31 Jamaican Medicinal Plants With Science Backed Benefits

Traditional Jamaican medicine involves the use of many different plants. Most of these plants grow wild on the island. Not only that but, many are plants endemic to Jamaica.

Consuming Jamaican bush tea is a quick and easy way for natives to get the benefits of these medicinal plants.

The bush teas are made from trees, shrubs, vines or herbs. Infact, any section of a plant may be used to make the infusion.

Why are Jamaican herbs and spices such an important part of Jamaican society?

jamaican search mi heart herb in bloom
Endemic Jamaican Medicinal Plant

It all goes back to the Arawak indians who were the first settlers on the Island. The Arawaks were cultivators who grew a variety of crops.

They used many of the plants and herbs they grew for cooking. But some had recreational uses. Still others were used as herbal remedies.

That’s how the “love affair” with Jamaican medcinal plants began.

Medicinal Plants Uses

Today the island’s plants and herbs still play an important role in Jamaican society. This is most noticeable in Jamaican medicine and the island’s food.

Many Jamaican medicinal herbs have been used for centuries. Jamaican natives use medicinal plants as remedies for a number of common ailments.

Teas made from these plants are consumed to relieve discomfort caused by colds, the flu, fevers. high blood pressure, diabetes, and headaches. 

Some plants like Guinea hen weed and Soursop leaves are taken to treat serious illnesses such as cancer.

Jamaican Medicinal Plants Uses

  1. Shorten Cold and Flu
  2. Help Respiratory problems
  3. Improve Digestive issues
  4. Increase Energy Levels
  5. Manage Blood pressure
  6. Relieve Pain
  7. Cleanse and Detox
  8. Contribute to Weightloss

More recently some studies have confirmed that some of those Jamaican spices and herbs do in fact, have medicinal properties. However, a lot  more studies need to be done.

In the meantime, here is a list of Jamaican herbs, their botanical names and their uses.

But first you may recognize that many of these medicinal plants are known by different names in other places. Simply because the natives gave them Jamaican names.

List of Medicinal Plants

Here is a list of Jamaican medicinal plants. This post will help you make the connection between the names used by Jamaican locals and other names the plants are known by.

Uses for Jamaican Medicinal plants seem to naturally fall into specific categories based on what they are being used for.

I have tried to classify them by the ailments they are used to treat:

1. Jamaican Plants For Cold and Flu

Below is a list of 7 time tested cold bush plants from Jamaica. And the one common ingredient used with these plants is honey.

It is the sweetener that’s used most often.

Some records show that some of these herbs have been used as Jamaican medicine since the 1700s.

  • Lime leaf  (Citrus aurantiifolia) Lime leaves-or other citrus leaves or fruit-are boiled and sweetened with honey for shortening the duration of colds.
  • Leaf of Life (Bryophyllum pinnatum) leaves and stems boiled for about 5 minutes. Juicing the raw leaves and stems of the Leaf of Life herb is the most common method used for treating coughs and upper respiratory issues.
  • Fever Grass  (Cymbogopon citratus) Blades and stalks of the grass are cut into about 4 inch lengths, bruised and then boiled for between. Warm fever grass tea is used to treat fevers and colds.

It is an especially popular medicinal plant for treating children who have a fever.

  • Jamaican mint bush (Satureja Viminea) nausea, vomiting, and headaches.  Also used for colds and fevers.
  • Eucalyptus– (Eucalyptus cinerea) Tea is made by boiling the plant’s leaves for approximately 10 minutes.  This is used to treat colds and congestion.
  • Ginger  (Zingiber officinale) Pieces of ginger root are often boiled with other herbs such as garlic. The tea is always sweetened with honey.
  • Jamaican Black Mint (Mentha viridis) is a subcategory of Spearmint used to make tea to cure stomach aches, colds, and vomiting since the 1700s.

2. Jamaican Plants For Respiratory Ailments

Asthma is the most common respiratory ailments that affect the natives.  A number of local plants are used as medicine to relieve symptoms of asthma.

These same teas are often used to treat bronchitis and coughs as well.

  • Spirit weed l (Eryngium foetidum)  This entire plant except for the root of the plant makes a herbal tea to relieve symptoms associated with pneumonia.
  • Trumpet tree leaves (Cecropia peltata) are boiled and taken as a cough suppressant or gargle for sore throat.
  • Asthma weed  (Erigeron bonariensis). Drinking this bush tea is believed to help alleviate asthma and dengue fever symptoms.
  • Jack ‘na Bush ( Chromolaena odorata) is translated Jack in the bush. This is an invasive weed that is proven to have its curative properties. Jack in the bush tea is used to alleviate discomfort from upper respiratory infection.
  • John charles  (HYPTIS VERTICILLATA) Tea made from dried leaves is used to treat bronchitis. It is used for soothing coughs, relieving symptoms of the common cold and sinus infections.

3. Medicinal Plants For Digestion

  • Quaco bush  (mikania) is one bitter tasting guaco herb. Both juice and tea used for treating diarrhea. 
  • Pimento (Pimenta dioica) tea made with pimento leaves is taken to alleviate symptoms of indigestion and constipation.
  • Bissy (Cola acuminata ) Bissy tea is used to treat indigestion, vomiting and other digestive issues. Bissy tea is also taken to counteract  food poisoning.
  • Peppermint  ( Mentha piperita)  Peppermint tea is a popular tea for relieving, gas, bloating and indigestion.
  • Dead and wake (Mimosa pudica) This tea is consumed for relieving diarrhea and other stomach related issued.

4. Immune Boosting Plants From Jamaica

 However, a lot  more studies need to be done. In the meantime learn about some of the common plants used as medicine in Jamaica

Medicinal plants for boosting immunity can be taken in tea from. However the more common practice is to boil a number of herbs together to make a root tonic.

  • Sarsaparilla (Smilax ornata) tea as well as being used in root tonics to relieve fatigue and boost energy.
  • Strong Back (Morinda Royoc) Used in teas in addition to being a main ingredient in root tonics. These tonics are used to increase stamina.
  • Jamaican dandelion  (Cassia occidentalis). This medicinal plant is used as a liver tonic to stimulate function. Dandelion tea is often used as a substitute for coffee.
  • PawPaw (Carica papaya) Known as Papaya in some locations, Jamaica Paw Paw is one of the plants that have many uses. The Pawpaw (Papaya) leaf is used to make tea for boosting the body’s immune system. Papaw seeds are used to expel intestinal parasites and treat indigestion.
  • Chaney root (Smilax balbisiana) This is an essential ingredient in root tonics but also used as a tea to increase stamina.

Chaney root is an essential ingredient in Jamaican root tonics.

5. Jamaican Medicinal Plants For Pain

Headaches and stomach aches are some of the more common ailments that are treated with bush tea. These are a few of the Jamaican herbs used to treat them.

  • Moringa (Moringa oleifera) tea is used for headache relief.
  • Pennyroyal  (Micromeria  brownei) leaves are used to make tea for stomach pains.
  • Hyssop  (hyssopifolia ) tea is believed to be effective in easing menstrual cramps and stomach pain.
  • Jamaican Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina or Piscidia or piscipula). Tea has long been used to treat migraines and nerve pain. People also drink Jamaican dogwood tea relieve anxiety andhelp them sleep. 
  • Ganja (cannabis) Although the herb is native to South Asia, It is possibly the most widely known medicinal plant in Jamaica. Ganja has been used for recreational and medicinal purposes. Ganja tea is used to treat pain, asthma and as a diuretic.

6. Herbs For High Blood Pressure

  • Arilia (Aralia guilfoylei) tea is also used for relieving headaches and migraines. Leaves are placed on the forehead and held in place with a head tie. 
  • Cullen mint (Lippia alba) leaves are steeped in hot water and used to relieve headaches and high blood pressure usually in tea form.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum) is a relative of onion, leek and scallion. Garlic is a base ingredient in many recipes. However this herb is widely used as a treatment for high blood pressure.
  • Breadfruit Leaf (Artocarpus altilis) Breadfruit leaf tea is used for treating high blood pressure. It is also used for treatment of some infections.
  • Spanish Needle (Bidens alba) Spanish Needle tea is consumed for lowering pressure and treating sinus infections.  

It is also believed that Spanish needle tea helps improve circulation.

7. Jamaican Detox Plants

These are some of the most popular herbs for cleansing and detox. This process is referred to as “taking wash out” on the island. These plants and divided into two categories.

The first category belongs to herbs that are used as blood purifiers. The second category is for those plants that are labeled as laxatives.

  • Cerasee  (Momordica charantia) Cerasee tea is the most famous Jamaican bush tea for detox and cleansing. It is also considered to be a good weightloss aid.
  • Aloe Vera  This one is not always consumed as tea. Sometimes the Aloe Vera leaves are pureed and added to other foods. But the leaves do have a bitter taste.
  • Senna (Cassia species) tea brewed using dried leaves and pods consumed a laxative and cleanser.
  • Mexican Poppy (Argemone mexicana) Its use in traditional medicine dates back to the Aztecs. The tea is used as a laxative and to treat fevers and headaches. These are symptoms associated with malaria.
  • Duck Flower  (Aristolochia grandiflora) Tea is taken to relieve colds, flu and stomach aches.  Tea made from dried duck flowers is also used as an aggressive detox. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list but I hope it is a useful one. Feel free to use them for making a cup of Jamaican bush tea.

How to Make Jamaican Bush Teas

Many times these bush teas are made from a combination of two or more plants. 

For instance, it is not unusual to combine ginger and some other herb to make a cold bush tea for treating the common cold.

 Most teas are boiled, with the exception of a few like mint teas, that are steeped instead of being boiled.

The ratio is usually two to one. That means two cups of water makes a cup of tea.

The average time it takes to boil bush teas is about 10 minutes. After that it is sweetened and taken as a hot or warm beverage.

Shop Popular Jamaican Herbal Teas Here

Why Jamaican Medicinal Herbs?

Jamaican medicinal herbs have gained attention due to their rich traditional use and scientifically backed benefits.

With the global market for herbal medicine projected to reach USD411 by 2026, there is a growing interest in natural remedies.

According to a report, the preference for traditional treatments using herbal medicine is expressed by a significant percentage of people worldwide—between 70 and 80 percent.

Jamaican medicinal herbs offer a valuable resource in meeting this demand for natural and traditional treatments. More than 50 percent of the plants currently used in pharmacology can be found on the island. And more than 30 percent of these plants are endemic to Jamaica.

Related: You May Also Like Jamaica Dogwood Benefits

This is by no means an exhaustive list of plants from Jamaican. But I hope it provided some of the answers your were searching for.


This is a short list of the most well known plants from Jamaica and what they are used to relieve. Some live plants or seeds can be purchased from your local plant store or online marketplaces.

Many of them are available in the form of loose leaf herbal teas. These can be bought at your local market or from online marketplaces such as Etsy.

On a side note, Possession of more than 2 ounces of Ganja in Jamaica is a criminal offence that can land you in jail.

That being said, Ganja is widely used as a recreational drug on the island.  The plant is also used to make tea for treatment of pain and other common ailments.

As the demand for herbal remedies increases, no doubt more studies will  be done. These will determine how to best use these Jamaican plants and flowers plants safely.

Disclaimer: All information in this  article is for informational purposes. It should not be used to determine the course of your medical treatment. Please consult your professional healthcare to discuss your care. (see full disclaimer)

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