Thursday 22 October, 2020

Indigenous herbal medicines of Saint Lucia

Some call it bush medicine but our grandparents call it by the proper name: good health.

Traditionally, herbs have been used to cure ailments of all kinds including colds and flus to more serious issues like infections. The best thing about using herbs is apart from curing our illnesses, they are inexpensive. Here are a few traditional medicines our ancestors used to treat everyday maladies.

Pepper leaf

Pepper leaf was traditionally used to treat carbuncles which are abscesses containing puss that grow on different parts of the body. The pepper leaf would be heated with some soft candle and placed on top of the abscess. It is said that the leaf draws out the impurities of the carbuncle and causes it to burst and dry out.

Glory Cider

Back in the old days this plant grew everywhere and was used to treat skin rashes, acne, or any skin irritations. The leaves were crushed in the water and allowed to steep until a green slimy solution is formed. You would then shower with it, rubbing the leaves on the affected area.

Soursop Leaf

Drinking a tea made with the leaves is said to reduce fever, help cure urinary tract problems, lower blood pressure, treat insomnia, and regulate the nervous system. A poultice made from the crushed leaves relieves skin issues and reduces swelling. One of the best teas I have ever tasted.

Chini Twef

This is a mixture of herbs, spices, and caterpillars soaked in white rum used to treat tummy aches and cramps. One teaspoon gets the job done.

Shadow Beni

The plant is used in traditional medicines for fevers and chills, vomiting, and diarrhea. The leaves and roots are boiled and the water drunk for pneumonia, flu, diabetes, and constipation.


Widely known as chichima, turmeric was used for chest pains and inflammation.

Shining Bush

Considered anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anticancer, shining bush is said to help lower cholesterol, suppress cough, and relieve asthma-related symptoms.

Other traditional remedies that were used in the old days include garlic and clove oil for toothache, sugar water for ‘bless’ (internal injuries), lime or molasses and white rum for sore throat and flu, tamarind juice for pressure, and burnt bread in water or bud of green fig in water to treat diarrhea.

Do you remember any other indigenous forms of medicine you were exposed to as a child?

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