HAPPY New year. We pray to migrate to a New year from the old with no deficit carry-over, lest an old wine inexcusably find its way into a new bottle. But this is almost always impossible. And that is why, for many people, nothing changes for the better, New Year or no New Year!
A New Year, 2018, unfurled itself before us all last Monday. At mid-night last Sunday, many people were in a church building or a mosque for the cross-over, chanting Bye-bye to Jagbajagba, Bye-bye to Rederede, (Bye-bye to rubbish, Bye-bye to nonsense), implying that 2017 was menacing and crucifying and that 2018 would be soothing and messianic. In this thinking, little or no room is allowed the idea that man alone, and nothing else, attracts and forms his environment, his world, or weaves his carpet of fate. In 2017 were many people not what they were in 2016? In 2018 will they not comfortably be what they were in 2016 and 2017? Time only presents everyone with a book of empty pages on which, literally speaking, to write his or her will.
The health challenges of many people may persist this year unless they change their dietary and other lifestyles. On Monday last week, Christmas Day, President Mohammadu Buhari said he was alive largely because he had been obeying the instructions of his doctors regarding wholesome diet and sound, recuperating sleep. This column advised him about these in a series of about 13 articles, one week after the other, titled JONATHAN Vs BUHARI, THE RICH AND THE POOR, during the Presidential election campaigns of 2015. These articles considered his age (over 72 then), his health, the physical, emotional and psychological toll of the gruesome campaign (his convoy was bombed on one occasion) and, should he be victorious at the polls, the enormity of work that would challenge his brain, ears, eyes, nerves and his prostate gland, as he would struggle to revive a suffocating, mangled, depressed and ruined nation. Whether he saw or read those articles or paid attention to them, I would not know. But we are all living witnesses to the fact that his health deteriorated so terribly that he had to spend months in an hospital abroad at huge costs amid speculations often, that he had died. The President was lucky to have a Vice-President from the Yoruba stock, which is not known to culturally groom traitors, or usurpers, otherwise his Presidency would have been swept away by a palace coup. This year, we can all take a cue from him by eating and drinking wholesomely and by sleeping soundly, supporting the various organs of our bodies with food supplements specific to each one.
This New Year, I, too, have a deficit carry-over from 2017. But this is not attitudinal. I have a whole trash wardrobe of those ones which I will continue to struggle to empty. This carry-over is excusable and, therefore, pardonable in my view. It concerns the medicinal plant called FOUR O’CLOCK FLOWER. I tangentially mentioned it once or twice in 2017, hoping to unwrap it later in a bigger package. It became a deficit column idea only because, in the rush-rush of everyday activities, I could not do to it what I do with many of the dietary supplements or medicinal plants I learn of before I mention them in this column. What do I do? I personally try them out for the conviction that they work.
I remembered Four O’clock Flower about this time in 2017. I was with my departed father in a dream. When he comes around like that, I learn one lesson or the other or gain a handle on a confusing event. Once, I joined in the search for someone who was long missing and presumed dead. One day, I sighted my father in a storey-building. He was on the balcony, smiling at me. Diagonally opposite him on the ground floor was this person. My reading of this dream immediately was that, if this person had passed on, they would be together on the balcony, each flour representing a different sphere or level of existence. And his smile? That meant to me, that “all is well”. Indeed, all was well!
There are too many of these encounters that I cannot mention here for space and time constraints. In the dream of January 2017 in reference, my father and I stood on a sprawling lawn of FOUR O’CLOCK FLOWER. Immediately this flower awakened memories of my boyhood at the Police Barracks, Ibara, Abeokuta in South-western Nigeria. My father was a policeman, who lived in the barracks with his family, as far as I could remember, between 1956 and early 1959. We had lawns which surrounded every dwelling. The Four O’clock flower grew in patches on these lawns and lushfully in flower beds which seperated the grass lawns from the buildings. Why the colonial authorities considered this plant the main decorative or ornamental plant in the barracks I do not know. Every late afternoon, say from about 4p.m, the buds of the flowers came alive, so to say, opening into red or white florets of majestic beauty. Since I saw them again in that dream, I have searched for them with a view to using them as medicine, to see if they actually possess the healing powers ascribed to them. My failure to find them locally led to this column being a 2017 deficit carry-over in 2018.
The Marvel of Peru
This is another name for 4 O’clock flower, which goes by the botanical name Marabilis Jalapa. Marabilis, the Latin word for “wonderful”, probably derives this name from its orange-like sent and the fact that it blooms from four O’clock in the afternoon till early hours the following day, for which reason it came to be known as well as 4 O’clock flower and the Marvel of Peru to which it is believed to be native. Its flower blooms come in red, purple, pink, yellow and white colours. I was more familiar with the red, the colour I saw again in the dream.
The possibility that 4 O’clock flower is medicinal comes from its chemical composition as listed in www.yourhealthremedy.com:
“Chemical analysis of Marvels of Peru shows that it is rich in many active compounds, including flavonoids, tritepenes, proteins, steriods and alkaloids”, it says.
Scientists are particularly interested in a group of “amino acid based protein called Marabilis Antiviral Proteins (MAPs). The aerial parts and root have yielded many chemical substances as well. In the search for anti-inflammatory medicines with no side effects as intestinal and stomach bleeding, some researchers turned to 4 O’clock flower which have been used in Brazilian folklore for centuries in the treatment of inflammatory conditions and painful diseases. Brazilians call this plant Marabilis or Botinia. Petroleum jelly and alcohol extracts of the leaves had proven that the leaves were, indeed, potent against inflammation and dry skin. The researchers, therefore, sought to know if water extracts were equally valuable. Using albino rats in their experiment, they concluded:
“Aqueous extracts of MJL possess significant anti-inflammatory potential. This findings support the use of the extract in traditional system of medicine for the management of inflammatory conditions.”
In many countries, this plant has featured in the traditional treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal system such as dysentery, diarrhoea, abdominal colic and even muscle pain. Its anti-malarial activity has been reported in some journals as have its potentials against viruses, bacteria, candida, fungi. Besides, it is anti-spasmodic and liver protecting. By all means, this is a plant that is good to grow in the home garden. For, sometimes, we are constipated. At such a time, its purgative action is beneficial to our health. Sometimes, too, our bowels run and we need a remedy which can help them slam the brakes. When we do not have Blue vervain, Basil or Activated charcoal right beside us and 4 O’clock flower is in the garden, its antispasmodic activity can stop the rumble and run. And when we are injured? It is good as a wound healer. Its diuretic properties are reported to help cases of dropsy or edema, for which Red Kidney bean pod tea, like Dandelion, is a top notcher. Men who are not tired of flaming should find in this plant an aphrodisiac of value. And diabetes are not left out of the train. so are vaginal discharges and cervical erosion and abscesses.
Some studies suggest that Marabilis may be a healing agent for hives or urticaria, the acute form of which may be induced by anaphylactic shock or angloedena.
Nowadays, a plant is not worth its name in gold if it lacks antioxidant potential and cannot relieve oxidative stress and damage. Marabilis Jalapa is not found wanting in these areas, thanks to its contents of flavonoids and triterpenes which occur in the leaves and other aeral parts. Flavonoids belong to the polyphenol family. Polyphenols keep the heart healthy and are found in all plant foods. Many studies confirm the free radical fighting potentials of flavonoids.
Marabilis Jalapa may have detoxifying effect on the human system. But the organic plant variant may be best positioned to do this. This suggestion is made in view of the potentials Marabilis Jalapa has demonstrated in bio-remediation experiments. These studies attempt to detoxify contaminated soil by growing bio-remediation or chelating plants on them, harvesting these plants, checking the amounts of contaminants they have eaten up and the amounts they left behind in the soil. Of the many bio-remediation experiments in which Marabilis Jalapa has featured, two are mentioned here. The first is a green house experiment with soil contaminated with petroleum products. The setting of the study was shengli oil field in Dongying City, Shandong Province, China. Over a culture period of 127days, Marabilis Jalapa proved a 41.61 to 63.20 percent efficiency in removing hydrocarbons from the test soil. This compared with 19.75 to 27.92 percent for natural process.
In the second experiment, lead and zinc accumulated in the root of Marabilis Jalapa. But when the soil was treated with easily biodegradable chelating agents, only zinc was transported to the shoot. These experiments place Marabilis Jalapa in the family of heavy metal chelators to which also belong herbs such as Chlorella and Cilantro. It reminds me, also, of cabbage which has shown capacity to absorb heavy metals when grown on polluted soil these herbs chelate. This is why, these plants remove heavy metals out of the human system and why their organic brands are better consumed for detoxification and other purposes. Welcome 4 O’clock flower, Marabilis Jalapa, Marvel of Peru, to our world of medicinal plants. I look forward this year to discovering why you were showing to me last year. Was it for some of my health challenges?