I was born in Venezuela. So were my parents & all of my abuelxs. My blood runs from the lake of Maracaibo to the Andes mountains all the way through to the Caribbean coast. I am proud to carry this lineage & honor where I come from.
Many towns in my country are named after our ancestral plants. This flower is cumaná (Turnera ulmifolia), a close relative of the popular herb damiana. Cumaná is also the capital of the state of Sucre in Venezuela--where my father currently resides--and its namesake is this humble flower.
This shrub is commonly planted in FL as an ornamental or in butterfly gardens because it blooms pretty much year round. However, I feel like here it is not well known for its medicinal actions, which are uniquely different from damiana.
The plant is a soothing demulcent and anti-inflammatory. It has been traditionally used in the tropics for healing GI mucosa and preventing ulcers. This wisdom has now been confirmed by a study, where they tested the effects of the infusion of cumaná on mice.
In its native habitat it is also used as a cure-all for colds & flu and skin conditions. Recent laboratory evidence suggests that an extract of the plant may enhance the effects of antibiotics in the treatment of antibiotic resistant MRSA.
For me this is the future of medicine. A time when botanicals are used in combination with pharmaceuticals and medical treatments to increase their efficacy & help reduce adverse effects. Remembering our traditional medicine as science and medical technologies continue to expand and grow.