J’cans urges caution when using medicinal plants and herbs

For centuries, Jamaicans, especially in rural communities, have used herbal remedies to maintain health and prevent disease. However, it is necessary to be careful when administering herbal medicines and to obtain expert advice in herbal medicine.

Chelsea Stephenson, research officer of the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), made the comments during a conference titled “Back to Roots: Herbs and Healing in Jamaica”.

The lecture, which was recently broadcast on the ACIJ/JMB YouTube channel, explored traditional medicine passed down from West African ancestors, as well as common herbs that exist in Jamaica and their medicinal uses.

Stephenson, who did a study on herbal medicines, urged Jamaicans to be careful when using medicinal plants and herbs.

“Don’t just pick any plant and use it. You will find that many plants are poisonous, and even plants that can be used for medicinal purposes if not properly prepared or combined with the correct plants, can also be harmful to you,” he said. she stated.

The research officer said a number of medicinal plants are known by different names in various communities in Jamaica.

“Many of these plants are known by different names; even within a community, a plant can have multiple names and two different plants can have the same name,” she said.

She said plants, such as dandelion and guinea fowl, are often dried to extend their shelf life.

In addition, Ms Stephenson said plants such as peppermint, cerasee, fever grass also known as lemongrass “can be picked, washed and boiled for tea immediately”.

Ms Stephenson, who said she consulted local plant experts during her research, noted that it was important to wash the plants well before using them.

“They grow outdoors in the wild and you never know what they might come in contact with, so never just pick a plant and use it. Wash thoroughly before use,” she advised.

The mandate of ACIJ/JMB is to research, document and disseminate information on African heritage and its impact on Jamaican culture. The division highlights the contribution of African cultural retentions to Jamaican belief systems in instilling awareness and appreciation of African culture as part of Jamaican heritage.

ACIJ/JMB is a division of the Institute of Jamaica, an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Alvin J. Chase