Never have I been happier to see one of my perennial herbs making her seasonal comeback. Wandering barefoot outside just after dawn this morning, I was thrilled to see Artemisia vulgaris – the common wormwood – popping up all over the place.
Only yesterday the Thai government issued some serious mosquito warnings: from January 1-March 5 this year there were 9,044 cases and seven deaths associated with Dengue fever. In January there was 5,555 cases – four times the 2018 figures. There are already crisis meetings in various provinces as Thailand contemplates the beginning of the rainy season in the coming weeks and the consequent surge in mosquitoes.
And just this week I met with the leadership of the Karen Department of Health & Welfare, my friend and colleague Saw Diamond Khin, to progress our neem, moringa and banana bud project for my new Pure Thai Naturals Organic Frontiers product line. In the course of those discussions, we talked about what other plants my business needs which the indigenous community could grow organically for me, to enable them to become more financially independent. And we made an appointment for me to return for some hands-in-the-dirt days at the end of April, when the first rains come, to begin planting and preparing the soil.
Yesterday I set aside 20 kgs of freshly harvested organic Phlai root for them to plant – my gift for them to plant as a beginning for a repeatable, seasonal crop which my business will buy back from them. And I pondered what other priority plant would be easy for them to start with.
And here she is!! Already invaded and happily sprouting in my potted aloe vera and my struggling gardenia, strong and healthy, ready for me to start propagating so I can bring some young plants up to the Karen community with me in 6 weeks time.
Artemisia vulgaris has a myriad of medicinal uses, depending on the various parts of the plant. But the magic compounds for mosquito repelling – particularly terpinen-4-ol and dimethyl phthalate – are found in the highly fragrant leaves and flowers. Interestingly, the major research on this herb’s mosquito repelling activity has been carried out by Yangon University (Yangon, Burma), in Shan state, just slightly north of Karen state where the indigenous Karen people we have partnered with live. Our Artemisia will thrive there!You can read their research findings here but, in a nutshell, there was no toxicity or dermal irritation and “the leaf and flower crude extracts as well as essential oil of Artemisia vulgaris exhibited strong larvicidal activity against 3rd and 4th stages of Aedes larvae, while leaf essential oil provided a high level of protection against bites of Aedes mosquitoes.”
As the world’s mosquitoes evolve and climate change increases their habitat range and the length of the dangerous malaria-dengue-fever season, it’s CRITICAL that we improve, expand and make more readily available the excellent natural repellents that Mother Nature provides.
Pure Thai Naturals already produces a highly effective and very popular 100% natural mosquito repellent. It’s incredibly effective and yes, the basis of it is a neem extract made from organic neem leaves that we source from the indigenous Karen community. Yes, we ship it throughout Thailand and worldwide with DHL. Yes, we custom label it for resorts, health retreats and hotels.
This rainy season we will also be launching it also as a beeswax balm, for people who are heavy sweaters and use it during heavy exercise, outdoor work, jungle trekking and extreme outdoor sports.
Next rainy season we will AGAIN expand our range of natural insect repelling products to finally include the amazing and delightfully fragrant Artemisia. It feels GOOD to know that we will also be creating an income stream for some very vulnerable, poor and disenfranchised indigenous people along Thailand’s border with Burma. It feels EVEN BETTER that, next month, I will be showing this indigenous community how to make their low-cost repellents to protect themselves and their children. Malaria prevention is an important strategic priority for the Karen Department of Health & Welfare.
My work begins today – re-potting the Artemisia, striking some new cuttings and sending a little Green Goddess energy to a very important new project.
BlissednBlessed in the work I choose to do.