Medicinal Plants

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) have a rich tradition of using medicinal plants for healing and wellness. This tradition is deeply rooted in the islands’ Afro-Caribbean heritage, as well as the knowledge passed down from the Indigenous peoples who once inhabited the region. Medicinal plants are used to treat a wide range of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, skin conditions, and more. These plants are often prepared as teas, poultices, or tinctures, and are used both internally and externally.

One of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the USVI is the Guinea Hen Weed (Petiveria alliacea). This plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties, and is used to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, colds, and fevers.

Another plant that is widely used in the USVI is Soursop (Annona muricata). The fruit of this plant is believed to have anticancer properties and is used to make a popular drink that is consumed for its health benefits.

In addition to these plants, the USVI is home to a variety of other medicinal plants, including Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), and Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis), all of which are used for their healing properties.

Overall, the use of medicinal plants is an important part of the culture and healthcare practices of the USVI. These plants not only provide valuable treatments for a variety of ailments but also serve as a link to the islands’ rich cultural heritage.

Preserving the legacy of traditional medicine holds immense significance as we risk losing invaluable knowledge to the sands of time. Toni Thomas, an Extension Agent at the University of the Virgin Islands, penned “Traditional Medicinal Plants of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John: A Selection of 68 Plants,” published in paperback in February 1997. While these plants may go by various names, the nomenclature used by Thomas is adopted here as the principal identification for each plant.

Aloe; Beggars Tick; Cane-Piece Senna; Congo Root; Eyebright; Fitweed; Guinea Blister; Hollow Stock; Inflammation Bush; Inkberry; Ironroot; Japana; Joy Juice; Jumbie Pepper; Kittie-Mc-Wanie; Licorice Weed; Love Bush; Man-Better-Man; Many Roots; Marshmallow; Milkweed; Old Man’s Beard; Pink Plant; Pussly; Rock Balsam; Spanish Needle; Stupid Bush; The Pays; Thistle Root; Whitey Whitey; Wild Basil; Wild Coffee; Wild Physic Nut; Wormgrass; Worrywine

Bay cedar; Bay Lavender; Black Sage; Black Wattle; Chicery Bush; Christmas Bush; Cotton; Crab Pickle Bush; Papalolo; Pipe Bush; Santa Maria; Sweet Scent

Bay Rum; Caneel; Ginger Thomas; Kenip; Lignum Vitae; Maubi Bark; Milk Bush; Painkiller; Soursop; Turpentine Tree; Womans Tongue

Bell Apple Bush; Chewstick; Chiggernit; Gerit-Tout; Love Vine; Maiden Apple; Noyau Vine; Pap Vine; Pathaca; Stinging Nettle;

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