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Jamaican Bitters
The Most Unappealing but Effective Herbal Remedies


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Jamaican Bitters - CeraseeJamaican Bitters - Cerasee

For Jamaican children, Jamaican bitters, is a signal of two terrible truths, summer is over and it is time to head back to school and, even worse, it was time to get dewormed in preparation for the upcoming school year.

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No matter how parents and grandparents would try to disguise it and lessen the blow, you know it is coming and after one taste you’ll remember exactly why you dreaded the moment so much. 

Before the days of Zentel, more traditional and significantly less tasty methods were used to deworm children. Some of these methods have managed to survive but you grow to appreciate them for what they provide.

They weren’t only used to deworm you though Jamaican bitters were herbal remedies for all sorts of ailments. 

While the fact remains that they taste absolutely frightening, the health benefits are countless. Here are a few Jamaican bitters you could try for your kids, or even yourself.


Jamaican Bitters - Cerasee (Dried)Jamaican Bitters - Cerasee (Dried)

The bitter that makes you better. Now Cerasee is not only used in Jamaica. The fruit it bears is a popular ingredient in Asain cuisine. It is a very popular dish in Trinidad actually with bitter lemon (cerasee fruit) and salted codfish. But the health benefits are what we are here for. Cerasee: 

  • Is a renowned blood purifier
  • Flushes residual medication and drug-related toxins from the body
  • Has hypoglycemic properties 
  • Contains anti-hypertensive properties
  • Aids digestive issues 
  • Has antimicrobial properties which fight parasites or worms in the intestines
  • Has rich stores of vitamins A, C, iron and phosphorous
  • Fights inflammation
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and protects the heart
  • Stimulates bile production that helps to break down food and expel bloating
  • Helps to reduce menstrual cramps
  • Combined with other local herbs such as chicken weed and quack, Cerasee makes a  "bush" bath that is useful to relieve skin conditions like eczema, rash or ringworms (fungal infections) 
  • Is an effective laxative

Jamaican Quassia (or Bitterwood)

The most bitter substance on earth is an average Sunday for many Jamaicans. Especially those suspected of having worms.

Other benefits of Jamaican Quassia

  • Used to treat the eating disorder anorexia, indigestion, constipation, and fever.
  • Blood sugar support
  • As a mouthwash 
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • As a tonic a purgative
  • For treating lice in the hair
  • Flavour Foods, Recipe, lozenges and languages.
  • The bark and wood have been used as an insecticide

Aloe Vera

Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact place of origin, Aloe Vera, or as we say “Sinkle Bible”, is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and countless other nutritional components. This makes it a great treatment for:

  • Constipation
  • Ulcers
  • Skin bruises and burns
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • For fighting cavities
  • Hair treatment (growth and nourishment)
  • For joint pains
  • Detox of kidneys, bladder, bowels and intestines
  • Reduction of wrinkles

Aloe Vera is also a great addition to soaps and other body cleansers not only for its health benefits but for its soothing feel. We also commonly use it here in our homemade detox which is a combination of the aloe vera gel, egg whites and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Guinea Hen

Jamaican Bitters | Guinea HenJamaican Bitters | Guinea Hen

Guinea Hen is considered the cure-all of this bunch, especially since anti-cancer properties were found in the plants. But before we knew that, the guinea hen was the go-to relief for:

  • Colds
  • Fevers
  • Headaches
  • Rheumatism and Arthritis.
  • Acid Reflux
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Insect bites and rashes
  • Inflammation
  • Malaria
  • Menstrual issues
  • Yeast infections

Semi Contra

Semi Contra, Smoke Contractor, Epazote, or skunk weed, all are referring to the same plant. Also known as wormseed it is most well known for its ability to rid the body of parasites, like worms.

It is also used for cooking in Central America and the Eastern Caribbean but in Jamaica, we mainly focus on the medicinal benefits.

  • It is a champion against constipation, cramping, bleeding and indigestion
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Promotes heart health

Rice Bitters

Rice Bitters (Andrographis paniculata) is an extremely bitter herb, which was introduced to Jamaica by Vietnamese refugees. Its true benefits were soon realized by the Jamaican population and it is now commonly used to treat: 

  • Colds
  • Skin lesions
  • fevers
  • sore throat
  • coughs
  • swollen tonsils 
  • Bronchitis
  • allergies
  • Prevention of diabetes 
  • Prevention of Heart Disease

After giving us all these health benefits, Rice bitter still manages to give us more. The bitter herb is a key ingredient in the drink Absinthe. It is not recommended that Rice bitters be given to children.


The Guaco herb is a great remedy for both internal and external ailments. It can be used as tea, steam for a bath or rub the leaves on your skin. But what does all this do?

  • Reduces fever
  • Relieves Digestive complaints
  • Treats common cold and allergies
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces menstrual bleeding and lessens cramps
  • Relieves eczema, rashes and insect bites
  • Lessens joint pain
  • Heals cuts and bruises
  • Prevents acne

The most common way to have these Jamaican bitters is by steeping them in hot water and drinking it. Combined with other herbs it's a great bush bath to remedy several skin conditions including rashes and heal minor cuts.

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Return to Jamaican Herbs from Jamaican Bitters 
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References & Sources For Jamaican Bitters

  1. Jamaican Cerasee Tea | The Little Bitter That Makes You Better, 
  2. Jamaican Quassia (Bitter) Wood Supplier, Manufacturer and Exporter | Jamrow - Pioneers of Truly Jamaican Herbs and Spices,  
  3. Wormwood Medicinal Herb -,  
  4. 7 Surprising Benefits of Epazote | Organic Facts, 
  5. Tea of Life® Semi-Contra Herbal Tea (Now With 25 Tea Bags!),.,support%20a%20healthy%20immune%20system. 
  6. Jamaican Guinea Hen Weed | Amazing Health Benefits,
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