August 17, 2012

Natural Remedies from Paraguay

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I've always been fascinated with natural cures and living healthy.  Okay, I didn't say I've always LIVED healthy, but I'm interested in it, anyway.  Just don't throw away your prescriptions based on anything you might read here.

Any Paraguayan woman worth her mandioca knows how to take common weeds (referred to as jujos) and treat any infirmity, cure just about any ailment.  These little leaves and roots and seeds--and occasionally fruits--get chopped up, ground up, boiled, dried, you name it.

Sometimes they get mixed in with a thermos full of water, to make the base for terere (cold tea).  A few mint leaves to help with the heat.  Boldo to aid in digestion.

Other times they are added to boiling water and make a sort of medicinal tea. I once had a terrible kidney infection that wouldn't quit, even after months of doctor's visits and antibiotics--which I absolutely despise taking.  Finally, the ladies of my barrio came by with the seeds of the avocado tree, and ground those babies up pretty fine.  Then they added water and boiled until we had a dark liquid, which I drank through a filtered straw (bombilla) to avoid the seeds.  I might add that they really wanted to take these natural remedies by the curandero (aka witch doctor) before they began to "cook," but I insisted that wasn't necessary.  Within a few hours of the first drink, my pain was gone, and after a few days of 3-4 cups per day of this stuff, I was cured for good.  Can't beat that!

And at times, they are eaten straight up, or made into juice, such as this popular treatment for high blood pressure and as a before-bed drink to help you sleep well.  You'll find a lovely little vine climbing all over Paraguay, with the most exotic, detailed flower you've ever seen.  But it's the yellow fruit that makes this mburucuya (boo DOO koo yah) plant so special.  Its name actually means breeding of flies in Guaran√≠, because of its sweet smell.  You probably know it as passion fruit.  It is ready to use when the thick skin starts to wrinkle a bit, and then's when you can mix up a concoction that the locals swear by.

I can also testify that this juice works like a charm, because I drank gallons of it the first few weeks we were in Paraguay.  It was a terribly hot summer, the middle of a long drought, and we were new to this heat.  So the hotter and more faint I felt, the more mburucuya juice I drank, never realizing that the weakness was because my already very low blood pressure was plummeting with each swallow of the yummy yellow elixir. After passing out several times one morning, someone brought a nurse by our house.  The story ends with a lot of IV liquids, the ER doctor telling me my blood pressure at arrival was "incompatible with life," and a strong warning to never again touch a drop of the mburucuya juice.  How sad.

 Wanna see how it's done?  Start with 5 or 6 of these lovely yellow fruits, slicing them in half.  Then scoop out the insides--gooey seeds nestled inside rubbery little fingers--into a blender.    Yeah, it looks pretty gross, a bit like fish eggs, but trust me on this.

Blend it until it's a slushy mush, about a minute or so.  There will still be chunks of seeds in there.  Then pour the contents of the blender into a one-gallon pitcher, through a strainer.

It'll take a little while for this stuff to strain through because of all the seeds, but use a spoon to move it around until what you're left with in the strainer is a moist ball of seeds like the picture below.  You can throw those away.

Add sugar if you'd like, and enough water to fill the pitcher.  I would recommend that you start with a small glass of this at first, because some people find it makes them quite sleepy.  Perfect for hammock time!

1 comment:

  1. That is my FAVORITE juice EVER! I'm going to have to pay attention to how I feel afterwards now! :)


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