Today we headed off inland to Cauquenes to see a fellow wine-maker, I took the opportunity to ask about herbalists in the area. The only person they knew of who may know something about local herbs was the honey producer. Straight away the neighbour Didier took me down to his stand at the Christmas market in the town centre. I asked him to name a handful of local plants that people used medicinally.
The first he referred to as Perrico, which turned out to be Saint-John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), which they use for mild depression as we do and burns, skin complaints etc and much more..stomach acidity, chronique diarrhea, intestinal gas, arthritis, menstrual difficultues, nervous headaches and much more, the list is endless as it is held in great esteem in Chile....!
The second plant he mentioned is known locally as Poleo, which is actually Pennyroyal Mint (Mentha polegium), (see photo in previous message), used for digestive problems especially after fatty foods, expectorant, soothes coughs, kills worms, aids stomach ache, stimulates transpiration and finally also acts as an insect repellent.
Next comes the Boldo, it was bound to be mentioned sooner or later, Peumus boldos, (see photo above left )everyone here knows it and its uses, native to Chile, its alcaloide boldina stimulates gastric juices and bile production aiding digestion, the gall bladder and liver function. The locals drink a great deal of Boldo leaves in herbal tea form, 30g per litre.
Aloe vera came as no surprise either it's name comes from a few probable sources, in Arab "Alloeh" means bitter substance and in Greek it means sea. Whatever the case there are no doubts for its efficiency in healing and scar tissue. It is also used here in Chile to rehydrate, help blood coagulation, prevent allergies, disinfect, act as an astringent, combat inflammation, stimulate bile production and help digestion.....no wonder it has become so popular in Europe recently. The honey man told me that local people eat it in yoghurt. ( see photo above right taken in santa Lucia park in Santiago)
Everyone has now heard of rosa Mosqueta oil or Chilean Musk rose oil.....an oil made from pressing the tiny seeds found inside the rose-hips of a wild rose called Rosa affines-rubiginosa in latin. The oil contains 80% essential fatty acids, of which 44% is Linoleic acid (Omega 3) and 36% alpha-linolenic (omega 6), these are both indispensable for cellulaire regeneration and epidermal suppleness making this oil extremely effective in combatting the signs of ageing and healing scarred skin tissue. The fact that it greatly diminishes and in some cases can completely attenuate burns or scars is also due to its content of Vitamin A which in synergy with the omega oils works on a deep cellular level to heal damaged skin.
The locals however cannot pay the high price for the oil and use the plant in its natural form, the petals are instringent and the seeds are used to combat fevers and urinary tract inflammations. The hips as in Europe are appreciated for their high Vitamin C content.
I also asked if he had any experience with bee venom therapy, which is the healing of certain diseases and ailments throught the use of live bee venom, he told me that he didn't have the necessary qualifications to heal using this method BUT he had it used it on his family and recently had very good results on an articulation problem on his wife's shoulder. This form of therapy is relatively new, could be very dangerous and demands an experience and trained practioner. The adrenal glands are stimulated after a bee sting and produce cotisol, a natural, human hormone with anti-inflamatory properties. the hypothalamus, pituary and adrenal glands are activated causing the immune system to produce endomorphines, the body's natural pain-killers.
I tasted his propolis, which I am used to buying back home in France and was surprised by the difference in taste, aspect and colour, it seemed richer and more honey like, he put it on my skin it wasn't sticky, a good buy for my travelling first aid kit.
A thankyou to the honeyman, Mario Abello Fuentes and his family for their time and welcome!