March 2015
The Herb Lady

Guayusa

Make a wish. We’ve all done so and, occasionally, had the pleasure of having that wish come true. My relative/friend, Carter Sanders, of Goshen, appears to be doing this at present.

Sanders didn’t attend college following high school. Instead, he joined many others and became a successful farmer. Years later, he developed the urge to obtain a college degree. He gave up farming, attended and graduated from Troy University with a degree in international business. (He didn’t abandon farming completely. He continued to raise cows.)

He chose Spanish as a second language. In order to learn this language properly, he needed someone who spoke Spanish as a native tongue. He expressed this desire to a lady in the international department of Troy University.

She looked up at him and said, "You are in luck. There is a young student from Ecuador coming to Montgomery on an afternoon plane. I suggest you meet him."

Sanders did so and a friendship was formed. Sanders became "Big Brother" to Andres Espinosa while he was learning Spanish.

Andres’s family came to visit in Goshen. Sanders and his mother visited Ecuador. Time passed and Carter developed a strong desire to own and farm property in Ecuador. At first it was a dream. It has now become a reality. Espinosa is now a business associate.

Primarily, Sanders plans to grow cacao (chocolate) trees, which sounds like an ideal endeavor. There is always a great demand for this commodity and it is becoming short in supply.

He will also grow corn and probably raise cows. I hope he plants pink-eyed purple-hull peas, also. I’d hate to think he didn’t have that Southern food to enjoy.

Now, here’s the reason this story belongs in one of my columns. On his property, there is a natural growth of an herb that is gaining popularity here in the United States. The herb is guayusa (also called runa). It’s my opinion that he might as well market this also.

Guayusa is totally new to me. For information, I have searched the Internet. Here’s a bit of the information I have collected.

Ilex guayusa (this is the scientific name) is a member of the holly family and grows in the Amazon area. It is one of the three known caffeinated members of the holly family. The leaves are dried and brewed (for tea) for their stimulating effect. It is sometimes referred to as "The Night Watchman" due to its aid in keeping a body awake. (Oh, brother, could I have used this while working night shifts as a nurse!)

Here is a partial list of the many health benefits I found. It contains theobromine, theophylline, vitamins C and D, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, chromium and caffeine. It also offers all the essential amino acids including leucine which is needed to build nerve tissue.

It will help to balance the pH in the body, blood sugar levels, detoxify blood, improve digestion, improve urinary function, improve digestion, strengthen lungs, aid in elimination, remove cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

I can’t confirm any of this information, but neither can I dispute it. However, if guayusa is safe and provides half of these benefits it is truly a wonderful herb.

I have a box of guayusa tea bags which Sanders provided. I’m trying to develop a taste for it, but, of course, we don’t always drink herb teas for their taste. You can probably find this at your local herb shop.

I miss Sanders, but wish him well. I’ve been asked if I’m going to make a trip to Ecuador. The answer is "No." I might if I were younger.

As always, check with your doctor before taking herbs.

Nadine Johnson can be reached at PO Box 7425, Spanish Fort, AL 36577, by calling 866-570-7302, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..