Medical Properties in Local Plants

26 Jan 2015
Do you remember those old remedies for ailments that your mother, grandmother or maybe your great grandmother used to use? No? Well Home & Garden Caribbean wants to remind you.

There are various local plants in Trinidad and Tobago which contain medical properties. These plants are used as remedies for certain illnesses however; they should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a Medical Practitioner. Home & Garden Caribbean therefore, strictly recommends that before using herbal medications you should consult your Health Care Provider or Medical Doctor for professional advice. 

Although the properties in Local Plants can provide temporary relief for some ailments, just like all other herbs, care should be taken to consume in moderation, as not to do more harm than good.  Additionally, if you suffer from any allergies or serious illnesses please desist from using these remedies and consult your Medical Doctor.

Some local plants identified with medical properties are:

The Paw Paw Leaf (Papaya Leaf)
paw paw tree outdoors showing leaves

As you know, the Chikungunya virus is spread by the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito that breeds in dirty water, but do you also know that it has been said that the juice from the paw paw leaf can help as a cure for Chikungunya symptoms.

If you wish to try this remedy all that is required are three paw paw leaves, one for each day. If you don’t have a tree in your yard, I’m certain that someone in your neighbourhood will have one and would not mind sharing a few leaves with you, it’s ok to ask. When the leaves are obtained, discard the green stem and the light green hard veins on the leaf, chop only the dark green portion of the leaf and put it in a small mixer along with only two tablespoons of water (if a tiny mixer is not available, grind it into a paste on a stone or chopping board). Squeeze all the liquid you can get from the paste by using a metal tea-strainer then drink all at once. This process can be repeated on day 2 and on day 3. 

The Fever Grass
fever grass outdoors

Fever Grass is known to Trinidadians and Tobagonians as a remedy to reduce fever. However, there are a few medical properties contained in the herb which are believed to help with some ailments such as coughs, colds, menstrual cramps and nausea.  It’s interesting to note, that it may also be used as a detoxifier and a natural diuretic, for persons who would like to lose weight or purge their body.  The grass is also known to be used as an insect repellent. 

The Fever Grass requires bright sunlight but will also grow in light shade. However, you should be careful when handling as the blades can cut you.  Our tropical climate is ideal for the growth and development of the plant which is characterized by long, thin green leaves that grow from base outwards.

The leaves of the grass can also be enjoyed as a hot beverage by stripping the outer section of the leaves which is intended to be used.  Simply cut the leaves into smaller slices and place them in a container of boiling water and allow it to boil for around five minutes. You can sweeten with sugar and even add milk if desired.

The fever grass plant does not have a season, once you have planted the tree and it grows, the grass is available all year round.

The Aloe Vera Plant
aloe vera plant outdoors

The Aloe contained in the Aloe Vera Plant has been said to a be very good home remedy for curing some ailments. The plant produces two substances Gel and Latex. The Gel is the clear, jelly-like substance obtained from the cells in the centre of the leaf, while the Latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf’s skin.

It is believed that Aloe medication can be taken for the relief of illnesses such as fever, itching, burns, fast healing of bedsores or as a general tonic, just to name a few. Suggestions have been made that the Gel should be taken orally or applied to the skin directly.

Aloe latex contains chemicals that work as a laxative and is very good for haemorrhoids. However, taking Aloe Latex orally is likely unsafe, especially in high doses. The concern is that some of the chemicals found in aloe latex might cause cancer. Additionally, aloe latex is hard on the kidneys and could lead to serious kidney disease and even death.

If you decide to use the Aloe Gel only use very small quantities at a time. I remember quite a number of years ago two of my brothers were involved in separate vehicular  accidents. My mother, who is now 95 years old, gave them a teaspoon of the Aloe Gel mixed with a teaspoon of Molasses, for five days straight. This she said would remove any clot blood, if there were any internal injuries and on the sixth day they were given a purge. I still believe in her homemade remedies. 

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