Rose is a great believer in natural remedies and as a consequence the medicine cabinet is full of little bottles containing pills and unguents with strange names.
I am more inclined to trust a medicine that has come from the pharmacist via a prescription from my doctor and I long scoffed at her Woo-woo remedies, as I dubbed them. She inherited this belief from her parents who both were from a long line of farmers and were not inclined to scoff at traditional or ‘old wive’s’ remedies.
When Rose’s father had terminal cancer, he gained comfort from several traditional remedies, one of which was capsules of gunpowder to relieve pain. It was rather fortunate that the family chose to bury him – a cremation could have been an explosive affair!
A few weeks ago I developed a maddening itch along my forearms and scratched them raw. A colleague thought the itch was a condition called ‘hives’. Nobody really knows what causes hives. Stress is a popular choice, but then stress is blamed for a whole list of ailments. Anyhow, the suggestion of a topical cortisone cream didn’t really work.
One night I could not go to sleep because of the itch and in desperation slapped on some aloe vera from Rose’s woo-woo chest. It relieved the itch, but not for long. When I told Rose about the effect of aloe vera she leaped at the opportunity to introduce me to a longstanding South African remedy. It’s called Bulbinella, grows like mad in gardens and really does work.
A little research reveals that this unremarkable little plant is a first aid medicine chest all in one.
The freshly squeezed juice is said to be effective to take care of a wide range of skin conditions and wounds: acne, burns, blisters, cold sores (even in your mouth and nose), cracked lips, cracked fingers, nails and heels, insect bites, itchy places, fever blisters, mouth ulcers, sunburn, rashes and ringworm.
It’s also very effective for treating wounds, sores and rashes on animals. You can also make a warm poultice and apply it to the affected area to treat any of the above as well as eczema and arthritis.
Internally an infusion (sometimes a brandy tincture) of a few fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water is taken for coughs, colds and arthritis.
Bulbine frutescens is drought, heat and frost resistant and can be grown almost anywhere. It propagates easily – pull a piece with a bit of stem off an established plant – it will root quickly if you keep it moist. Even flat dwellers will find that they can easily grow a specimen or two on a sunny windowsill or in a large pot on a balcony. It thrives in any soil and is extensively used by the landscape industry in places where little else seems to grow such as road islands and rocky hillsides. It likes full sun and needs very little water.
I read that Bushmen and Iron Age dwellers of Southern Africa knew and understood its virtues and it has long been a part of the traditional healer’s arsenal. I have been applying it daily for the past few weeks and the itch has subsided to barely noticeable.
This time I will happily say to Rose that she was right and I have been wrong to mock her old wive’s remedies – this time, anyway.
* * *
Talk about old wive’s tales, the reading of the tea leaves before and after the recent election has been particularly excruciating.
Very little of the knowledgeable forecasting by the talking heads on TV has proven correct and, apart from minor gains or fails, the unsteady ship of state sails on. Unfortunately and rather like the Flying Dutchman of folklore, SA Inc seems condemned to endlessly sail round the Cape of Storms, never a hint of blue sky anywhere.
A Seaward estate resident made a discovery that, while unscientific, is nevertheless interesting and makes one wonder about the efficiency of the IEC.
An interesting snippet after the elections about the Mark of Cyril, the supposedly permanent ink mark that each voter received on their left thumb. According to the IEC, that mark was supposed to last at least seven days.
While it was shown that a household bleach could remove the ink, here on the Dolphin Coast a Seaward resident who has a bit of a sweet tooth was sucking on one of these little chocolate beans that you can buy for making fondue, while working on a project in his garage the day after elections.
Bad aim with a hammer and bang! He smacked his left thumb and stuck it into his mouth and sucked on it until the pain went away.
On taking it out, he noticed that his thumbnail was perfectly clean. The Mark of Cyril had disappeared.
“How many voters had a chomp of a chocolate bar, sucked their thumbs and went back into vote again,” he asks. Interesting question.
Come the provincial elections in two years’ time, maybe we’ll hear that the political parties are handing out T-shirts and Bar Ones to their supporters.
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