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What is Bush Medicine?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 17, 2024
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Bush medicine is a type of traditional medicine practiced in the Bahamas. It involves the use of over 100 plants that are native to these islands. Some of them include kalanchoe, sweetwood, eucalyptus, and spotted basil, to name a few. These plants are used to treat illnesses such as digestive disorders, headaches, the common cold, and leukemia. Bush drugs are being researched by a number of natural medicine practitioners throughout the world.

This form of medicine became popular with islanders when African slaves that were being brought there began teaching it to them in the 1800s. Bush medicine has continued in popularity, largely because doctors are often unavailable on these islands. This is especially true in many of the more remote outlying areas.

The Lignum vitae, also called the tree of life, is one plant commonly used in bush medicine. This tree can be used to treat overall weakness of the body, especially of the back. Drinking a tea made from the leaves of this plant is thought to strengthen the spine.

Sweetwood is commonly used to treat a number of digestive disorders. These range from nausea and vomiting to diarrhea. The bark of this tree may be used as an expectorant for individuals who are congested due to the common cold. Parts of this plant are often exported to Italy for use in treating these disorders.

Hurricane weed is often called a stonebreaker. This is because this weed is often used to break up kidney stones or gall stones. It may also be used to treat people with a loss of appetite or flu-like symptoms. Medical researchers are studying this plant to see if bush prescription drugs made from it can be developed to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or hepatitis, as well as other diseases.

People who regularly adhere to bush medicine practices typically have an above average lifespan. They also have relatively few medical problems and typically do not need conventional pharmaceuticals to maintain their health. This is especially true of residents on Cat Island, one of the central islands in the Bahamas.

Tourists visiting the Bahamas may want to visit a bush medicine doctor. This can be true for people suffering from chronic pain or simply affected by a stomach disorder. A travel guide can normally recommend a practitioner that is willing to see non-residents. Visiting one can be an informative and educational experience for individuals of all ages.

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