the field of biochemistry, herbs are generally classified as natural products
and as such they are considered in themselves naturally diluted. The
concentration of the biologically active substances they contain is most of
the time low, their concentration being in the order of the microgram and even
the picogram. That simply means that only one gram of active material is
contained in 1 ton or in 1000 tons of the whole plant. Under such a condition,
the need to utilize a scale or a balance to weight the raw materials at the
time of preparation of a "te" tea is evidently superfluous.
some plants must be viewed as very toxic or potent. Such is the case, for
instance, of the "kokomb zombi" (thorn-apple
or devil’s apple - Datura stramonium). The flowers are usually sun
dried, rolled up in paper and smoked as cigarettes as an effective treatment
So, the range in potencies of a herb
may vary widely within the same plant in its many parts, that is flowers,
leaves, roots, etc..., from plant to plant of the same family, from one
species to another, all throughout the year, when the season is rainy, when
the condition of humidity in the air changes and also with the altitude of the
place where the plant was grown or cultivated. There is quite a different
degree of potency from the extra-mild activities of watercress or the "bab-mayi"
(corn styles) which are used as "rafrechi", or as "te"
for cleansing, for instance, to the very potent "konkonb zombi"
or (Datura stramonium).
Haitian Hugan and Mambo recommend the
use of corn "beard" to be taken as a "rafrechi,"
or "detox" as they would say it in English, even when the person
doesn’t appear sick, just as a method of prophylaxis or of internal hygiene.
This recommendation is made particularly strong when the interested person
resides in places that are infested with parasites and mosquitoes, or when
that person usually eats alone, or at hours that are irregular, when his diet
includes too much fatty substances and/or spices, when the quality of the
water he drinks is doubtful or when the person has a weak liver.
A weakness in the liver may be due to
spiritual, emotional or physical stress, or it may follow a previously cured
hepatitis, malaria, typhoid, amoeboid and viral infections. This condition may
be noticed only when that person starts abusing alcohol drinking or drugs.
However, a person may very well live with only a fraction of his liver and not
knowing that he has a liver condition.
A "rafrechi" is then
used to alleviate such a condition. It is an extra-mild process of internal
cleansing that involves the boiling of two to three fistfuls of corn "beards"
for about twenty to thirty minutes in a large volume of water, (about one
gallon or three to four liters). When cooled and strained, this extract is
kept in the refrigerator and drunk ad libidum all throughout the day, and for
a number of days, usually seven.
Depending upon the person’s health
condition, one may wish to increase the potency of the broth by adding some of
the following herbs. A few leaves of lettuce, a few buds of squash or pumpkin
(about seven to ten), a few young leaves of okra, the inside white coat of a
bitter orange or chadèk (citrus grandis), some leaves of
sweet-sop (annona squamosa), and a little pinch of table salt. These
add to the power or efficacy of the detox. Each one of these additions brings
to the whole thing new chemicals whose effects multiply the one of the "bab-mayi."
When one desires to increase further
the strength of the "rafrechi", not only for a general cleansing
that will affect the digestive, the intestinal tract and the liver, but that
will also clean the blood, the lungs, the hearth and the kidneys, a different
process is suggested. It is called "bay moun nan you lòk",
meaning "giving the person a lock," a process that involves adding
to the above-mentioned leaves some or all of the following herbs:
- a few branches of "lamitie,"
i.e. dodder or love-vine or Cuscuta americana
- 21 leaves of "twa zòm fò"
i.e. Stemodia durantifolia
- 21 leaves of "Ti Sanit’
" i.e. senna small leaves or Cassia obovata
- 21 leaves of "Vulnerè"
i.e sage or clary or Salvia occidentalis
- a few branches of "Dèyè do"
i.e. quinine or gale of wind or Phyllanthus niruri
- 21 leaves of Medsiyen barachen
i.e. belly-ache bush or Jatropha gossypifolia
- and some scrapings of muscat i.e.
nutmeg or Myristica officinalis
after twenty minutes of heavy boiling, one reduces the volume of the broth by
boiling it down to approximately a couple of glasses. Two parts of this
concentrate will then be combined with one part of extracted castor oil and
brought back to a boil for about five to ten minutes and then cooled overnight.
The mixture is gently warmed up the following morning and drunk in the
condition of fasting. The ingestion of this lock is customarily followed by
eating immediately an orange or a grapefruit. No food should be served to that
person until he has two or three bowel movements.
have shown that the entire Datura plant is powerful, containing some strong
alkaloids of the tropane family. The concentration of hyoscyamine, atropine
and scopolamine it contains are in the order of .2 to .45%, that is
almost 5 grams of these substances are contained in 1 kilo of the plant.
Hyoscyamine is a parasympatholytic substance which causes hearth accelerations,
dilatation of the bronchioles and which has a general antispasmodic effect on
the individual. The toxic doses, easy to reach, provokes hallucinations, loss
of control of oneself, and may even lead to death.
have put in evidence, though, the presence of very valuable alkaloids, saponin,
polyphenols, salicylic acid, allantoin and some potassium salts in the styles
of corn. The watercress seems to be rich in iodine, iron and in vitamin A and
3 Styles - the hair adjoined to corn cobs.
4 Laboratories have showed that the
leaves of "joumou" contain a p-hydroxy benzoic alcohol; the ones of
the "calalou", phosphorus, a flavonoid called gossypine and some
amino acids; the "zoranj si" contains an essential oil rich in
limonene, linalool and nerol, stachydrin and a tri-terpene lactone amaroid,
and vitamin C, and the leaves of "kashiman" brings dopamine and a
substance called reticulin which is spasmolytic and analgesic. The general
effect of the salt precipitates some of the important ingredients (salting-out
effect) and its overall action is also spiritual.
5 "Lamitie", as a
Convolvulaceae, contains some resin and its utilization is well known to be
anti-icteric, anti-dysenteric, purgative and depurative; the "twa zòm fò"
is a scrofulariacea that contains alkaloids, steroids, terpenoids, quinones
and flavonoids; the "Ti Sanit’ " acts against worms and larvae, it
contains an oxymethylanthraquinone; the "Vulnerè", also called in
creole "ti bom mawon", acts against flatulences, gases and abdominal
pains by its active principles which are fumaric acid and an essential oil
that contains camphor, borneol and cineol. The "Dèyè do" acts
against flatulences and fever. It is febrifuge and antispasmodic. Its active
principles are mainly a phyllantin and an hypophyllantin. The "Medsiyen
barachen" or "ti medsiyen" also acts against abdominal pains
with its jatrophin and some diterpenic derivative esters. The "mascriti"
oil is purgative due to the ricinoleic acid which is liberated by the
pancreatic lipase which raises the peristaltic intestinal movement. It
contains furthermore gallic, shikimic, ellagic, ferulic and p-coumarinic acids.