Local August 2, 2012 | 12:58 pm

Castro, Chavez unleash “curative” plant craze in Dominican streets

Santo Domingo.- Even though the country’s senior citizens already knew of the curative powers of the plant moringa “la libertad,” it took reports that Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Venezuela president Hugo Chavez use it to deal with ailments including cancers, to spark a feverish interest for the tree that grows wild across Dominican Republic.

The "Moringa oleifera" plant’s real or imagined powers fuels debate among Dominicans, and preempt expectations from the new president whose inaugural will occur in just 15 days.

Local consumption has been so feverish that its branches and flowers are now seen in Santo Domingo’s busiest intersections, where a bundle costs 100 pesos ($2.50 U.S.), and has joined the candies, fruits and an array of merchandise hawked relentlessly in the capital’s streets.

Social networks, interactive radio and TV news and even political pundits tout the benefits attributed to Moringa, introduced in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s.

“I’ve been eating the moringa seed and leaf for three months and the results have been spectacular," the schoolteacher Emigdio de Peña told Efe, and adds to be rid of spots on his legs for over 20 years.

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