For those who like to experiment with and enjoy a holistic way of healing, Long Island has just about all the natural medicinal plants, fresh oxygen, and local produce you need to set you and your body straight. Bush medicine has been a Bahamian tradition for hundreds of years to treat and prevent physical and mental illness for people of all ages. Just about every plant you find on Long Island has some medicinal property and use. You can find over 30 medicinal plants on the Ocean Sound property around the beach house.
Bahamians have found all these remedies to be effective but feel free to consult your doctor or practitioner about these holistic treatments if you are interested in trying them.
Some medicinal plants of interest for certain ailments are:
Bay Lavender: Boil leaves and drink to relieve asthma. Or crush dry leaves and smoke in tobacco pipe.
Life Leaf: Squeeze liquid from leaves and steam, stew with butter, a slice of onion, a little sugar (optional), and juice from sour lime.
Lime: Eat two limes a day for about seven days.
Thistle: Boil leaves and flowers and drink.
Ironwood Berry: Boil bark, make into a tea and drink to get rid of backache.
Love Vine: Slightly crush and tie around back to relieve backache. Boil and drink as tea every morning.
Madeira Bark: Steep in boiling water and drink.
High Blood Pressure
Breadfruit: Boil dry leaves and drink. This will act on the blood and reduce the pressure.
Prickly Pear: Cut leaf of the prickly pear in half. Steep in water and use as a drink.
Sour Sop: Steep about thirteen leaves in boiling water and drink.
Sugar Apple: Boil or steep leaves and take to reduce high blood pressure.
White Sailor’s Cap (Periwinkle): Boil leaves and flowers and use internally-this reduces hypertension.
Fig: Cut figs into sections and steep in warm water for 15 minutes. Drink resultant liquid.
Snake Root: Boil leaves and drink daily.
Noni: (Also good for ulcers, arthritis, general health.) Boil or steep leaves. Eat fruit when white (very bitter, but usually bitter things are best for you)
Aloe: Slit the leaf or remove inside gel and steep over night in water. Drink a small cup every morning.
Cerasee: Squeeze the juice from three mature fruits and consume. Boil leaves and drink as tea.
Jack Ma Da: Boil leaves, flowers, stem and drink.
Plantain Bush: Boil leaves and tassel, strain and drink.
Pound Cake Bush: Boil leaves and drink as tea.
Tamarind: Boil leaves and drink as tea.
White Sailor’s Cap: Boil leaves and flowers and drink. (Excellent cure)
Aloe: Remove outer skin from leaf, cut a portion of the inner section into pieces and drink.
Bay Geranium: Boil leaves and drink or beat leaves, steep in boiling water and drink.
Cascarilla Bark: Boil leaves and use as tonic.
Dill Seed: Boil and drink as tea.
Papaya: Also good for ulcers. Dilute milk from green papaya fruit in water and drink. Eat fruit.
Itches, Stings, Prickly Heat
Bay Cedar: Boil and use as a bath to get rid of an itch.
Lime: Cut into sections and rub on irritated areas.
Love Vine: Boil and use as a skin bath for itches and prickly heat.
Rooster’s Comb: Boil and use to bathe prickly heat.
White Sage: Crush leaves and rub on affected area. In case of a wasp bite, rub sage leaves on area immediately after to prevent swelling. To get rid of prickly heat, boil the sage and use as a bath.
White Sailor’s Cap: Boil and drink
Onion: Place slices of onion on chest to relieve lung congestion.
Pigeon Peas: Boil leaves and use as a bath for children to rid of measles.
Salve Bush: Boil bush and use as a bath.
White Sage: Boil and use as a bath for children when they have had the measles for three days.
Bay Cedar: Boil leaves and use as a gargle.
Canker Berries: Boil berries with leaves and use as a gargle.
Coconut: Make milk and immature jelly into a soothing gruel as a cure for soar throat.
Rock Bush: Boil leaves and use as a gargle.
Canker Berries: Mash some of the ripe berries, put them in a clean piece of material, and use to clean the thrush from a child’s mouth.
Sapodilla: Grate green fruit, put into a clean piece of cloth and clean thrush.
Wild Pine: Remove the heart from the wild pine. Wash and steep it. Use the resultant liquid to clean children’s throats.
Periwinkle: Boil leaves, make into a tea and drink.
Jumbey: Boil leaves, add sugar and lime juice with butter and a little sugar (optional).
Life Leaf: Squeeze liquid from the leaves, stew with butter.
Virility in Men:
Boil various bushes together and strain. Add a little sugar, brandy, and evaporated milk. Pour in a bottle and allow to steep for about two or three weeks before drinking. This tonic is highly recommended for men as it builds up energy in the body. The Love Vine may be used independently to prevent sexual weakness. Beat the vine and boil into thick tea.
Pumpkin Seeds: Dry pumpkin seeds. Remove outer layer and discard. Eat the seeds.
Monkey Fiddle: Cut leaves in sections and apply the milk-like juice to the wart. Scrub thoroughly and the wart will come off clean.
Thistle: The yellow substance that is exuded from the stem is applied to warts to remove them.
Lime: Steep lime in vinegar and rub on wart.
Source: “Bush Medicine In Bahamian Folk Tradition” By Martha Hanna-Smith. Dodd Printers, Miami, FL, 2005.