You Can’t Always Buy What You Want

“But if you try real hard you just might get what you need.”

You don’t always get what you pay for. USA health and health care indices are far behind Cuba despite spending far more per capita.
Adversity and necessity are the mothers of invention and imagination.
>Beginning in 1990, Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, wanted to rescue the Cuban tradition of herbal medicine to provide natural medicines for its healthcare system. The immaculately maintained farm has grown from a modest four crops in its first year to a spectacular 45 crops in 2003; it has continued to grow with a small staff of only 45 workers and with no machinery. (By government mandate, only oxen are permitted for use in the fields.)
The major herbs grown for use by the ministry this season include oregano, calendula, Japanese mint, German chamomile, aloe vera, eucalyptus, banana leaves and turmeric.

The children were proud to show us their medicinal herbal garden.

The local school, Republica Oriental Del Uraguay, at Las Terrazas was vibrant and noisy as children poured out at the end of the day. Daniel Perez, the school principal, explained that his students are taught how to use plants for common problems as part of the school curriculum. The children were proud to show us their medicinal herbal garden. As part of the prevention theme, at-risk children, with problems such as obesity, receive counselling and encouragement from the school’s therapist to change cooking and eating habits at home.

From Birchbark to Chaga


Western red cedar’s known active principal compound, β-thujaplicin, has been studied in atopic dermatitis. White spruce’s known active principal compound, 7-hydroxymatairesinol, has anti-inflammatory activity, while phase II clinical trials have been completed on a birch bark emulsion for the treatment of actinic keratoses, epidermolysis bullosa, and the healing of split thickness graft donor sites. Balsam poplar has been used clinically as an anti-aging remedy. Black spruce bark contains higher amounts of the anti-oxidant trans-resveratrol than red wine. (


In summary our results contribute to the understanding of the molecular mechanism of the clinically proven wound healing effect of birch bark. Our results, together with the proven efficacy, identify birch bark as the first medical plant with a high potential to improve wound healing, a field which urgently needs effective remedies. Moreover, birch bark is a successful example that traditional medicinal plants can become rational drugs. (