Without taking away from the positives of 21st century medicine and scientific progress, a lot can be said for traditional, natural remedies that help us deal with basic health ailments. Alternative medicine is another area that’s generating national interest. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, more than 30% of Americans invest in some kind of non-conventional medicine.

Just as science and pharmaceutical medicine continues to develop, so does the public’s interest in the use of alternative medicines. This is perhaps one of the reasons why information on the subject is now more readily available. We might turn to homeopathic treatments to help with arthritis, women may be interested in ayurvedic therapies to encourage hair regrowth, or we could be encouraged to try making our own remedies at home to combat the discomfort of a sore throat. Another fascinating area to explore focuses on traditional remedies and plants used in Creole households. Aside from offering another natural approach to healthcare, Creole remedies also reveal interesting insights into the history and culture of the Creole community.

Tensyon Tea, for relieving tension

Tea is a really important component of Haitian culture. There are literally dozens of leaves that the traditional Haitian family will use to make a wide variety of drinks for different occasions and needs. When crudely translated, the word “tensyon” means “tension” and is used to refer to the kind of emotional and physiological tension that the human body experiences when suffering from illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.

To make a cup of Tensyon Tea, and relieve your body of the built up tension that is making you ill, you need to combine lemon balm, with rosemary, hawthorne and soursop. For best results, allow the tea to brew for at least 10 minutes.

Cerasee or Asosi, the cure-all plant

Remed Fey, or bush medicine, is a Creole term used to refer to all those kinds of natural remedies that can help us to stay fit and healthy from one day to the next. Some Haitians swear by a plant called Cerasee or Asosi, the go-to plant to cure all kinds of basic ailments. It can be found growing all around South Florida, particularly flourishing after heavy rainfall. It’s a green plant with five pointed leaves and to many of us, unaware of its healing properties, we’d be forgiven for mistaking it as a simple weed.

One of the most common ways of consuming the plant is to turn it into a tea and it’s pretty easy to prepare. You wash it, throw it into a pot of boiling water (no need to cut off the stems or any other part) and then you let it simmer until the water turns green. A particularly bitter plant, it’s not the tastiest tea in the world, but that can soon be remedied by adding a little honey to take the edge off.

Lizard’s Tail, an anti-inflammatory for diabetics

A final area of interest to look into is the research being undertaken by Pennington Biomedical Research Center. These investigations hope to discover the extent of the natural power of Creole remedies and whether or not they can be harnessed to help those suffering from diabetes. The exciting thing about the research is that it attempts to bring folk medicine and modern medicine together, which doesn’t happen very often.

One of the plants under observation is known as Lizard’s Tail. A simple stalk full of tiny, white flowers that gradually taper off into a point, which is why this Creole plant gets its name from the proportions of a lizard’s tail. Even though advances have been made, it’s important to make clear that research is still in its very early stages and bound to continue for at least another five years.

So, when will you be treating yourself to your first Creole remedy?

by Lucy Wyndham