Friday, April 12, 2024

HEALING HERBS: Bidens alba a lifesaver


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I SWEAR that silent doctor Bidens alba is deeply in love with me and genuinely adores clinging onto me. Whenever I go into a grassy patch, my pants bottoms are usually covered with hundreds of the seeds or needle-like black spikes.  

I have also recognised that it seems not to understand that when I say “aiee, these needle-like seeds sticking me real hard”, that my skin usually hurts because the spike needles inflict sharp pain. Secondly, I have pants still loaded with needle-like seeds because I have to find time to remove them.

Readers who are curious also know Bidens alba as monkey needle, Spanish needle, butterfly needle, shepherd’s needle and beggarsticks. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and bears some beautiful daisy-looking white flowers.

While driving around Barbados and admiring this unassuming spiritual plant, I have noted that it is treated as if it is a pesky weed. It spreads fast because it has a massive amount of seeds and also regrows from cut pieces of the stem. While we may discard this plant, in some countries the flowers are used in salads and reports indicate they are also used to make wine.

The website has revealed that this silent doctor can treat “colds and flu, hepatitis, bacterial infections, inflammation and urinary tract infections”. It adds that Bidens alba “reportedly has constituents that can depress the central nervous system and lower blood sugar”.

A study was conducted through the Department of Biochemical Science and Technology, College of Life Sciences, National Chiayi University, Chiayi, Taiwan, by Ong PL, Weng BC, Lu FJ, Lin ML, Chang TT, Hung RP, Chen CH (2007). It was titled: The Anti-cancer Effect Of Protein-extract From Bidens Alba In Human Colorectal Carcinoma SW480 Cells via the Reactive Depletion – Dependent Apoptosis. The results revealed that the protein extract of Bidens alba might have therapeutic value against the human colorectal cancer.

Finally, what we know as a pesky weed is fast becoming valuable by health-seekers. As the earth evolves and we continue to lose power as “control freaks”, information pertaining to plants and survival will continue to engage our attention.

I have been educated by my mother and grandmothers to always keep a garden bed or a pot of shepherd’s needle near the side door. This plant must be appreciated not only as a gift from the Creator but also as a lifesaver. 

• Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via 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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