Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Turn to the herbs - Maroons claim to have cure for COVID-19

Published:Monday | May 4, 2020 | 12:14 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer

The Maroons and other indigenous peoples have a very long history of using certain bushes and herbs to treat a plethora of maladies. Now, all over the world naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is practised. It is regarded as being natural, non-invasive and self-healing. It is based on folk medicine, rather than on evidence-based medicine.

And with the new coronavirus invading the land, full of bushes and herbs, where informal herbal medicine is widely practised, there have been cautions from certain quarters against the use of herbs and bushes to counteract the said virus. This has prompted some Maroons to ask the question, “Wha dem a talk bout?”

The Gleaner raised the issue recently with some of the leaders of the Scotts Hall and Charles Town Maroons, in St Mary and Portland, respectively. They are adamant that herbs and other medicinal plants are the cure for many illnesses.


Rodney Rose of the Charles Town Maroons was in a no-nonsense mood. While he wholeheartedly supports the measures of the Government to stem the spread of the virus, he is offended by the warnings about the use of herbal medicine to treat those who have contracted it.

“Him cyaan tell we dat because we grow up see wi foreparents a drink bush tea. A bush wi use. Wi no have the tings dem fi test dem, but everything is bush, even in chik-V times. Who are they to tell us that?” he asked. The expert abeng blower’s eyes were now piercing from a very stern face. He was supported by his partner, Colonel Marcia Douglas.

“At times people will go ahead and tell you that certain types of medications cannot help, but look at it this way, getting infection in the lungs is something you may want to get out before you administer anything. One of the ways in getting out the infections is by using some of these products,” Colonel Douglas said, pointing to an array of products she has made from natural ingredients.

To fight congestions, colds, flus and allergies, her Maroon forebears would do something called ‘sweat lodge’ by ‘steaming’ the heads of the afflicted over a concoction of herbs, citrus peel, ginger, thyme, garlic, lime, lemongrass. In addition to the steaming, they consumed hot beverages made of the extracts from aforementioned things, and bushes and herbs.


“I think the Ministry of Health and Wellness is looking in the wrong direction for healing,” Colonel Douglas asserted. “Look to your natural medicines just like how you are encouraging us to eat natural.”

Even before the malady grips you, there should be daily diets of natural foods and beverages that strengthen the immune system. Colonel Douglas lists dandelion, avocado, garlic, pineapple, lemon, orange, mango, tangerine, lime, and apple, among others, as essential to boosting the immune system, in addition to concoctions made of the extracts from bushes and herbs.

Over at Scotts Hall, Lloyd Lattibeaudiere, who got the highest number of votes in a leadership election held in January, also commends the Government for its anti-spreading coronavirus measures. Yet, he is all for the use of bushes and herbs. Pointing to a hill in the distance, he told of how his Maroon ancestors would heal themselves using herbs, even setting up their own hospital. Herb production, processing and marketing are some of the things he wants to achieve during his reign.

Rudolph Pink, one of the leaders at Scotts Hall, is not perturbed for a minute by the threat coming from the coronavirus. He said the environment, the “beautiful greenery” in the community, is there to ward off the virus and protect them. “We don’t feel threatened because we have the rainforest and the water,” he said. However, what he said the community is threatened by is 5G radiation.

Back at Charles Town, Colonel Douglas, who sometimes operate the Charles Town Herb Museum to teach visitors about ethnomedical plants, is imploring one and all to “turn to the natural herbs and medicine”.