My biological mother is the quintessential herbalist. No, she is not an African native doctor, but boy does she know which herbs growing right around her house can cure what ailment.
Before I continue with this post, may I just drop an advance reading warning. This post is going to be talking a lot about illnesses and some of the body fluids that come along with them. Hang in there though, there are gems along the way 🙂
I recall nights in my childhood where, I would sleep with a fever and wake up in the morning only to discover the bitter taste of crushed herbs in my mouth. The culprit, my mother; The victim; completely healed.
Aloe-vera is her go-to plant. She grows them right in our balcony and uses them for just about everything. Our body creams were mixed with the gel, our tummies and tongues ran riot when she blended them as a juice, and our hair was not left out of the aloe-vera love. African Shea-butter or Ori came in close second-place. A little ache, a little pain and we would be massaged with its thick butter. Scalds and burns got an Aloe-Ori combo.
Sometimes, we would hide injuries and ailments from her because in our mind’s eye we could see her running towards us with mashed herbs in one hand, mixed ointments in another, and a pot of burning incense on her head. Oh, we did go to the hospitals for laboratory tests and prescriptions, but deep in our hearts, we knew, if you want to get well, go to mother.
I am still contemplating whether or not to tell you about this particular incidence…
…okay, I will. Remember, what I said in the beginning, this post can get gross.
I fell terribly sick on this occasion while living away from her home. My mother was in the next town over, but why bother her, it is probably just malaria, I thought. The doctor added typhoid to this diagnosis and gave me lots of pills. Still, things didn’t get better that week. My sister called mother and she drove me home in the middle of the night.
With a cup of brewed herbs, leaves, and roots in my hand, the following morning, I sat in her living room struggling to swallow.
As she bustled into the room, and out to garden, she began drilling me with questions. In my feverish, incoherent state, I mumbled responses, but didn’t see this question coming.
“When last did you do number 2?”
I sat stunned. What does paying a visit to the toilet have to do with the fact that I am too sick even to recall my phone’s password? That was naivety speaking because mother knows best.
“I can’t recall”, I answered and sipped some more of the hot liquid.
Whipping out a mortar and pestle, another concoction including the unmistakable scent of Alligator Pepper was in the offing. Did I mention my mother is dramatic? She began singing and asking God, what kind of daughter does not remember her bowel movements.
“You will do it, outside of the house not in my toilet. I want to inspect.”
Now, if you are like me and feel grossed out when you hear of mothers who suck mucus from stuffed up babies’ noses in the absence of a nasal pump, wait until you meet my mother.
Too sick to protest, I went along with her instructions even when I was told the paste was going in my behind (covers face). Shame and disgust aside, I was running around the house in two minutes, itching to do number 2.
Mother hurried outside to dig a hole. The entire ordeal was a revelation and I was well by the end of the day.
In my journey to find home, I have acquired many mothers. If you have traveled and lived in a place beyond the comfort of your immediate genetically related family, you know what I mean.
These mothers have helped me discover the powers behind Apple Cider Vinegar, Coffee Enema, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Kombucha Tea, and more.
Rather than protest, I know better. So, I yield to years of experience and love.
On Tuesday, my regular bout of flu took a turn for the worse. In circles of swirly vision and liquid limbs, I swooned into my neighborhood pharmacy. “Just let the fever, heavy limbs and sinus pressure go away”, I said. These symptoms were way past brewing Ginger-Garlic-Honey-Lemon, one of mother’s recommended teas. The lady recommended an effervescent tablet that combines aspirin with an antihistamine. With CAC 1000 in the mix, I walked out with hopes.
The fever left and some weakness stayed behind on Wednesday. By Thursday, cough and the what-happened-to-your-voice symptoms began.
One of my mothers summoned me to her house and I left with a Ziploc of Menthol Crystals and some roots for the cough.
This morning was another revelation. Dropping the crystals in a steam bath, I inhaled and bathed unsure of what was to come.
For the past 30 minutes, I have been coughing up things I did not know I had in me. They drop down from my sinuses like hot lava and the bathroom sink and I have bonded together from frequent use. The colors that come out are varied and so is their thickness. Finally, I feel better. The GGHL tea has something to work with now and together with the menthol crystals, it feels like my body is at war with viruses.
I don’t know if I can ever be like my mother or all the mothers that have cured me. Sometimes, I attempt their magic when a friend is ill. Piping hot pepper soup is my flu recommendation and I try to remember other natural remedies my mothers taught me.
Knowing what herbs to pluck and crush to cure this-and-that may be way out of my league. Or maybe it isn’t? Maybe we can ask all our mothers for the natural remedies and herbs they know of and make a “Mother’s Medicine is the Best” guide. Until then, what natural remedies did your mother (s) treat you with?
Please share candidly, because I have spilled it all, wink 🙂