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HEALING HERBS: Follow the Chinese lantern

ANNETTE MAYNARD-WATSON, [email protected]

HEALING HERBS: Follow the Chinese lantern

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IT IS AMAZING how many medicinal plants are in Barbados and yet their location in the “grasspiece” remains a secret.

How many people go out on the lawn or in the bush behind the house to locate these valuable silent doctors? Furthermore, how many can identify these priceless healers?

This week I am presenting silent doctor Chinese lantern and I am inviting you to try to locate it. Instead of calling our game “finding the silent doctor fugitive”, let’s call it “finding the silent doctor powerhouse”. The grand prize the winner will collect is the medicinal value found in this mysterious plant which can assist with personal healing. There can be multiple winners.  

Description: Pantug-pantugan is an erect, branched, hairy annual herb, growing 0.5 metres to 0.8 metres high. The branches are terete and often tinged with purple; the ultimate ones slightly angular. Leaves are ovate, six to 12 centimetres long, 4.5 to 7 centimetres wide, with pointed tip, rounded or slightly heart-shaped base, and nearly entire or faintly undulately lobed margins.

Flowers are solitary, axillary, about eight millimetres long. Corolla is pale yellow, with five large, purple spots at the base inside. Fruit is round, fleshy and edible, about one centimetre in diameter. Calyx is inflated, accrescent and ovoid, about three centimetres long, two centimetres in diameter, green, with five prominent and alternating slender and purplish ribs.

Scientific name: Physalis Minima Linn.

Other names: Tinkling bell grass, pygmy groundberry, sunberry, Chinese lantern and country gooseberry. 

Parts used: Leaves, fruit and roots.

Health benefits: Research has revealed that this silent doctor can expel worms, and treats fever, ulcers, gonorrhoea, gout, urinary diseases, colds, fever, swelling pain of the throat, headaches and spleen disorders. It also has diuretic, tonic, anti-inflammatory and purgative properties. The juice of the leaves mixed with mustard oil and water are excellent for earache.

On the website, these health challenges are listed under “illness cured” using Chinese lantern: 

• Laxative.

• Expectorant or promoting the discharge of phlegm.

• Strangury or slow and painful discharge of urine.

• Splenomegaly or the abnormal enlargement of the spleen.

• Ulcers.

• Cough and bronchitis.

Finally, it is imperative that you try to research the numerous silent doctors which are located on the lawn or in bushy areas. They contain many medicinal benefits. As you search, take nothing for granted and remember that silent doctors heal even at a cellular level.

• Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via [email protected] or by telephone 250-6450.

DISCLAIMER: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific claims for any products. Any attempts to diagnose or treat real illness should come under the direction of your health care provider.