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Master Herbal Educator

Our lands are praised for the shimmering waters which surround us and visitors stand in awe of the manifestations of flora and fauna which blossom abundantly throughout the island. But there are depths of  this terrain that may still be overlooked by some. Annette Maynard-Watson has committed herself to unveil the secrets of health that are produced naturally by Barbadian soil.

Though a qualified and award-winning educator in Barbadian schools for over 25 years, Annette also holds the title of Master Herbal Educator due to her extensive research and knowledge in this area.  As a result, the Government of Barbados has selected her to be a member of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, National Task Force on Wellness. In her work, she gives special focus to sexual health, depression and cleansing. 

Many visitors touch down in Barbados in search of rejuvenation and reprise from physical and emotional struggles. While some may believe they need a drink of our world-famous rum, or hours of high-tech cosmetology treatments, Annette has proven that the relief we seek may be blooming right within our reach- or even under our steps. As a herbal educator, she teaches that all plant life carries healing properties to soothe common ailments. In fact, she refers to these plants as “silent doctors”. 

It was roughly fifteen years ago, after a bout of illness that Annette began her research into natural healing. During this time, she made several discoveries that would eventually change the course of her life for the better.   “In Barbados, we have herbs just as powerful as those imported, “ she shared. This slowly revealed the power of alternative medicine on the human mind and body. 

“All fruits and vegetables have medicinal properties,” Annette firmly stated. Among her favourites are the leaves of the mango, pear and soursop plants, which are found in abundance on the island. Annette noted that several cosmetic ailments such as acne and hair loss can be effectively treated with these plants. 

Annette believes that people’s interest in alternative medicine is on the rise in Barbados for both locals and visitors. “People really want to get back to nature,” she noted. The health advocate shared that sometimes people may be hesitant to explore herbal treatments because of the belief that this form of medicine “disrupts the status quo”. Annette is clear that this definitely is not so. As an ambassador for wellness, she believes that alternative medicine is complementary to traditional medicine as their goals are both to heal and restore. 

Additionally, Annette teaches that herbal remedies should be combined with other wellness techniques in order for a person to reap the full benefits of the plants. Of course, exercise is recommended, as well as meditation and time in nature. Like all effective teachers, Annette practices that which she teaches. She has a love of the Barbadian outdoors and carves time to hike and explore the island’s hills, gullies and other highly vegetated areas which are home to many of these “silent doctors”. Through the popularity of her social media, Annette is able to record and share her findings and specifically where these herbs and plants can be found across Barbados. For example, in one of her popular herbal walk videos, Annette begins her journey by the Lion at Gun Hill, a popular landmark in St. George. As the walk begins, Annette discusses and displays the many “silent doctors” found in that immediate area. 

Though this educator’s reprieve may come from immersion in nature,  there are others who see much physical restoration through the incorporation of reflexology and reiki. These are great wellness techniques which can be used along with plant based treatments. While sharing about the multifaceted way in which nature can heal, Annette proposed, “You can look at introducing massages using Barbadian oils. You can have lemongrass oil, you can have coconut oil infused with peppermint oils.”

In a bid to “bring back the kitchen garden”, the herbal educator emphasises that agriculture holds an important place in Barbadian history and should never be overlooked. It is in these kitchen gardens that healing began for generations before. “It is historically attached to the colonial past and just as we cherish tourism, we must similarly cherish agriculture. Crafting and nurturing a kitchen garden is a very healing, economically viable and environmentally friendly project,” she once wrote. 

For visitors to the island, Annette suggests a visit to the National Botanical Gardens where they can see the wide array of herbs that are grown year-round in Barbados and learn of their healing properties from the knowledgeable botanists. Acknowledging that so much information may be overwhelming, Annette further added that when interested in herbal remedies, people should “begin where you are comfortable”. This means gradually introducing herbs into a holistic wellness plan, beginning with herbs such as ginger and turmeric which may have anti-inflammatory properties. 

As with any part of a health journey, Anette asserts that awareness must be paramount. This includes being informed of plants’ scientific names and the names which they may go by in other countries. Without this awareness, there are many herbs and plants which may be inadvertently overlooked and disregarded. Annette shared the example of “cow itch” which is found in many parts of the island. “Look at cow itch; look at the medicinal properties,” she noted. Though this plant is sometimes seen as a pest, there are several benefits that may be derived if used correctly. In fact, there are companies that package and sell it under its scientific name, “mucuna pruriens” for its supposed benefits as an aphrodisiac and as a  treatment of some nervous disorders. 

Ultimately, Annette’s dream is for those who are outside of Barbados to benefit from the wellness byproducts which are organically created by some small businesses in Barbados. Organic deodorants, teas and oils are but a few of the products which are generated from the yield of our own terrain. 

Annette Maynard-Watson is a woman on a mission; a mission of health and wellness within her homeland and for all who come to visit. “I have a deep desire to educate about herbal plants, remedies and our dynamic herbal history,” Annette said about her purpose in this field. Annette shared that her ultimate dream for the herbal industry in Barbados is that local herbal products would be of significant help to a diverse cross-section of people, even those miles away from our shores. She stands firm in the belief that though the island is small in size, its lands are bountiful and are the key to our wellbeing. 

Facts about Annette:

  1. Annette is a qualified Food and Nutrition teacher at a secondary school. 
  2. Annette has a product line called Seeds of Change where customers are able to purchase a wide variety of all-natural products.
  3. The herbal educator is a huge fan of aromatherapy
  4. Annette pens a popular weekly column, Healing Herbs, in a local newspaper.
  5. Annette describes herself as an “incredible cook”.