Oct. 16, 2003 – Retired licensed practical nurse Eulita Jacobs grew up on bush medicine, and on Thursday she passed along some of what she knows to about 50 people who gathered at Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center to learn about "Medicinal Plants: Then and Now."
"Put the leaf of the noni bush in an old frying pan and heat it," she advised. You then place the leaf, also known as painkiller, on your ache, wrap a band around it, and wait for your arthritis to ease.
Many plants have numerous purposes, she said. For example, the flesh of the aloe plant can be use to treat colds and also can be applied to bruises, cuts and burns to heal them.
Cobwebs can save lives. Jacobs said. She related that when the doctor cut the umbilical cord too close after her sister delivered her baby, she began to hemorrhage. Jacobs was sent to sweep down some cobwebs, which were applied to the wound. They "stopped the bleeding," she said.
Jacobs also talked about the benefits of a poultice made from brown laundry soap and brown sugar. "It sloughs out everything," she said.
She had lots of accolades for coconut oil, which was used as a hair dressing, for cooking and on a baby's skin. And when one listener asked why West Indian women have such smooth skin, Jacobs said it's the coconut oil they use on their faces.
She drew laughter when she talked about the love bush. While you can use it to treat kidney and urinary problems, she said, young girls used it most often to determine if the boy they fancied liked them back. They wrote the boy's name on the leaf and left it beside the road. "If it rooted, he's in love with you," she said, as several women of a certain age nodded their heads knowingly.
While some people, such as Ina Daniel, came to hear Jacobs' presentation because she is their friend and they wanted to show their support, others came because they wanted to learn more about bush medicine. "As a nurse, I've been taught about traditional medicine, but I've seen living proof that bush works," said Fran Talbot, the nurse at Julius E. Sprauve School.
Beverly Biziewski, who like Jacobs is retired from working as a licensed practical nurse at Myrah Keating Smith, asked those at the forum to tell their doctors if they're using bush medicines. "Some don't mix," she said.
Erica McDonald, health center administrator, said the forum attracted the largest turnout of any held there so far. It was part of the center's For Your Information series, which has presented programs about every other month. McDonald said the next one will be in January, on the topic of asthma.
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