Jamaica: Maroon herbalist breaks down the bush

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From left: common sage, soursop leaves, cerasee, and fever grass or lemongrass (Photos: Norman Thomas)

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Many Jamaicans opt to use alternative medicine to treat both communicable and non-communicable diseases when diagnosed or to use it to complement conventional medicine.

In fact, consultant urologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies Dr Belinda Morrison recently told the Jamaica Observer North & East that 60 per cent of prostate cancer patients are on alternative or complementary medicine. The primary alternative medicine, she said, is guinea hen weed — scientific name Petiveria alliacea.

“It is not only prostate cancer patients. Many like to go the complementary and alternative medicine route even without data that supports it. A lot of patients will use that while they are on conventional medication — sometimes without even informing doctors. It is only if you deliberately ask them they will let you know. A few of them will ask you, but there are patients who will abandon conventional medical advice for the sake of complementary and alternative medicine,” Dr Morrison said.

From left: French thyme, moringa seeds, tuna (cactus), and guinea hen weed

Observer North & East visited the Charles Town Maroon community in Portland where herbalist Paul Atkinson argued that if diseases are detected early and alternative and complementary medicine is solely used, the particular disease can be cured.

He explained the use and value of several herbs and spices below:

Soursop leaves: can be used for calming or repairing damaged nerves. It can also be used to cure jaundice

Cerasee: can be used to purify the blood and especially if one is a chronic smoker. It should be had twice per month

Aloe vera or sinkle bible: can be used to thin the blood especially in the case of heart treatment or rid the body of cold

Dandelion: can be used for persons who suffer with weak bladder

Moringa: can be used to lower blood pressure, to supply the body with iron, cure liver disease, prevent/ treat cancer, stomach ache, fight bacterial diseases

Tuna (cactus): can be used to get rid of blood clots in the body

Guinea hen weed: can be used to cure prostate cancer

Pepper elder: can be used to cure stomach burns

Leaf of life: can be used to rid the body of cold or ulcers. It is also used for hypertension

Search mi heart: can be used for tea, to treat asthma, or rid the body of a cold

Strong back: can be used to energise the body

Vervine: can be used to lower blood pressure or boost blood circulation

Dog blood herb: can be used to reduce menstrual cramps or to stop the menstrual cycle

Common sage: can be used for tea

Fever grass or lemon grass: can be used to season meat or tea

Duppy gun: a root that can be used to energise the body

French thyme: can be used for seasoning

Nutmeg: spice for cooking

Pudding west: can be used to rid the body of cold

“Once you don’t boil two at the same time and drink you will be fine. All of these herbs and plant are in the medicine they give to cure sickness,” Atkinson said.

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