Seeking home remedies

By Juan Miret
A Hispanic Matter

Salsa singer Celia Cruz immortalized the song, “Yerberito,” about a healer of sorts who dispenses herbs as miracle cures, including remedies for those who are lovesick.

“I bring ‘yerba santa’ for the throat,” says the song, originally in Spanish, referring to hoja santa, sometimes called root beer plant. And the herbalist also has ‘keisomon’ for swelling; “abrecaminos,” a plant known in Florida as Keys thoroughwort, for one’s future; “ruda” (common rue) to combat sneezing; and basil for skinny people. The last line of the chorus says, in reference to another plant: “And with that herb you can marry.”

In fact, many pharmaceutical prescriptions have their origin in medicinal herbs, says Simon Navarro, owner of 2000 HNC, a natural products store in east Tulsa.

Heartburn that arises just after enjoying a favorite food can be countered with papaya juice. “That fruit is the best remedy for heartburn,” said Graciela López, who was in Navarro’s store buying horsetail. “This is very good for tiredness.”

That intolerable back pain can be healed with a massage that uses a mix of ground ginger and sesame oil, Marina Hurtado said by way of Facebook. “My grandparents used that and it helped them a bit.”

That spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm has innumerable solutions such as scaring the patient, holding one’s breath, and pressing the abdomen and counting to 60. But for some the most effective is mint tea, “good and hot,” according to José Pereira, who says he regularly visits natural products stores. “Our grandmothers’ remedies contain much truth.”

Homemade recipes to stop a cough include an infusion of anise, hot milk with honey, sprinkling drops of thyme oil on a pillow, a glass of rum, or the unpalatable onion tea. “The nettle. There is nothing better for a cough than nettle,” said Laura Salazar, as she purchased a small bag of dandelion, an herb that is said to help with anemia.

And if you can’t find the herb you were looking for, then use the universal remedy that Hispanics turn to: Vicks VapoRub, and surely you will be cured.

Note: The above statements do not constitute any sort of medical advice. Please consult a specialist for treatment of your ailments.

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