As a child growing up in St. Croix, I rarely recall being ill. Physically, not only did we get our exercise in with routine beach days and playing outside for hours in dirt hills when the highway was being constructed, but also the fruit growing on the trees around us provided the nutrients needed for energy while simultaneously building our immune systems. Of course when you’re young boosting immunity isn’t a priority, however getting the purpliest sea grapes, biggest mango, sweetest jojo, and ripest carambola is life! At our disposal, right in front of us out of the earth grew all these “snacks” that kept us outside for hours allowing us more play time, so we didn’t have to run back to the house when we got hungry. What convenience!
Our next healing plant covered in this series is the carambola, also known as a star fruit. Averrhoa carambola is a species of tree that yields a delicious fruit year-round here on the island. It is low in calories but packed with vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. This fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, rich in vitamin C, β‐carotene, and gallic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, potassium, and phosphorous. They contain a high amount of fiber and low in calories which may aid in controlling blood sugar. The insoluble fibers inhibit the activity of a certain enzyme that delays the release of glucose from starch, contributing to glucose homeostasis. The plant leaves, fruits, and roots have a predominant content of phytochemicals such as saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, and pyrogallic steroids.
Carambolas are considered to have a number of beneficial health advantages. In addition to being an antioxidant and hypoglycemic, they are also hypotensive, hypocholesterolemic, anti‐inflammatory, anti‐infective, antitumor, and have immune‐boosting effects. Averrhoa carambola is commonly used for medicinal purposes in many cultures to treat clinical conditions such as fever, cough, diarrhea, chronic headache, inflammatory skin disorders (eczema), fungal skin infections, and bleeding hemorrhoids. Juicing carambola fruit or tea prepared from carambola root are used to lower high blood sugar levels, ringworm and chickenpox are treated by externally applying crushed leaves to the infection site, gastritis is treated with a decoction of carambola leaves, and studies show that the leaves extracts improve blood circulation averting the rise in blood pressure. It’s no wonder our ancestor’s quality of health looked very different than what we are witnessing today. They understood that the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations!
It's amazing what wealth of knowledge our elders hold when it comes to vegetation. I encourage you to sit with them as they cultivate the soil of your soul and teach you from what was passed down throughout the generations. The seed’s they are willing to share are valuable!