1. Carao for Energy and Anemia
My first experience with carao was while I was hiking through the jungle. I had a guide with me and I noticed a plethora of little monkeys eating what looked like dark brown pea pods. I asked about them and the guide explained the monkeys were eating carao, found in pods on the trees. The “pods” ate quite hard and the monkeys have to bang them and break them to access the edible portion within. The guide mentioned off-hand that Costa Rican hospitals give carao to patients who are sick from chemotherapy to help them recover. Later, in my medicinal plants class, I studied carao in more depth. It can also be used to increase energy and, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, seems to help strengthen the blood and fight anemia as well. You can buy the fruit syrup from the Standish Company LLC (https://www.tropicalhealthfoods.com/#) if you’re not lucky enough to be in Costa Rica, where a monkey may just throw one of the pods at you (that actually happened to me) for free. The syrup from the fruit is REALLY strong. I find the smell kind of noxious – like a sweaty locker room. If you hold your nose, though, the taste isn’t half bad. If you like molasses, you’ll probably like carao. If you don’t like the strength, you can always mix it into warm water or milk for a tea or latte. I find it’s a good energy booster and helps me recover faster after an intense athletic workout.
2. Coconut to Regulate Thyroid Function
The teacher, who is a herbalist and healer, told me that about 1 T of coconut oil (virgin, raw, unrefined, and organic) helps to regulate thyroid function. I checked other sources later and many confirmed that as a way to use coconut oil. Who knew?! I have several friends with thyroid disorders so I told them about this and they’re trying it out to see if it works. If you try it, please let me know if it works for you and, as always, remember this is NOT medical advice and I am not a doctor. Sorry. Had to say that just in case!
3. Pau d’Arco for Skin
Pau d'arco is a tree whose bark and wood are often used to make medicine for everything from cancer to diabetes to stomach ulcers. In my class, the teacher focused on its benefits to the skin, such as its help in reducing eczema and increasing skin health generally. She made a little tincture out of organic Pau d'arco. You can also take it in tea form, but be careful not to take too much. Everything in moderation (and, again, I’m not a doctor and this isn’t medical advice). There’s an interesting article on the tea here: https://draxe.com/pau-darco-tea/
There were so many other plants to learn about and, if this is an area that interests you, I highly recommend the book “Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica” by Ed Bernhardt for more information. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/medicinal-plants-of-costa-rica-ed-bernhardt/1008720108