Jamaica's Medicinal Herbs

Written by allegra oxborough
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Jamaica's Medicinal Herbs
(Cannabis image by William Dillingham from Fotolia.com)

Traditional Jamaican medicine is referred to as "bush medicine." African slaves introduced some herbs used in bush medicine; others are native to Jamaica. African slaves used prior knowledge and access to new herbs to create remedies for all illnesses by making balms and teas. "Bush tea," for example, is a term for the combination of many herbs with breadfruit leaves. The recipe for bush tea varies based on what is available and who is making it and is used to this day to treat a slew of common ailments.

Fever Grass

Fever grass, known by various names in multiple countries, comes from the Cymbopogon citratus plant. Fever grass is used as an expectorant, an analgesic and for ailments like rheumatism and arthritis.

Pepper Elder

Pepper elder is used to treat abdominal issues like diarrhoea. It is also used to treat flu symptoms like coughing and fever.


The botanic name of cerasee is Momordica charantia and it is used to treat ailments stemming from illnesses in the blood. Cerasee is also used to ease stomach ailments and diabetes.


Odoratum is the botanic name for jack-in-the-bush, which is used in Jamaica and around the world to treat skin ailments and inflammation.


Quassia is used as an anti-tumour cure and a way to stimulate the nervous system. Quassia is also used as an enema ingredient to treat abdominal issues.


Commonly known as marijuana, ganja is used as an analgesic, meaning it numbs physical pain. Ganja is also used as a laxative in Jamaican bush medicine.

Tuna Cactus

Tuna cactus is used to treat dandruff and other scalp conditions. Similar to ganja, it is also used to calm the nerves and to treat chronic pain.

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