Saturday, April 13, 2024

HEALING HERBS: Bajans must get back to cockscomb

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OF ALL THE SILENT DOCTORS which exist in Barbados, the one which recently came across my mind as I was relaxing in my warm bed was cockscomb. I keep wondering why. 

This silent doctor can be termed a resident of many flower gardens in Barbados. When I was a little girl my grandparents’ gardens were loaded with cockscomb and my mother successfully loaded her garden with them. They have many medicinal benefits which are enjoyed by people all across the world. I have conducted some online research about the “incredible cockscomb”.

Common cockscomb, scientifically known as Celosia argentea L, is used extensively in many parts of the world as a vegetable and medicinal plant. The seeds, stems, flowers and roots are used for healing.

In The Philippines the leaves are eaten as a vegetable but it is not given to menstruating women. In certain parts of Africa it is also used as a vegetable for its protein and vitamin properties.

Furthermore, the seeds are often powdered and used for sexual enhancement and diarrhoea. A poultice of the leaves is also coated with honey and applied to the skin to soothe painful conditions, especially an abscess.

It is really amazing to know that this plant, which is overlooked in Barbados, is used by the Chinese to treat gastroenteritis and leucorrhoea. Bruised stems and leaves can be applied as poultice for some challenges including skin eruptions and sores. The roots are cleaned and boiled and used to treat gonorrhoea and colic.

Research also indicates that the flowers and seeds are used to treat haemorrhoidal bleeding and bloody stool. In Indian folk medicine you are sure to hear that cockscomb is used to treat diabetes and the seeds are used to treat wounds, fever and jaundice. 

In Sri Lanka the leaves are used to combat itching fever and inflammation. In the Antillies a brew of the flowers is used for phthisis, which is defined at Merriam-Webster.com as “a progressively wasting or consumptive condition; especially pulmonary tuberculosis”.

In A Guide To Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated, Scientific And Medicinal Approach by Hwee Ling Koh, it was revealed that in Indonesia, “the flowering tops are used for bleeding lungs”. Further, “in Malaysia the flowering tops are also prepared as decoctions for white discharges, excessive menstruation, dysentery, proteinuria, bleeding piles and bleeding nose”.

Finally, I want all readers to locate a cockscomb plant and nurture it. Get to know your silent doctors to advance the cause of caring and preserving our future medicinal kingdom.

Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via silentdoctors@gmail.com 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.

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