We’re listening to what sounds like some sort of primitive musical instrument.
In fact, it’s the spines of a barrel cactus in the Arizona desert. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. It might not occur to you to play the spines of a cactus plant as if you’re plucking the strings of harp, but it comes naturally to a woman who knows the desert well.
“To me the Sonoran desert is home.”
Jessie Emerson is a registered nurse and a clinical herbalist with the Sierra Alta Herb Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At a base camp in the desert, she teaches people about the healing foods that grow there. One of the most powerful plants in this desert “pharmacy” is the prickly pear.
“This is sort of like the desert’s medicine plant, and food plant. The prickly pear is very high in calcium, potassium, your trace minerals. You can slice it open, and use it as a poultice to draw out any poison, from say a rattlesnake bite, or or scorpion sting. You would have to peel off the tough, waxy top, put it on the bite or sting, leave it on for ten, fifteen minutes, and keep replacing it until it has drawn everything out of it.”
Mesquite trees are also plentiful in the Sonoran desert and they provide a lot more than just a smoky flavoring for barbecue.
“The mesquite flower, the mesquite bean, are high in fiber and very high in protein, so that when the food is digested, the carbohydrates go out in an orderly, easy manner, and the pancreas doesn’t have to work so hard.
As always, when it comes to questions of health and any form of medication, we suggest you first check with your physician. The Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.