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To name just a few, Phytotherapeutic Medical practice suggests the following remedies:

  • Abscesses or boils: "zonyon dilin" i.e. white amaryllis juice (Hymenocallis caribaea), "siwl" leaf juice (hogplum - Spondias purpurea), steeped calabash-gourd pulp (Crescentia cujete) or "kk souri" root pulp (Chiococca alba).
  • Asthma ("opresyon"): "degonfle" leaf decoctions (Acalypha alopecuroida), "konkonb zombi" (Datura stramonium) flower smoking, tomato leaf "bonbonyen" (wild sage) tea.
  • Emotional shocks: vervain (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), "langichat" (thoroughwort - Eupatorium odoratum) or thyme leaf teas; kidney bean leaves juice; cashew-tree leaf "fy doliv" (Moringa oleifera), coffee (Coffea arabica) or "fy koray" (scarlet bush - Hamelia patens) decoctions, all to be taken with the addition of salt.
  • Bladder and Kidney conditions: leaf decoctions of "fy kas dou" (golden shower-tree - Cassia fistula), "fy zory bourik" (Sansevieria guinensis), "fy marigouya /bonbon koulv" (Passiflora foetida) and "fy lougawou" (Bryophillum pinnatum).
  • Hypertension: "rafrechi" made of the decoction of the wooden part of the coconut to which is added some almond leaves (Terminalia catappa), "fy a k" (Lepianthes peltata), "kenp" (honeyberry or Melicocca bijuga) and "ppt lam veritab" (the male fruit of the breadfruit tree - Artocarpus incisa) leaves.
  • Diabetes (diagnosed by the attraction of ants to the patients’ urine): "pom kajou" bark (cashew-tree - Anacardium occidentale) or "dy do" (niruri - Phyllanthus niruri) decoctions, "trompt" (trumpet-tree - Cecropia peltata), "twa zm f" (Stemodia durantifolia) leaf decoctions. Daily diet should include millet or sorghum (instead of rice) and "pwa congo" (Congo or Pigeon pea - Cystisus cajan).

Etc., etc... One could continue like that, and ad infinitum, to compare the data from the Phytotherapeutic type of Medicine to what is given by the pharmaceutical laboratories. The numbers of herbs utilized in Haiti are in the hundreds and such a study would certainly prove to be interesting. So interesting, that in 1983, according to the then director of USIS, the United States Information Agency in Haiti, more than a thousand anthropologists, ethnologists, biochemists coming from the U.S. alone, were roaming around the country. Some of them, indeed, had found the gems they were looking for. I will only mention for the record what must be considered very remarkable discoveries, indeed:

  • "Bwa lt" (snakeroot or bitter bush - Rauwolfia serpentina) was commonly used by the people of the mountain of Kenscoff, 50 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince, the capital city. It provided the biochemically active principle recognized as Reserpine, which became a classic all over the world for the treatment of heart diseases.
  • Around 1940-1950, famous endocrinologist Dr. Gregory Pincus came to Haiti to research certain plants such as "Chapo kare" (iron wood - Sloanea domingensis) and "Chalt Mawon" (shallot). Thus the active principles of the Birth Control Pill were discovered, which changed the life and the social behavior of more than half the globe’s population. His work, though, later experimented in Puerto Rico, has been attributed to that country. But Dr. Pincus did most of his research and experimentations in Haiti with the authorization, the facilities and the moral support of the Haitian people and of the government of that time.

However, it should also be noted that economic, political and other constraints at times influence the carrying out of treatments. Nevertheless, the arsenal of pharmaceutical products is naturally produced, of course. Extremely rich, it is abundantly supplied, and those products never need electricity nor refrigeration for their preservation.


1 Laboratories have effectively put in evidence the presence of a pyrolophenanthrenic alkaloid in the "zonyon dilin"; a strong antibiotic activity particularly against the staphylococcus aureus and the Bacillus subtilis in the extract from the pulp of "Kalbas"; steroids, polyphenols and alkaloids in the roots of the "Kk souri".

2 Presence of cyanogenic derivatives and steroids in "degonfle" leaves; hyoscyamine, atropine and scopolamine in the "konkonb zonbi"; some nitro-steroids like tomatidin, solanidin, furocoumarin, tryptamin in tomato leaves. "Bonbonyen" contains b-sitosterol, lantaden and some terpenic acids.

3 Vervain leaves have gamma-amino butyric acid and dopamine; thoroughwort leaves contain chalcon, odoratin, flavonoid, isosakuratin, salvigenin and some sesquiterpenic and triterpenic acids such as eupatol, lupeol, and b-amyrin; thyme, an essential oil rich in thymol and carvacrol (20-70%), cymen, pinene, borneol, linalool, etc... On top of their bactericidal and fungicidal activities, they are also antispasmodic. Kidney bean leaves contain some very efficient cyanogenetic derivatives; "pom kajou" leaves juglon, cycloartenol and cycloeucalenol; "fy doliv" leaves contain carotenoid, benzylsevenol and pterygospermin; coffee leaves contain methyl salicylate, caffeine which is well known to excite the nervous system and to be at the same time tonicardiac. Furthermore, it accelerates the respiratory processes.


4 Laboratories have put in evidence the presence of certain glucidic derivatives, pectin, rheine and sennosides A and B in "kas dou" leaves; anthocyanate glucosides, hydroxy-5-tryptamin, salicylic acid in marigouya leaves.

5 Laboratories have found that the entire almond tree is rich with ellagin, quercetol, leucocyanidin, kaempferol and some flavonoids; "fy k" or Lepianthes is rich in anethol.

6 Laboratories have shown the evidence of vitamin C, cardol and anacardol in the bark of the "pom kajou"; the leaves of the trumpet-tree contain a leucocyanidin, some steroids and an ursolic acid; the "pitimi" is a glucide that contains some cyanogenetic derivatives. The "pwa congo" has shown the presence of an isoflavone which is fungicide, called cajanon. It is also a good source of protein.


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© Max G. Beauvoir - 1998 - 2006

all  reproduction is strictly forbidden without express authorization

Author : Max-G Beauvoir
Tel :  (509) 458 1500
Le Péristyle de Mariani, Mariani, Haiti

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