Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Spanish medicinal plants- sticky cistrose wound cure

I have been meaning to write something about this plant as it is a fantastic natural wound healer, and general antiseptic. I first found out about the benefits of Jarra as they call it here in Spain through my Spanish campesino neighbours. When I first came out here some twenty years ago, they still lived on the neighbouring cortijo in very much the same way as they had for centuries. They had no transport except an ancient donkey called Rosario, washed their plates with a furry herb that only grew on the north facing slopes of the mountain, made their own espadrilles and seats for their wooden chairs with esparto, made from wild grass type plants and basically lived off their animals, wild foods and small vegetable garden. We quickly got our own donkey from a gipsy horse trader from the next but one village, who turned out to be a little unsteady on her feet and was definately not the young 15 year old as promised. To cut a long story short we took her out on a mountain trail for the day and she slipped on a loose rock and ended up falling 50 meters down a steep slope. It took all day to rescue her with the help of our neighbours who coaxed her out using their own donkey as willing leader. Sadly she had a huge wound in her backside that went right the way down her haunch. Manolo came a few hours after we got her back clutching a bunch of what at first glance looked like sticky twigs. He told us to cook them in lots of water for a few hours and then use this to wash her wound with. We did this everyday, having found a nearby crop of the sticky cist rose, and within two weeks the wound was all but gone. I cant quite describe the wonderful smell this plant has when its cooked its slightly medicinal but with a lovely fresh, flowery aroma. I have used this cure on our horse in the hot summer months after the vet had been to clean out the wound but thought it would take at least two months to close up completely, and had it closed within 3 weeks. The problem with animals and horses in particular is they hate the smell of medicines, so they shy away from being treated especially if its a deep wound. Using herbal medicine doesnt seem to bother them in the same way and they are much more relaxed about being treated. So next time you need to treat a wound even a deep one and you have access to the mountainsides go out and find this plant. It grows quite tall, about 2 meters and has extremely sticky branches that culminate in sticky pointy leaves. Its best to collect this plant in the early months of the summer when its at its stickiest. In June it also has a large white flower as in the picture. Collect some and cook it up in a pan of boiling water for a couple of hours. The resulting water can also be stored in a carafa or water can. Use a fresh clean cloth soaked in the water to rinse out the wound and do this 2-3 times a day. Believe it or not this water also makes a great aftershave- and its wonderful smell beats any expensive designer perfume!

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