husband to spend time (a few years???) living with his family. When she gets over the flu, she will begin her 'Latina house wife' apprenticeship under the tutelage of her mother-in-law, specialising in Peruvian cookery. In her spare time, Rosanne enjoys playing music, dancing, translating and drinking herbal tea. Her heart is to release freedom and joy in Christ, and to see Heaven come on Earth.
Rosanne Menacho's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html