Caribbean Medicine with Veronica Gordon Crooks – Hidden Garden workshops
If you ever find yourself on Central America, please take time to visit my second favorite country. Costa Rica is a must see and the more time you spend there, the better. The best way to travel around Costa Rica is by bus.
One of the nicest places in Costa Rica is no doubt Puerto Viejo. I stayed at different hotels and cabañas there, and my last accommodation choice for Hidden Garden.
”My knowledge is what my ancestors passed on me. I am the 3rd generation from Jamaica and I am passing it on to my 5 children (they are 21 to 36 years old) and 6 grand children. I’ve been married for 36 years.”
Veronica Gordon Crooks opened up our Caribbean Medicine, yet another Hidden Garden workshop I participated at.
I met Veronica already twice before when we talked over at their house and also when together with a friend we went there to taste their traditional Caribbean breakfast. Veronica is a famous person not only in Puerto Viejo area, but appeared on TV, too. Together with her family they have been trying to show people how to cook vegan, vegetarian and raw vegan meals.
Very sweet Veronica just explained more about the breakfast offer to the others at the workshop.
”Saturday we dedicate to family, hospital and people from our community and our the farm, so no breakfast nor dinner is possible. Only from Sundays to Thursdays we offer dinners but you have to make a reservation. And also Monday to Friday we do breakfast. We use a lot of sugar cane syrup to sweeten the home-made bakery, not white sugar so no need to worry about your shape.” she smiled.
Then Veronica stressed out the importance of family as such in the Caribbean culture and that we should always stick together.
”No matter where you go, how far you go away from your family, when then is a strong reason or something really important happens, you always go back to family. So if there is a bad relationship with your family, now it’s time to change it and open yourself. Be in peace and at least try to change it.”
”Pride and envy are negative emotions and not good in any family. There’s always someone who did something wrong or made a mistake, but just recognize it, say sorry and make a new better relationship.”
Then, Veronica focused on the importance of religion and quoted us text from Bible that inspires her:
”Dijo Dios que nos ha dado plantas y arboles que dan semillas o sera para comer. Toda planta verde le sera para comer y fue asi.”
Knowing, that believing in family and God are the basic principles of the Caribbean culture, Veronica slowly moved to the Caribbean medicine, the main topic of our workshop.
”I learned from my parents that the things do not come by casuality but they were created to make us happy and healthy even though it might not look like that in the beginning.”
”Now people are creating new things, they modify them. GMO is not a natural way, they make it bigger or smaller or whatever just to make money and the nature is not our friend any more, it’s killing us. The nature is crying, it’s hurt, that’s why there are so many disasters. Now, I’m tired of this attitude. We should take care of the nature, interact with it as it gives us life in abundance.” Veronica’s honest speech gave me chills.
The questions got stuck on my mind…
With 1 seed we can plant 1 tree and look at how many fruits we can get from just 1 tree.
So why are we complaining?
Why are we getting sick?
Why there’s hunger if there’s so many things in the nature we can eat?
Please, wake up. People do it because they are ignorant. But we can educate them.
Let your food be your medicine.
”Animals don’t do exercise, their bones are soft and their flesh is different if they are grown under roofs on farms. Their meat is now really bad. What used to grow in 9 months now grows in just 3 but of course it cannot be healthy.”
”I am happy to spread the word about non-GMO. I want to live in a natural way and pass it on other generations.”
We can use nature in a positive way. Nature is here to regenerate us. We can prevent sickness living naturally.
After the opening speech which served to open our eyes to be kind to nature and to love healthy, we took a barefoot garden walk to learn about some herbs in practice.
It was super funny when Veronica was the only person with her shoes on.
But I was so happy I could walk barefoot and not to care about what others think.
Let me tell you! Veronica Gordon Crooks is such a knowledgeable person! It was difficult to keep up with the notes as she was giving us so much information.
Afterwards, we came back to the terrace where Veronica explained us more about medicinal plants, coconuts and pregnancy.
- are the main ingredients in Afro-Caribbean diet
- coconut leaves are used to cover sheds, to decorate for parties, to make arts, or even grasshoppers, butterflies, flowers, hats
- green water coconut pipa – is fruit full of electrolytes. It cools you down. Veronica calls it God’s water as it’s so pure. It has so much cover with a lot of fiber, then inside there’s a shell and then water – so there’s a reason why it is so deep inside. It goes to our digestive system and straight to our blood. The pulp is good for digestion, it’s not oily at all. You can put pulp into drinks or desserts or mix with other fruits.
- the brown coconut is a nut. ”When we used to gather together with family and community, we all brought coconuts and grate them together to make coconut milk and then from it we made coconut oil. We all had gallons of coconut oils and didn’t use any other oil. We didn’t even have shops in here to buy any different kind of oil, you know?” Brown coconut shell is put on fire to make it bigger. ”The pulp we used to give it to chicken so they were healthy eating fiber just like us, so they were healthy. We and animals should eat the same fruit, seeds, plants, nuts … so they are clean too if you need to eat them. Eating animals should be occasional, not every day. They are here to help us too. But people take them as our enemies.”
- coconut oil is so good for skin problems – before sunbathing, for sunburn or any other skin problems.
- the hard inner part of the big coconut was used to shine up the floor.
- piece of palm is use to make arts or to strain something.
- the coconut shells are used as bowls (it reminded me of my time spent with Bribri indigenous tribe where we drank water from a coconut shell.)
- Veronica does not recommend young coconut water for pregnant women, nor for people with really low blood pressure as it balances the blood pressure to make is lower (good for high pressure)
Today we are in such a speed that we don’t take time to do things in the right way in the right time and in the right place.
Plants we learned about that are used in the Caribbean Medicine:
- Citronella has a sweeter smell than lemon grass and the leaves are a bit bigger and wider, only serves against the mosquitoes vs. lemon grass can be used for more things and even eaten.
- Mozote plant – for tea to cool down.
- Sorosi is cleaning the blood and liver, good for digestion after food poisoning (make a tea from it), you can mix it with other teas, such as juanilama (it’s sweet and good for digestion). It can be used green or dried for teas. It’s also good for menstruation problems and pain. It’s cold and dry. I learned something about sorosi already at another workshop about Costa Rican medicinal plants.
- Cacao leaf is good to warm up and put on top of your belly when you have menstruation pain. Cacao beans warm you up. Baby cacao fruit is used to stop bleeding as it closes the scars.
- Cinnamon leaves are used for stomach cramps, nausea, and warming your body. We put the leaves in syrups (sugar cane syrup), or porridge.
- Culantro is a sort of wild cilantro used for digestion.
- Caña agria – sour cane is for kidney problems and you make a juice of it to take in dosis.
- Cucaracha plant is for stomach and kidneys.
- Eucalyptus is good for bad cold, as a tea, or inhale to clear out the sinuses. Tea is good for digestion too.
- Oregano is good for allergies and thanks to iron it builds blood. You can inhale it too or put it in the beans when cooking.
- Cena – wild cena plant from the beach has long leaves with yellow flowers. Put in alcohol for pain on the skin.
- Bierom tea is good for digestion; it even smells nice. If fainting or feeling weak, or not being able to breathe, you can inhale it, or also when feeling depressed to smell it in a lotion. Or put on forehead when you have a headache.
Other things I learned:
- Sustainable living calms you down. The nature balances us. We create with the sense of creating.
- Everything you overdo has consequences. But it all depends on your body and blood too, and the climate you are from.
- Veronica’s Caribbean ancestors used to check the smell and shape of the fruits and nuts to know what kind of body they resemble and thus serve for.
- Most plants are for digestion as it’s the more active part of the body so many plants are made to protect the digestion. So if we help and take care of digestion, we would not have many problems with sickness.
- Papaya and similarly looking fruits (when you open them), such as avocado, are good for digestion and for women problems.
- Figs are good for male testicles as they look like them.
- Broccoli looks like brain so good for memory.
- Ackee looks like brain and contains natural protein.
- Mango is good for heart and muscle pain.
- It’s better to mix plants for tea when they are dry and not still wet and green. E.g. for cold we use 7 plants in the Caribbean medicine and make a syrup from them.
- There are many recipes with yucca used in the Caribbean Medicine. Yucca is healthy but it’s a starch afterall, so balance it and don’t overeat.
- We used to sterilize all the clothes before using them.
- There’s a lot of natural ways of how to detox yourself. But detoxing all the time is not good for you and if you have the right diet, it’s not even necessary. But if you are eating junk food, you need it more often. First eat garlic for a few days, then add castor oil twice a year to purge the worms/parasites out of your body.
Some pregnancy tips from Veronica:
- Eat a lot of beets and other veggies.
- Not a lot of peppers because then the baby gets sensitive skin.
- The last month it is recommended to drink sorosi tea so the baby’s skin is clean. Also drink mozote for easier labor.
- Sea water is good for you so swim in it.
- For morning sickness in the first months just smell a lemon or even bite into it. Eating sour and greens take away the nausea (e.g. green mango, green guayaba.)
- Belly skin is stretching so use coconut oil on it and do not scratch. The more you scratch, the more stripes you get.
”I hope we can all grow together.” Veronica summed up our quick Caribbean Medicine workshop.
Then we all celebrated new information with lunch.
For more information, visit Hidden Garden website. Many thanks to Veronica Gordon Crooks for teaching us the basics of the Caribbean Medicine! To find our more about Veronica, please check out Veronica’s Place.