Confessions of a Cajun Traiteuse - Faith Healer Home Remedies - Part I
Common Folk Remedies
I am a woman of the past, a past I cannot and should not escape. I was born and raised to be a French traiteuse -- part spiritual visionary and sometimes, a healer of the heart, but never a sorcerer, not believing in them. My ways are those of the old ones and the only things I know well, are what they taught me. I knew them even as a child, just as I still know them as an old woman. I cannot forget them or their teachings.
All in a dream, the old man would fill my head with gibberish about my destiny as a traiteuse, as he whispered in Cadien -- "Many believe in them, many do not. They are the children of the long forgotten ones. I am one and so are you. Our traditions say that my knowledge can only be passed down from me to a younger person in the family. That person must be of the opposite sex. I learned it from Grandmere Julienne Marie Babin. You shall learn it from me. Someday, you will pass it on to a young man in the family who is suitable for this gift. And he, in turn will give the gifts to his daughter."
"I will instruct you how alligator grease relieves asthma, a buried potato cures warts, about the different kinds of wild teas, how to brew home-made cough syrup, how cactus cures sugar, and so much more. However, you must always remember, that it is your prayers that contain the real power -- for they whisper in the very busy ears of God. It is He and He alone who can heal all that ails man."
"Someday you will travel to far away places and you will encounter many of our own kind. They may not be Cajun, however, do not be deceived. They might be old, young, rich or poor. They may be of other races. Never-the-less, you will know them when you see them and they will instantly recognize you -- when they look back into your eyes. You have one very important job. It is your purpose and duty to use your gifts to restore to them what has been denied to them by others. Do not fail!"
Blessed with all that I was taught by Emile and other elderly family members, for a long time I both struggled with what to do with all of that "knowledge" and in knowing that I was obligated by love, to fulfill the life purpose he had passed on to me. Just how do you use your gifts to restore to others what has been denied to them? I made with him a covenant that turned out to be a very tall order indeed!
In the end, I could only conclude, the message is simple, "teach or share what you know."
Lessons Taught in a Strawberry Field
Emile's first lesson to me came at the early age of five. His classroom was a held in a strawberry field. As we picked wild strawberries, he told me about how our some of our Native American relatives were already eating strawberries, when early Colonists arrived.
Sitting under the shade of an old oak tree, he talked about the many medicinal or natural remedies that required the use of the strawberry, especially those using its leaves and roots.
Back at the house, in an old tin tool shed, the old man kept cigar boxes of dried strawberry plant leaves. He explained that they couldn't be used for at least two years. Thus, on his recycled orange crate made bookshelves, were cigar boxes, filled with this and similar such remedies. Lined up like books on a shelf, all the cigar boxes were clearly marked with dates, just like a fine wine label, sitting on the shelf, aging to perfection. Thus, at his knee, I learned of these five uses for strawberry plants:
1. Treatment for Acne, Blemishes, and Unwanted Freckles:
Mash up 1 cup of strawberries, and then add 2 cups of white vinegar, allowing it to steep on a very low heat for three hours. Strain the pulp and seeds. Massage the remaining liquid on the face and leave overnight. Don't worry, the mixture dries quickly. Wash off in the morning with slightly warm water.
If that remedy did not work: Wet the leaves, mash them thoroughly, into a green paste, and apply them to the blemish.
Another facial recipe for blemishes: Was to mash the strawberries into a juice,
2. Treatment for Sunburns:
Mash 1 cup of strawberries and add 1 cup of cream. Gently dap on the sunburned area. Leave on for 20 minutes, and then rinse with cool water.
3. Treatment for headaches:
Mash the strawberries into a juice and drink. Emile swore by this treatment, which as a child was interesting to me. I wondered about why his headaches always seemed to come around when plenty of fresh strawberries were to be found. I now know, that strawberries contain organic salicylates, which is similar to the active ingredients in aspirin, so this treatment makes sense.
4. Treatment for stomach upsets and infections:
He made a tea, from his library of dried strawberry plant leaves.
5. Treatment for cleaning teeth:
Born in the days before toothpaste was invented, Emile taught me that crushed strawberries, held in the mouth, and swished about aggressively, was the end all treatment for cleaning soiled teeth. The best part, was that you got to swallow the berries when you were done.
Lessons That Came While Wearing A Special Necklace
I watched a clever classmate get to postpone taking a history test because she had a stomachache. Before the test, at recess, this same girl had shared that she didn't have a tummy problem, but that this was a sure-fired way to get more time to study. It worked for her, she got sent home for the day.
Therefore, the next time we had a spelling test that I forgot to prepare for -- I whimpered enough that the teacher sent me home too. Emile immediately sent me back, wearing a special string necklace of rhubarb roots for the entire world to see. Well, let's just say it cured me of that stomachache.
In time, I would learn that rhubarb was more than a dumb looking necklace, a pie filling, or a baby teething chew. I was taught that the stems were good for pies and other delicious desserts. Lessons were also given as to why the roots were part of Emile's standard remedies. Moreover, the most important knowledge of all was not to touch its poisonous leaves. I learned that rhubarb has the following four uses:
1. Treatment for constipation:
In large doses, rhubarb was Emile's standard treatment whenever anyone came to him complaining of "stoppages." This was a simple remedy, one just simply washed off a few rhubarb stalks and ate them, a few hours later, you were cured of what ailed you.
2. Treatment for diarrhea:
Conversely, rhubarb root, in very small doses was what he prescribed for diarrhea. He kept a recycled canning jar of dried powdered rhubarb root, from which he would take about a half teaspoon and mix into a cup of water, then boil, for about ten minutes. The patient would get one "big spoon" (tablespoon) every hour of this nasty and bitter tasting tea -- until they were pronounced "cured" or the cup was empty, whichever came sooner.
3. Treatment for toothaches:
If you had a toothache, Emile would make a small poultice of ground rhubarb root powder, mix it with baking soda, place it in a washed strawberry leaf, and place it up against the offending tooth.
4. Treatment for infected skin:
If we had an infected cut or sore, Emile instructed us to mix his rhubarb powder and water, just enough to make a paste, and cover the affected area with the potion. This remedy did seem to work.
- Don't use these rhubarb folk remedies if you have ulcers, colitis, or other similar problems.
- Also, don't use rhubarb folk treatment is you are pregnant or nursing.
- Nor, should you use rhubarb as a laxative on a daily or extended basis.
- Do not give to children under the age of two.
- Rhubarb ingested may stain your urine red or yellow.
- Fatalities have incurred from using the leaves of rhubarb in any manner!!
Chinese Rhubarb Constipation Remedy
Cajun Black Liquid Health Gold
In the heart of bayou country, Emile didn't have to make his own "cure" when it came to the use of molasses. Most women of the community, kept molasses on the pantry shelf - both as a baking ingredient and as a home cure for a number of aliments. Common uses for molasses (proven to be high in iron) were and still are:
Treatment for Premature and Sickly Infants:
Add ½ teaspoon in the baby's bottle to aid in digestion and help gain health and weight.
Treatment for arthritis:
Emile swore by molasses as a daily "cure" for his aching arthritis. He drank a few ounces of blackstrap molasses every morning. He also mixed it with cranberry juice, drinking at least a glass a day, if he had sore muscles or pains from overdoing his gardening.
Treatment for reducing fever when stricken with chickenpox:
Emile recommended making a catnip tea, sweetened with blackstrap molasses.
Molasses, being a highly concentrated sugar product -- absolutely should not be used by or given to diabetics!
Natural Health and Hygiene - Homemade Dyes
These are simple old time folk remedies and I make no guarantee as to either their effectiveness, or their safety. Information provided is strictly for general knowledge. Consult your physician before deciding, if these remedies or any other such treatments are right for you.
In our modern world, it is tempting to disregard old time folk remedies. However, keep an open mind, many of these folk treatments have been found to absolutely work in scientific studies and have been used for ages in other cultures.