Thursday, April 18, 2024

HEALING HERBS: ‘Standpipe grass’ works miracles

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They consumed every blade of grass in the country. – Psalm 105:35

Hooray! It is Independence month in Barbados and our Independence journey is going to be dynamic and inspirational.

I love November because it is my birth month and you know what they say about November people. Additionally, birthday greetings are extended to all persons born in November.  

Today, we are going to journey with a grass used as a blood cleanser and for hypertension in bush tea in the “old time days”. Dogs love to eat it but it is terribly mistreated and often sprayed with lethal chemicals.  

After reading this article, I want you, like others in the world, to show more appreciation towards “standpipe grass” as it is an important part of our national herbal heritage. It is a very popular roadside and backyard grass.

When I made my first conscious step into herbalism, the elders shared many of its secret remedies for healing. Furthermore, I grew up around standpipe grass and daily admire my grass garden at home.

Silent doctor Eleusine indica has many English names. Its spikes resembles the feet of some birds. Some refer to it as dog grass, wire grass, fowl-foot grass, crowfoot grass, Indian grass or wild finger millet. In Barbados we call it standpipe or duck grass.

In the book Caribbean Wild Plants & Their Uses, Honychurch (2011) makes reference to this silent doctor as a medicinal grass. Personally, I have used the leaves, roots and seeds in my bush teas.

Research shows that standpipe grass is used in:

Guyana to stop bleeding, for fever, bladder disorders and as a pain reliever;

Malaysia – asthma;

Bakwiri people in West Africa – haemoptysis;

Nigeria – malaria and diabetes;

Cambodia – liver complaints and fever;

Venezuela – seeds given to infants suffering from black jaundice;

Sumatra – for worms;

Colombia – convulsions, dysentery and diarrhoea;

Sri Lanka – muscle pain.

Research also revealed that its seeds are sometimes used as famine food in some countries. As a millet, it is cooked or ground into flour. Additionally, the young seedlings can be cooked to accompany rice as a side dish.

Standpipe grass was used by the indigenous people of the world to treat many health challenges. We should promptly investigate the research conducted on this “medicinal hero” and educate all schoolchildren about it.  

Moreover, as the hard economic times deepen in Barbados, we must consider investing in a standpipe grass business.  

Finally, I hope that the policymakers and heritage gurus would allow standpipe grass to take its rightful place in our history as an unsung medicinal hero.

• Annette Maynard-Watson is a teacher and herbal educator.

 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.

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