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HEALING HERBS: Bilimbi has health benefits

Annette Maynard-Watson

HEALING HERBS: Bilimbi  has health benefits

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THIS WORLD OF herbal plants has many surprises. On April 9 I received an email from Angela Worrell which detailed her donation of a bilimbi tree.

Whatever inspired her spirit to donate this seedling to me is unknown but I am truly grateful. Caribbean people like Angela are still attached to their roots and that spirit of sharing still permeates many of our villages.

Furthermore, as we journey towards 50 years of Independence in Barbados, I continue to appreciate the work done by our African ancestors to keep the herbal kingdom alive and attached to Mother Africa. The donation of silent doctor bilimbi actually sent me on a herbal quest to provide information about this tree for readers.    

Averrhoa bilimbi, also known as cucumber tree and tree sorrel, is a small tree which grows five to 12 metres high. The leaves, fruit and juice are used for healing. The fruit is crunchy when it is in the unripe state and its appearance changes from bright green to yellowish green when it is ripe.

The fruit is used to make curry dishes, toffee, wines, drinks, pickles, jams and other sweet culinary dishes. The website shows that the fruit can be used to remove stains in clothing and for washing of hands.

Research has also revealed that bilimbi is used as follows:

French Guiana: fever, diarrhoea, hepatitis and other inflammation conditions (fruit decoction).

Indonesia: diabetes, fever, boils and mumps (leaves).

Java: coughs and beriberi (fruit).

Malaysia: venereal diseases (leaves).

Bilimbi is also used to treat high blood pressure, rectal bleeding, internal hemorrhoids, high cholesterol, rheumatic complaints, pimples, skin and eye disorders, mumps and other health challenges. It is also used as a tonic and laxative.

On the website research shows that “in India, bilimbi fruit is used in folk medicine to fight obesity. Experts believe that the fruit’s anti-hyperlipidemic properties mainly constitute its ability to prevent weight gain. Plus, like any other fruits, it contains antioxidants that prevent free radicals from invading our bodies. As you know, free radicals cause various cancer diseases”.

Finally, it is imperative that all readers of this column should try to locate a bilimbi tree and taste the fruit if you have not done so. Also try to locate some space through a community project or through the 4H club and cultivate some of these trees. Remember Revelation 22:2: “. . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”.

• 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 direccton of your health care provider.