Neem, noni and anamu: These three words may sound foreign and that's exactly what they are.
In the Caribbean, these are some of the most common fruits and plants to naturally heal the body. Dr. Gilbertha St. Rose, a dermatologist and herbalist based in St. Lucia, says on the islands, people have been using herbs, spices and plants to naturally heal pain and ward off illnesses for decades.
"It's this idea that grandma knows best and in the Caribbean, most of the time, she does," she said during the second annual St. Lucia Health and Wellness Retreat in Castries, St. Lucia.
A 2010 Ipsos-Reid survey found that 73 per cent of Canadians took some form of natural health product, including vitamins, minerals, herbal products and homeopathic medicines. For the most part, herbs, spices and other plants are low-cost, accessible and don't include any type of medication.
Because of the climate, some of these plants and fruits are grown exclusively in the Caribbean, but sold in North American health food stores, St. Rose adds. So yes, there are ways to get your own dose of neem, noni and anamu.
But remember, just because something is "naturally" growing from a tree, doesn't mean it's safe to consume. A document from Health Canada says consumers often assume natural health products are safe because of a "natural" label, but in fact, any product that has been designed to affect the human body should be taken with caution. Some products may have higher health risks for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women and others who have already been diagnosed with serious illnesses, reports the CBC.
Have you tried (or heard) of these natural remedies before? Let us know in the comments below. Here are 10 natural healing remedies you may not have heard of:
Neem trees grow in tropical regions and parts of Asia, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Neem leaves are known for their immune boosting properties, says Dr. Gilbertha St. Rose a dermatologist and a herbalist based in St. Lucia. "Making a tea with three to five neem tree leaves can lower the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, large prostate and even prevent cancer," she says.
Capsaicin cream, which is made from a base of crushed hot chili peppers, St. Rose says, is a natural way to heal muscle and joint pain.
Obviously not found exclusively on Caribbean islands, rosemary tea or cooked rosemary is used there as a remedy to prevent Alzheimer's and even a natural way to get healthier hair, St. Rose says.
This flower, primary sold and grown in most parts of North America, can be easily turned into a gel (just add dried petals, boiling water, gelatin, vodka and tea tree oil) to treat acne and pimples, St. Rose says.
Shea butter — which is actually the fat content of a Shea nut — can be used to treat sunburns, skin rashes, cellulite and even yeast infections, St. Rose says.
Coconut oil, which is more popularly used to treat dead or dry hair, can also help ward off dementia, St. Rose says. However, some studies have claimed that one should not rely solely on coconut oil to treat or cure any early signs of dementia, according to The University Of California.
Cinnamon (ground or in bark form) is used extensively in dishes throughout the Caribbean, and can be used to regulate blood sugar levels in diabetics, help lower bad cholesterol and in turn raise good cholesterol and help control indigestion and digestion, St. Rose says.
Noni, a fruit found in the Caribbean, Australia and Southeast Asia, is sold commercially as a juice through manufacturers in the United States. St. Rose says naturally made noni juice is an instant energy booster and beneficial for treating fatigue. Noni juice, however, is high in potassium and should be avoided by people with kidney diseases and pregnant women.
A spice often used in curries and other Caribbean and Indian dishes, turmeric also helps heals inflammation and is packed with antioxidants, St. Rose says. "It can also be used as a facial to treat acne and make your skin look younger," she adds.
No, this isn't basil. Anamu is flower-based plant, grown in various regions of the Caribbean. Anamu, St. Rose says, is used as a traditional remedy for cancer and it can help stimulate the immune system.