Human Flower Project

Mother’s Remedies from Jamaica

It’s cold season. Georgia Silvera Seamans and baby Robert catch the bug and glean home remedies from grandmother. Fetch the cauldron…


A mobile for the baby’s room? No, it’s bitter melon (Momordica charantia), used in Jamaican traditional medicine to make a tea that eases stomach ache.

Photo: wiki

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

My baby’s ear infection went away without his taking antibiotics.  Now, we both have colds.  He is not being given anything for his cold except liquids and rest.  I am gargling my sore throat with warm salt water per my mother’s instruction.  This morning, after putting my baby to sleep, my mother told me about home remedies of her youth.  My mother grew up “in the country” of Jamaica. 


Pick a lot of fever grass (a.k.a. lemongrass), boil it in a large cauldron, pour the hot liquid into a tub, and set a wooden plank across the tub. The feverish person would then sit on the plank and be covered by a sheet. The person would remain under the steam sauna until the water became lukewarm.  Prior to pouring the fever grass brew into the tub, a small portion would be sweetened with sugar or honey for the feverish person to drink.


As many cow-foot leaves (Piper umbellatum) as were needed to cover one’s head were gathered and then your head was wrapped with a scarf.


Wrap an aching head in Piper umbellatum (cow-foot leaves), a relative of our own root beer plant/hoja santa (Piper auritum)

Image: Nicolaus Joseph Jacquin


A weed whose name my mother cannot recall was boiled and drunken for a couple of mornings.

If One Stepped on a Rusty Nail

A paste made of kerosene oil and grated green banana was applied to site and the foot was wrapped tightly (bandaged) for a day. The nail would emerge from the wound and there would be no need for a tetanus shot.


The wound was cleaned with a mixture of bay rum and camphor balls and then wrapped with a bandage. This application would prevent an infection. The bay rum and camphor balls mix was something my mother’s grandmother always had in her house.


Cerasee tea, a bitter brew derived from the bitter melon plant (Momordica charantia) was sweetened and drunk by the person with a tummy ache.  I recall drinking cerasee tea.  Also, we had a plant growing along the fence of our side yard.  The fruit is very beautiful. A stronger brew could be administered as a cleanser and was known as a “wash out.”

If a Baby Contracted Pink Eye

Dew gathered from leaves very early in the morning was applied to the eye.  (An alternative was to apply mother’s milk to the affected eye.)

Note: Hope you’ve both made full recovery, Georgia! (Georgia’s weblog is Local Ecology.)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/15 at 09:36 PM


Georgia, I enjoyed reading about your mother’s “country” remedies,

That is one cute photo of you and young Robert!

I hope you all are feeling better very soon.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/16 at 08:06 AM

Allen: we are better, thank you.  Mother/grandmother’s care was a major contributing factor.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/18 at 09:59 AM

Thanks .

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/23 at 06:34 AM
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