In Cuba, modern drugs are expensive and hard to find.
Fortunately, Cuba, like many tropical countries, is blessed with a wide variety of medicinal plants.
So the government is promoting what Cubans call “green medicine.”
In pharmacies throughout the country, the shelves are full of medicines made from local plants.
People grow medicinal plants everywhere — around schools, offices, factories, and in vacant city lots.
Many different kinds of medicinal plants are grown in Cuba.
Some examples are oregano (Lantana involucrata), ginger (Zingiber officinale), garlic (Allium sativum), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis), basil (Ocimum basilicum) and passion flower (passion fruit: Passiflora edulis).
And these plants have so many uses!
The juice from the leaves of the aloe vera plant is rubbed on the skin to heal wounds and burns.
Garlic helps cure coughs and colds, and helps prevent heart disease.
In Cuba, people walking home at the end of the day can buy herbal medicines directly from the grower at a roadside stand.
Or they can buy prepared herbal medicines in pharmacies and hospitals.
MUSIC AND MARKET SOUNDS
Ginger is a popular herb in many countries.
It helps cure a great number of illnesses.
Here are three ways to use ginger.
These remedies come from the Philippines and Cameroon, but you can find ginger cures all over the world.
The first remedy is very simple.
If you have nausea, indigestion, or vomiting, simply chew a slice of fresh or dried ginger root.
The discomfort in your stomach should soon disappear.
The second ginger remedy helps to soothe the pain of arthritis.
Start by heating a thin slice of ginger in oil.
When the oil cools down, remove the ginger and rub the oil on the painful areas.
This should reduce the pain in your joints.
The third remedy is good for sore throats, especially if you are having difficulty speaking.
Grate the ginger, or slice it into thin pieces, until you have one tablespoon of the root.
Then place it in a container with two sticks of cinnamon.
Pour one litre of boiling water over the mixture, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Drink one half cup of the liquid each day.
Please remember that these remedies may not work all the time, and they may not work for everybody.
If your problem continues, see a health worker as soon as possible.
Cuban doctors are discovering that herbal medicines work just as well as modern drugs for some infections, parasites and some other illnesses.
Sometimes they work better!
The Cuban Ministry of Health has tested many plants for their medical effects, including ginger.
They have found 200 plants that are effective.
Some day, people in Cuba may be able to afford to use modern drugs again.
But many doctors will continue to use herbal medicines, because they are inexpensive and they work well.
Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, writer/researcher, DCFRN.
Reviewed by: Conrad Richter, Richter Herbs, Goodwood, Canada.
“Cuba treats sick with green medicine, alternative treatments,” by Shelley Emling, Cox News Service, 1997.
Philippine medicinal plants in common use: their phytochemistry and pharmacology, by Michael L. Tan, 88 pages. AKAP Research, Quezon City, Philippines, 1980.
“Remedios caseros: jengibre” (Home-made remedies: ginger), in Ometepe, No. 7, August 1994, page 11. Fundacion Entre Volcanes, Moyogalpa, de la Shell 150 vs al Sur, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
“Medicine d hier: comment soigner la toux avec du gingembre” (Traditional medicine: how to cure a cough with ginger), in Communautés Africaines, No. 52, April-May-June 1995, pages 21-22. Apica B.P. 5946, Doula-Akwa, Cameroon.