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HEALING HERBS: A tree for extra kick


Annette Maynard-Watson

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There was once a sacred tree which mysteriously sprang up in Emtage Bottom named “silent doctor” silk cotton. This village tree was gigantic and noted in African folklore as a brilliant treatment for impotence, diabetes and hypertension.  
Later, some Europeans abducted Africans from Africa and brought them to Barbados to work on sugar plantations. It was then touted that Africans were uncivilized but, like King Solomon, these wise and valiant Africans “knew who they were” and had a splendid understanding of herbalism.
Thus, they utilized the silk cotton tree for religious and health empowerment. Diabetes, hypertension and cancer were minor issues back then. In fact, those shrewd Africans brewed “award-winning” cooling tea and ultimately some of the descendants of those enslaved Africans are noted Barbadian centenarians. How royal are my ancestors?  
Therefore, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to the Creator the things that are the Creator’s.” – Mark 12:17.
African History Month continues with this article being dedicated to Evelyn “Granny” Walcott of Grannies Restaurant in Oistins. Granny understands “silent doctors” and to her I present the “majestic” silk cotton tree. The Creator knows best.
Ceiba pentandra known as silk cotton tree/kapok is referred to by me as “The Pharaoh of Trees”. Its flowers are important to honeybees. With its mythical qualities some call it the “jumbie”, supernatural or spirit tree. Its thorns artistically depict the blood, sweat and tears involved in healing.  
Remembering Moses, we must stop unconsciously “butchering” trees. Instead, investigate why divine Mother Nature releases the buoyant “silk cotton” into our neighbourhoods during a particular season.  
I have my personal tree for research purposes and it seems to say: “Suffer me to come unto you, I will teach you and then depart.”
Furthermore, why do some silk cotton trees permanently reside in some churchyards? Is it for safety or for preservation by the church? Sounds holy to me!  St Philip and St John parish churches have gigantic trees.
Research shows that the silk cotton tree was employed to treat the following health challenges. The bark for impotence (Grandpa knew how to get the extra kick), gonorrhoea, oedema, fever, asthma, boils, toothache and some oral challenges. Its root treated dysentery and period pains.
Let the drums roll and note this quote from shaman Dr Malidoma Somé: “A life without purpose is an unfulfilled life.”

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