Sunday 29 November, 2020

Oddly named medicinal herbs shared by Cayman and Jamaica

Elena an har muma go a grung,
Elena start bawl fi har belly.
Go home Elena! Go home Elena!
Go boil cerasee fi yuh belly.

So goes the first verse of a popular Jamaican folk song, hailing the use of the ceraseee herb for belly ache and pain…

As the product of a traditional Jamaican family, I have long benefited from the health benefits and medicinal uses of herbal remedies, and as a child growing up in Jamaica their colourful names would bring a smile to my face.  

The Caribbean is known for its prolific use of herbal or “bush medicine” to treat everything from mild cuts to severe cancers. This knowledge is often passed down from generation to generation as oral history and is a testament to our robust culture and legacy.

In my role as a chef, writer and explorer, the cultural and culinary connections between Jamaica and the Cayman Islands have never escaped me. It is hard to ignore the herbal traditions shared by both cultures.

Here is a fraction of a long list of oddly named medicinal herbs used by our people to cure sickness.

Dog Blood

Rivina Humilis is the scientific name for Dog Blood. It is usually boiled and consumed as tea for menstrual cramps and any womb related problems.

Search Mi Heart

Rhytidophyllum Tomentosum is the scientific name for Search Mi Heart. It is usually boiled and consumed as tea and used for asthma and congestion.

Jack In Di Bush

Eupatorium Odoratum is the scientific name for Jack In Di Bush. It is usually crushed and used topically for cuts and bruises or inhaled to help with coughs and respiratory issues.

Sinkle Bible

Known globally as Aloe Vera, Sinkle Bible has been used for centuries for hair and skin problems and a host of other ailments.


Momordica Charantia is the scientific name for Cerasee. This is a very popular herb that can be used as a tea for various ailments including stomach pains, constipation, blood cleanser, diabetes and hypertension.

King of Di Forest

Cassia Alata is the scientific name for King Of The Forest. The juice from the leaves is used on the skin for conditions such as ringworms and it also consumed as a tea for asthma, diabetes and hypertension.

Duppy Gun

Ruellia Tuberosa is the scientific name for Duppy Gun. Duppy Gun gets its name from the brown pods that make a popping sound when touched by water. It is generally consumed as a tea for coughs, colds and flu.

Strong Back

Desmodium Incanum is the scientific name for Strong Back. It gets its name from its use to improve sexual performance or give men a “strong back”. It is typically boiled to make a tea and used by both sexes for back pain, muscle soreness etc.

NOTE: We highly recommend that before using any medicinal herb you should consult your healthcare provider or medical doctor for professional advice.

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