Guaco Herb: 5 Benefits of This Invasive Weed

Guaco herb is the name of many climbing vines in the Mikania genus which is native to Central and South America and the Caribbean. 

But, in Jamaica Guaco refers to one particular vine -Mikania micrantha. It is also called Quaco bush by some locals.

Jamaican Guaco herb is a member of the Asteraceae plant family. 

guaco herb aka jamaican quaco bush
Jamaican Guaco

Guaco Herb Other Names

Other names used for this plant in the Caribbean are bitter vine, snake vine, bitter bush or bitter vine.

In Central and South America local names include, bejuco, and huaco. 

However, the Jamaican Quaco bush botanical name is Mikania micrantha. And there are some interesting facts associated with Mikania guaco. 

For example, the vine poses a serious threat to the environment because it grows so fast.

In fact. In some areas people call it  “mile a minute” because of how quickly the vine grows.

Not only that, but the bush wraps around nearby plants. And if left alone, It will eventually kill them.

Crops such as coconut, banana, cocoa are susceptible to being smothered by the invasive weed.

So, this herb is listed among the top 100 most invasive weeds in the world. But the plant does have benefits.

Guaco Herb Benefits

Despite its destructive tendencies, Guaco herb does offer some benefits. So, what Is Guaco herb good for?  

Well In Jamaica Quaco bush is one of the best known home remedies for stopping diarrhea and soothing itchy skin.

In South and Central America the vine is used to prevent and treat snake bites. 

Legend has it that Native Americans would crush and scatter guaco leaves around their sleeping areas to keep snakes away.

In Brazil the herb is used to suppress coughs, expel mucus, open up  the airways and treat other upper respiratory problems.

Jamaican Quaco Uses

For a long time, Guaco has been used to treat different ailments in Jamaica.

How to use Quaco bush? The herb is used in three ways in Jamaica. That is to make herbal tea, to make juice or as a bath especially for children with eczema. 

Guaco Tea. The leaves and stems are boiled and sweetened. If you use fresh Quaco leaves to make it, the tea tastes extremely bitter.

But drinking Guaco tea reportedly helps suppress coughs and open up the the bronchial tubes to make it easier to breathe.

Guaco Juice. Leaves are juiced and a pinch of salt added. This mixture is taken in doses of tablespoons to relieve diarrhea. Quaco bush juice is also a common Jamaican cold remedy too.

Guaco Baths: Crush some plants leaves and place them in a large container. Add water and let it sit for a while. Remove the leaves and pour the liquid in a bath and use it to bathe children who have eczema or other skin irritation.

Interesting Guaco Herb Facts

Facts About Quaco
Environmental ThreatThe vine grows so rapidly it can destroy surrounding vegetation.
AromaStrong wood smell. The smells reportedly drives away snakes.
TasteExtremely bitter taste. Thats’s the reason some call it bitter vine.
UsesUses to cure for diarrhea and upset stomach. Used on the skin to treat eczema.
Medicinal PotentialChemical components identified by scientific studies the destructive vines potential for being used as medicine.

Quaco Health Benefits

Researchers identified many useful compounds in Mikania Guaco. For example, one study identified 42 potentially useful chemical compounds in the plant.

And a more recent examination of Mikania micrantha identified 14 phenolic compounds that confirm that the plant has potential to be used for health purposes. 

The findings suggest that Mikania Guaco could one day be used commercially to treat the Flu, Bronchitis, Coughs, Diarrhea and Headaches.

However, this herb has been used as a traditional medicine for opening up constricted airways for a long time. 

But fourteen healthy human volunteers took part in another of these studies. The aim was to determine whether the herb is useful as a bronchodilator.  

The subjects were given a syrup made from Quaco extracts. The  results showed that by itself quaco syrup was not an effective bronchodilator.

Related: You May Also Like Guinea Hen Weed

Guaco Herb Side Effects

A number of side effects have been reported by people who use Guaco products of a long period of time. These side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and increased heart rate.

Researchers also reports that using Guaco bush caused a significant decrease in the blood pressure of pregnant patients with high blood pressure.

One experiment using pregnant rats reported lower weight gain in test subjects. But there are no human study data available to back this up.

Therefore, if you are pregnant it may be wise to avoid using Guaco products altogether.

Where To Buy Guaco

Products and extracts from  guaco herb can be bought at many local health food stores. They are also available for purchase from online marketplaces like Etsy.Com and Amazon.


While its Guaco herb and its extracts appear to have the potential to offer some health benefits, more research needs to be done to confirm this.

In the meantime there doesn’t appear to be any real danger in the occasional use of Guaco herbal products. 

However, keep in mind that herbal products are not regulated by the FDA. Therefore they should not be used for medicinal purposes without the close supervision of your medical provider.

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only. Nothing on this site should be viewed as medical advice. Please cousult with a professional healthcare provider about matters relating to your medical care.


  1. Avatar photo Marcia Battiste says:

    Hi Joy, would love to speak with you to share my passion for natural leaves and get some advice and guidance from you.

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