Bahamian-Bush-Medicine

Bahamian-Bush-Medicine is written by Mrs. Leslie Higgs. She gathered all this information together and presented it in a beautiful format. Thanks to my Mom for purchasing this booklet and thanks to Mrs. Higgs. The information given here has been obtained mainly from conversations that Mrs. Higgs had with fellow Bahamians.

The wisdom of the body shows itself at work in many ways. For instance, centuries before many valuable drugs were scientifically discovered, the same drugs were being instinctively used by native peoples. These primitive people found them simply by following the cravings of their bodies.

Hundreds of years ago, South American natives and North American Indians sucked willow bark for relief from aching joints.

Willow bark contains the sallicylate which gives aspirin its pain killing properties.

Medicine men of South American tribes used the bark of the cinchona tree to ease fever. Today it is known as quinine.

They also used the fox glove plant – digitalis for certain ills. Today, digitalis, effectively treats certain types of heart ailment.

Nature still holds mysteries for men to solve.

Now to some Bahamian-Bush-Medicine taken from this wonderful and informing book.

The following paragraph written by Mrs. Higgs was so interesting to me, I had to copy it, in it’s entirety for you to get the full effect. By the way, my Mom knew Mrs. Higgs. I may have met her when I was very young, but I don’t remember.

‘It is an old Bahamian belief that there is hidden danger in “Doctor Medicine”. In many cases the real purpose of visiting a doctor is to “get soun”, (have a stethoscopic examination) for to these folk the stethoscope is almost a magical instrument with strange curative powers. The medicine, if prescribed without “sounin”, if taken at all, must be used with due caution. For instance, if one is “under doctor medicine” it is considered unwise to bathe your skin for this might prove fatal. Equally foolhardy would be washing your hair. Night “draf” is to be avoided at all times, but it would be the utmost folly to expose oneself to this danger while under doctor’s medicines. There is an interesting widespread belief, held by supposedly intelligent Bahamians, “never use doctor medicine in treating jaundice, for if you do the jaundice, will ‘bust inside you’ and kill you.” There are individuals ready to swear that they have known this to happen.

Bahamian-Bush-Medicine, trees and plants that have been used medicinally over the years are.

Breadfruit Tree:

Steep the leaves from the Breadfruit in boiling water and use as a beverage in place of water to reduce a case of high blood pressure.

Soursop Leaves:

The leaves from the Soursop are even more effective when made into a tea.

Soursop Leaves

The leaves from the Soursop are even more effective when made into a tea.

I remember having soursop icream.  Mmmm!

Aloe Vera

This jelly-like substance from the leaf would be applied to a burn, to relieve the pain and the redness of the skin.

Aloe today is considered a miracle plant. Its value in beauty preparations is apparent in the ready sale of aloe products.

Aloe was brought to South Florida by early settlers from the Bahamas. It was given the name of “Belly Ache” plant and it was planted in every yard for its value in relieving sunburn, mosquitoe bites and other burns.

The benefits of aloe vera gel are very well known in North America as well as in Bahamian Bush Medicine.

It is very soothing for an upset stomach, hence the name "Belly Ache" plant in the Bahamas.

Other names like:

Jackmada

Jumbey

Cerasee

Fowlfoot

Grannybush

Pound-cake Bush

Mrs. Higgs wrote 'I have come to the conclusion, concerning Bahamian-bush-medicine, that if several hundred people have been using certain plants for certain ailments over a period of centuries, then the plants possibly do cure the maladies for which they are recommended.'

More Bahamian-Bush-Medicine that I have found....

The Gumbolimbo Tree

There is the Gumbolimbo Tree. A fascinating tree, known in the Bahamas as the Gamalamee or Kamalamee.


Here is a photo of the Gumbolimbo Tree and one of the peeling bark taken from my cousin's beautiful tropical garden in the Florida Keys. She takes a lot of pride in her 'native' tropical garden.

The bark on the Gumbolimbo Tree is always peeling.

It has been nicknamed "The Tourist Tree" in South Florida because it is red and peeling all the time.

Nassau holds many happy memories for me.

These remedies are probably known to some of you, as is the case with a large segment of the population of the Bahamas, especially among the individuals who live on the Family Islands.

Family Islands:

The term ‘Family Islands’ refers to those islands other than New Providence, where Nassau, the capital city, is situated.

I always referred to the Family Islands as the Out Islands and have spent many hours enjoying pink sand beaches and sparkling blue ocean. The Bahamian Islands are scattered over 4,400 square miles and numbering 28 major islands and over 3,000 cays.

Many years will pass before the widespread and well established use of plants in medicine will be forgotten in the Bahamas.

Children on the Family Islands are still well aware of their usage.

Avocado Tree

When I was a child, my Mom used to give me avocado and I really was not fond of it. As I grew older, it grew on me.

The avocado has a high fat content, causing a lot of people not wanting to try it but the beneficial ingredients far out way this.

The beneficial ingredients in an avocado are lipase enzymes and vitamin E. Also carotenoids, B-complex and C vitamins. Numerous minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorus are also present.

I'm not sure if the avocado was used in Bahamian-Bush-Medicine, but it is loaded with nutrition.

Tamarind Tree

The Tamarind Tree and fruit has always been used in Indian, Southeast Asian and Mexican cooking as well as in medicine.

It is used for stomach and intestinal discomforts.

Another memory was when I was very young in Nassau, I remember breaking open the Tamarind Fruit to taste it.

It was sooooo sour! But I liked it!

I'm happy to share another memory of being in Nassau.

If any of my readers have stories to share about Bahamian-Bush- Medicine, please let me know by using my contact form.

Cerasee Plant

I have had many people email me and ask about Cerasee Tea. This is a Jamaican bush, which grows wild and the tea that is made from it is extremely bitter. Remember the taste of bitter is what your liver loves and is an excellent blood cleanser.

Cerasee Tea is also used by the Jamaicans for digestive disorders and to detoxify the blood.

It's sometimes used in cooking recipes, such as a sauce to put over chicken or other meat dishes. They mix leaves, ground peanuts and honey together. Sounds good to me!

I hope you are learning more each time you read my page on Bahamian-Bush-Medicine.


Kalanchoe Pinnata or Life Leaf

Another Bahamian-Bush-Medicine plant is Life Leaf. Bahamians have uses for this plant. It is mostly used for Asthma or shortness of breath. 

The leaves (from a cultivated plant) can be crushed, soaked over night in water.  The next morning this 'tea' can be taken to treat heartburn.  It is also used as an antibacterial to be applied to bruises or skin sores.

Use it is a poultice containing mashed and ground fresh leaves for headaches. 

The juice from the mashed and ground leaves and mixed with a little salt is good bronchitis or ulcers.

You can see why this plant is known as the Life Leaf Plant.

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