Sunday, 14 October 2012


Scientific Name: Portulaca Oleracea
Local: Purslane
Creole: Coupie, Pourpier
Other Name: Pussley, Little Hogweed, Pigweed, Moss rose

Purslane known as (coupie in Dominica) is a low lying and edible weed commonly grown in the Caribbean. It is an annual plant easily adaptable to any soil condition and can be found practically every where, even in between rocks, stones and in sandy places.

It is considered an invasive weed due to its invasive tendencies. Purslane can be seen growing on sides walks, along road sides, in low vegetation areas, vegetables gardens, and in recently cultivated soils around homes and else where.

The herb is considered to be native of India and Persia but has an extensive world wide distribution extending from North America, Africa, The Middle East, to Malesia and Australia.

The purslane family includes several fleshy plants, there are approximately 40 varieties of the portulacaceae family to include the sesuvium portucastrum the (shoreline purslane) which are widely grown in salt marches and coastal areas.
Although purslane is considered a weed it may be eaten in a variety of ways, such as fresh salad mixed, stir-fried mixed veg, soups, stews, steamed, and cooked in rice like spinach. In Antigua and Barbuda it used to be a favorite ingredient in the recipe of the Antiguan Pepperpot. 

It is used as a rich vegetable source of omega -3 acids, omega 6 and 9, and high in vitamins and minerals content. In a research published by Artemis P. Simopoulos states that purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). 

Vitamins and Minerals. Purslane  is a rich source of vitamin A,B,C and E,and is high in carotenoid content, including bata carotine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, folate, lithium, and melatonin. Purslane also contains carbohydrates, lipids, glycosides, alkaloids, sterols, coumarims, triterpenes, and flavonoids.

100 Grams of fresh purslane leaves (about 1 cup) contain approximately 300-400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid, 1 cup of cooked leaves 90 mg of calcium, 561 mg of potassium, and more than 2,000 IU international units of vitamins A

Antioxidant Activity. Purslane contain high levels of antioxidant activity. It's roll in Asthma, Diabetes 2, oral lichen planus and abnormal uterine bleeding were suggested as favourable.  

Purslane use in The Caribbean. Although purslane has been traditionally used as a medicinal herb in the Caribbean few have truly understand the curative power and healing potential of this incredible herb. The plant is mostly cared for as an ornamental flower plant in homes.

History. Traditional Medicinal use of purslane dates back for about 2,000 years and it's use as food well before that period. The Romans use it to treat dysentery, intestinal worms,headache, and stomach ache. The English, French, Italians, and Chinese use it as a source of food.

In the Caribbean the Kalinago people (Caribs) would boil the leaves to be eaten as food, they would also used it as a poultice for back pains, in cooling teas, for intestinal worms, gas and biliousness.

Sea shore Purslane
Clinical Studies. Limited clinical studies have been done to provide dosage and guidelines. However experiments in mice showed increase wound healing rates with topical application of fresh plant extract, and reduced severity of induced gastric ulcers. 

Asthma. A small clinical trial evaluated the bronchodilatory effect of oral purslane extract and showed improvements in pulmonary function tests similar to to those done of theophylline.

Diabetes. Small clinical trials evaluated the effects of purslane in type 2 diabetes, and at 8 weeks improvement in serum insulin and triglycerides were observed and improvement were shown in liver function test.

Oral lichen planus. Puslane taken orally has performed better than placebo in treating oral lichen planus when taken daily at 235 mg of purslane extract.

Abnormal uterine bleeding. Minor studies evaluated the efficiency of purslane and found a decline in the extent and amount in uterine bleeding.   

If you are considering taking purslane as a supplement and is  suffering from kidney stones you are advise to consult your Doctor before doing so. 

It is noted that a half cup of leaves could contain as much as 910 mg of oxalate, a compound implicated in the formation of kidney stones. 

Note however that many other green vegetables such as spinach also contain high level of oxalates. 

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Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Soursop Tree (Graviola)

Scientific Name: Annona Muricata
Local Name: Soursop
Creole: Name Couassol
Other: Graviola, Brazilian Pawpaw, Guanba

The soursop or graviola tree is grown wild in the Caribbean and has always been used in time long ago by Caribbean people and further back the inhabitants of the islands the Kalinago indigenous people (The Caribs) as a popular home remedy.

The soursop tree until recently has become a subject matter of cancer studies with very interesting results. Extract from the plant leaves, bark, and root are now widely available in the form of tea bags, capsules, and liquids all over the internet.

The soursop tree as it is known is a specie of the Annona  family a tropical plant that is grown throughout the Caribbean, Central,and South America, Mexico, and deep in the Amazon rain forest. It is also cultivated in Florida in the United States.

Out of the 60 or so specie of the Annona Family , The soursop produces the largest fruit. It is family to the Custard Apple known as the (Cachima) in Dominica,and the Sugar Apple (Pomme Canelle). The tree plant and fruit are known by its Brazilian or Portuguese name " Greviola" or Brazilian Pawpaw and (guanabana) in Spanish.

The bark and leaves, were often used as tea and baths, more so for children to induce sleep. Other uses of the leaves are cooling, common colds, fever, coughing, and flue like symptoms, depression, high blood pressure, heat rashes, joint pains,and used as a sedative. The leaves were used for tea, to reduce swelling of the mucus membranes.and to treat liver disease. In Africa the leaves are crushed rub against the face in cases of dizziness, giddiness, shock and for the deadening of skin.

The black seeds were often crushed and ingested for intestinal worms, and also to apply to the scalp to help get rid of head lice. 

The ripe white pulpy fruit, makes delicious beverage and dessert or it can be eaten in hand. The fruit and juice are taken for worms and parasites as well to increase a mother milk after child birth and as a astringent for diarrhea and dysentery, while the young fruit are cooked as vegetables. The heart of the ripe fruit were often eaten by children for week bladder or wetting bed at knights.

The Graviola Tree a Break Through for Cancer Treatment: A few years age the Health Science Institute published a special report on an astounding discovery of a particular tree that grows deep in the Amazon rain forest that can revolutionize what you, your Doctor and the rest of the world think about cancer treatment and the chances of survival.

In 1976 the National cancer institute performed the first scientific research and the result showed that graviola leaves, and stem were found effective in attacking and destroying malignant cells.

According to the report, research shows that the extracts from this miraculous tree it may be possible to ....

  • Attack cancer safely and effectively with an all natural therapy that does not cause extreme nausea, weight loss, and hair loss.
  • Protect your immune system, and avoid deadly infections. 
  • Feel stronger and healthier throughout the course of treatment. 
  • Boost your energy level and improve your out look on life. 
The source of this information was just stunning: It came from one of Americas largest drug manufactures, the fruit of over 20 laboratory test conducted since the 1970s! What those test revealed was nothing short of mind boggling...

Extract from the tree were shown to: Effectively target and kills malignant cells in 12 types of cancer, including breast, colon, prostate, lung, and pancreatic cancer. The tree compounds proved to be up to 10,000 times stronger in slowing the growth of cancer than Adriamycin, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug! And what is more, unlike chemotherapy, the compound extracted is from the graviola tree, it selectively hunts down and kills only cancer cells. It does not harm healthy cells.

The amazing anti-cancer properties of the Graviola tree have been extensively researched, One of America's biggest billion dollar drug maker began a search for a cancer cure and their research centered on Greviola, a legendary healing tree from the Amazon rain forest.

Various parts of the tree including the bark, leaves and root, fruit and fruit-seeds have been used for centuries by medicine men and native Indians in South America, to treat disease such as asthma, liver problems, and arthritis.

Going on very little documented scientific evidence the company poured money and resources into testing the tree's anti cancerous properties and were shocked by the results. The graviola proved itself to be a cancer-killing dynamo. But sadly that was where the Graviola story ended.

The company had one huge problem with the Graviola tree- It is completely natural, and so, under federal law, not patentable. There is no way to make serious profit from it. It turns out the drug company invested nearly seven years trying to synthesize two of the graviola tree's most powerful anti-cancer ingredients.

However, in recent time there has been an increase in the demand for graviola in the Caribbean and throughout the world due to its discovery of its medicinal significant in the treatment of cancer.

Graviola extract is considered to have annonaceous acetogenin, a chemical present in the tree. This chemical has proven to be effective in fighting cancer due to its anti-microbial, anti- tumorous and anti-parasitic qualities. It also contains alkaloids which have proven to bring the effects of depression downwards. Many Doctors have already started to include graviola as a supplement in some cancer treatment.  

There are curtain medical conditions a person need to be aware of before using graviola extract. People with high blood pressure and heart diseases can face difficulties after using graviola. Please consult with your Doctor before taking any form of graviola extract. 

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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Healing Herbs of the Caribbean

Healing herbs of the Caribbean is a collection of herbs and their medicinal uses as is known in this part of the world for treating ailments, injures and many other health issues. Many of the herbs were also a source of food, salads, food supplements, vegetables, used as cosmetics and taking spritual cleansing baths.

Caribbean people dating back to the Kalinago (Caribs) for years have been practicing these traditional methods known as bush medicine with much success. Today most of the younger generation have somewhat moved away from this approach with the prevalence of modern Medicine.

While the practice of herbal medicine is somewhat on the decline in the Caribbean, it is encouraging to see some activity in the local market and on the street in Roseau the capital of Dominica, where vendors can be seen plying their trade on week days selling their cured and green herbs.

On the other hand notwithstanding the decline, there are growing public interest or a resurgent in the use of herbs globally by persons seeking cures with natural oralternative medicine, or health conscious enthusiast who want to take control of their health, such as finding answers to treating various diseases as Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer and other Autoimmune disorder ricking havoc on their health.

This era of herbal medication is making a comeback like the good old days of back to the Garden of Eden. The use of herbs to treat diseases is almost universal among third world countries, and is most times more affordable than expensive pharmaceuticals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) approximately 80% of the population in some African and Asian countries are presently using herbal medicine as some part of primary health care.Click here for further reading of the WHO.

The photos of the plants you will see here were taken mostly on the Island of Dominica and some in Antigua. The plants are of tropical nature and can be found throughout the Caribbean region, Latin and South America. Some are regarded as plants native to countries in other parts of the world such as Europe, Asia and Africa. For example the Madagascar Periwinkle, and  Purslane.

The information about the herbs and how they are used comes from various sources to  include online research, interviews with the older native Kalinago people (The Caribs) in Dominica, and  consultation with various herbalist.

The local names will vary depending on the country you are in as well as their many different uses. All of the herbs however will be identified by local, scientific, and creole names (French Patois) as is known in Dominica and countries with the French influence.

The purpose of this site is to bring about more awareness of the herbs, their medical application and other uses. Most of these herbs are grown as wild shrubs throughout the Caribbean. You will find them practically everywhere, in your front and back yards, and in over grown places such as your garden.

I hope you'll find this information useful and is able to stimulate some interest in you about the use of herbs as we seek to uncover some of the healing attributes of  thehealing herbs of the Caribbean.

Please leave your comments below.

DisclaimerThe information provided here is for educational purposes only. And is not meant to advise diagnose or treat any health condition and is not a replacement for treatment by a healthcare provider.