This book highlights the results from over a year of ethnobotanical research in a rural and urban community in Jamaica, where the authors interviewed more than 100 people who use medicinal plants for healthcare. The goal of this research was to better understand patterns of medicinal plant knowledge and to find out which plants are used in consensus by local people for a variety of illnesses.
For this book, the authors selected 25 popular medicinal plant species mentioned during fieldwork. Through individual interviews, we were able to rank plants according to their frequency of mention, and categorized the medicinal uses for each species as “major” (mentioned by more than 20% of people in a community) or “minor” (mentioned by more than 5%, but less than 20% of people). Botanical identification of plant specimens collected in the wild allowed for cross-linking of common and scientific plant names.
To supplement field research, we undertook a comprehensive search and review of the ethnobotanical and biomedical literature. Our book summarizes all this information in detail under specific sub-headings.
Geographic location of research
A) Ethnobotanical interviews
B) Plant collection and identification
C) Data entry and analysis
D) Review of the scientific literature
How to use this book
- Bitter orange: Citrus × aurantium L.
- Breadfruit: Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg
- Calabash: Crescentia cujete L.
- Cassava marble: Jatropha gossypiifolia L.
- Castor oil: Ricinus communis L.
- Cerasee: Momordica charantia L.
- Coconut: Cocos nucifera L.
- Dandelion: Senna occidentalis (L.)
- Link Fevergrass: Cymbopogon citratus Stapf
- Fitweed: Eryngium foetidum L.
- Ginger: Zingiber officinale Roscoe
- Guinea henweed: Petiveria alliacea L.
- Holy thistle: Argemone mexicana L.
- Jack-in-the-bush: Chromolaena odorata (L.) R.M.King & H.Rob
- King-of-the-forest: Senna alata (L.) Roxb.
- Leaf of life: Bryophyllum pinnatum (Lam.) Oken
- Noni: Morinda citrifolia L.
- Pennyroyal: Clinopodium brownei (Sw.) Kuntze
- Pimento: Pimenta dioica (L.) Merr.
- Ramgoat regular: Turnera ulmifolia L.
- Rice and peas: Antigonon leptopus Hook. & Arn.
- Semi-contract: Dysphania ambrosioides (L.) Mosyakin & Clemants
- Sinkle bible: Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.
- Soursop: Annona muricata L.
- Susumba: Solanum torvum Sw.
Index of plant names and health conditions
Ina Vandebroek, PhD., is a biologist and ethnobotanist. She is the Mathew Calbraith Perry Associate Curator of Economic Botany and Caribbean Program Director at The New York Botanical Garden. Ina is the Principal Investigator of the research project “Comparative Exploration of Plants and Local Knowledge in Portland Parish, Jamaica”, funded by the National Geographic Society, Committee for Research and Exploration (grant #9339-13). She studied Biology at the University of Ghent in Belgium and holds a PhD. in Medical Sciences from the same university. After earning her doctorate, Ina specialized in ethnobotany, the science that investigates how people perceive, use, and manage their plant resources in traditional, culturally-appropriate ways. Through interviews with local community members and plant identification, Ina documents the traditional knowledge, beliefs, and practices of these communities, to help preserve their cultural heritage and contribute to plant conservation. She also trains medical students and healthcare providers in developing a more culturally appropriate and sensitive clinical practice.
David Picking, PhD., came to Jamaica as a Commonwealth Scholar in 2008 and went on to complete a doctorate in biochemistry at The University of the West Indies (UWI). David previously graduated from the School of Integrated Health, University of Westminster, London, as a medical herbalist and naturopath in 2007. David is currently a Research Fellow at the Natural Products Institute, UWI, where his research focuses on documenting traditional knowledge and the contemporary use of medicinal plants by Jamaicans. David has a particular interest in the integration of medicinal plants into the Jamaican healthcare system, and, as part of his PhD, screened a number of the most commonly used plants for their potential interaction with pharmaceutical drugs, a key aspect of medicinal plant safety. David was part of a team that successfully undertook a TRAMIL survey and completed Jamaica’s first contribution to the TRAMIL database and online plant pharmacopeia, adding to the body of knowledge from over 50 surveys completed across the Caribbean to date (the name TRAMIL is derived from “Traditional Medicines in the Islands”).