We cultivate a garden of medicinal herbs that we planted with seeds that came to us from France: thyme, sage, lavender, etc. At the same time we cultivate the medicinal herbs that grow naturally in our land. Our French sister, Mother Claire-Marie of Divine Mercy, is a self-taught expert in the medicinal and curative properties of plants and herbs.
Where did your interest in herbs come from?
Mother Claire-Marie: "It all started by surprise. We noticed that there were many wild flowers growing in the garden. We started to collect them and make herbal teas. It tasted really good! The visitors were enthusiastic, and so we started cultivating a small garden.
The Syrian soil is known for its medicinal virtues and in particular our region of Qalamoun (the mountainous region between Damascus and Homs that runs along the Lebanese border). If we get a lot of rain in winter, we can ensure a good production in summer. Moreover, our medicinal plants are very strong in perfume and effect, especially our lavender or our Damascus rose. In other regions it is not like that".
How do you use the herbs?
Mother Claire-Marie: "We mix them to make herbal teas. Over the years, we have noticed that some of the mixtures are very effective against many diseases, such as diabetes for example. We also infuse our herbs to make vinegar or oil; and from this oil, we make a very effective cream against all kinds of wounds and inflammations. We also mix some herbs with alcohol or aloe vera. This last mixture is very effective against cancer.
Why do they call you 'doctor'?
Mother Claire-Marie: "People come from the village, sometimes even from Damascus, for our products. We have many testimonies of people who have obtained good results, even for serious diseases, certain types of cancer and especially for all kinds of wounds. Usually people come to us because they were not satisfied with the results of traditional medicine. Also our families in Europe ask us for products that we send them. They call us "doctor" now; it's funny because we started by improvising. But we have studied a lot of books on the subject and the villagers give us valuable information on how their ancestors used herbal medicine in this area.