Crown of Thorns  by J. Zane Walley

This plant may very well be the most fearsome looking in the Southwest. To think of falling into it makes you really pucker! It grows as a large bush, absolutely covered in mean, green thorns. The Anglo-settlers gave it the common name Crown of Thorns, or Crucifixion Thorn; the Hispanics called it Corona de Christo or Crown of Christ. The Latin names are Castela emoryi, Castela texana, or Holacantha emoryi. It is also known as Chaparro Amargosa.

Artists use the thick stems of dead plants as jewelry. Cut across the stem, buffed and lacquered to a high gleam, they resemble ivory, inlaid with dark stone. Mystically, especially when considering the common names, the dark inlay often resembles the Virgin Mary wrapped in a flowing veil.

Chaparro Amargosa is a very active inhibitor of intestinal protozoa. Amoebic dysentery and giardiasis respond rapidly to the plant. Use the tincture, 25 to fifty drops every four hours when infected with those mean little gut rippers. It is useful also as a preventative measure. When traveling abroad and subject to travelerís diarrhea, take two full droppers of the tincture, morning, noon, and night before dining.

If you are hiking in the back country and donít want to treat your drinking water with those foul, chemical purification tablets; squirt half a dropper of tincture in a quart of water, shake and drink. If the taste bothers you, squirt in your mouth, and then drink the water.

The Seri Indians of Sonora, Mexico use white burrobrush: (Hymenoclea salsola) and Chaparro Amargosa twigs and stems in several remedies. The twigs (or leaves mixed with twigs), are boiled, and the tea taken to treat skin rashes. Seri also drank the tea to relieve pain in the lungs and trachea, and to reduce swelling.

Historic and modern medical research indicate the following uses for the herb:

CANDIDIASIS: A disorder caused by a common yeast-like fungus found in the mouth, vagina, and rectum, as well as on the outside skin. It is a common cause of thrush in infants and vaginal yeast infections. This condition is known to occur as a result of extended antibiotic therapy.

COLITIS: Colon inflammation, in those with little or no appetite for food (anorexia) and little tone or strength, especially in regards the nervous system or the skeletal muscles (asthenic) COLITIS usually involves the mucus membranes. MUCUSCOLITIS is a type with cramps, periods of constipation, and copious discharge of mucus with feces. This frequently occurs (especially in the feeble) after gastrointestinal infections have been treated with extended antibiotic therapy.

AMEBIASIS: Having an amoebic infection, usually in reference to amoebic dysentery, caused by the nasty parasitic amoeba, Entameba histolitica.