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No other plant is more closely associated with San Lazaro Babalú-Ayé  than cundeamor

Both the leaves and fruits of the cundeamor have a long and well-documented history as a medicinal herb. In Cuba, both Momordica charantia and Momordica balsamica are called cundeamor. It was traditionally used as a salve for wounds and a cure for gastritis, colitis, and other digestive disorders. However, it was also used to remedy eczema, herpes, and even leprosy. Indigenous knowledge systems in Asia and other parts of Latin America suggest that it is useful for fighting malaria and diabetes. In fact, recent research has shown that it has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties, and there are currently clinical trials testing its effectiveness against HIV. Similarly, some evidence points to cundeamor as a strong regulator of the immune system, and there are researchers looking at it as an aid to cancer patients. 

Given San Lazaro long association with skin disorders and infectious diseases, it is no wonder that an herbal remedy for these ills would be used again and again in his rituals.
 
Herbs have been used from the beginning of time.  Animals instinctively learned to use different plants for their own healing and strengthening. Man has also used herbs to treat his illnesses for thousands of years and the usage of herbs by humans has been documented in all major ancient civilizations.  Many people, throughout the world, still continue to use herbs to benefit their lives.  Herbalists believe that herbs put the body in tune with nature and scientific studies are being done into the folklore of herbal uses to help develop new therapeutic medicines
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