Guinea hen weed, also known as
Anamu, is a well-known Jamaican remedy for
headaches, fever and colds. There are several ways
of using it, for example grating the root and
steeping it in rum before rubbing the mixture over
the head, or simply tying leaves to your head.
The pure root extract is toxic if taken internally in high doses, and may cause miscarriages.
Guinea hen weed is found in the Amazon rainforest and tropical areas of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. It has a long history as a medicinal plant in the Amazon, where it is known as anamu. Its main use is against colds and as a pain reliever for headaches, rheumatism and arthritis. It also features in magic rituals. The root is said to be more powerful than the leaves.
The plant is said to have magical powers. The strong smelling leaves would be scattered around the room to ‘to keep away duppies’ (unfriendly spirits).
The root is traditionally used in an insecticide preparation, probably because of its strong smell.
Guinea hen weed has been widely studied in the laboratory. Its traditional usefulness for arthritis and rheumatism has been supported by research that shows it does have anti-inflammatory properties and may stimulate the immune system.
Plant-screening tests have also shown that it contains chemicals active against some types of cancer cells, including forms of leukaemia and breast cancer, although the effect varies. Other studies claim it is active against many strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast.
Guinea Hen weed (Anamu) Plant Summary
Main Preparation Method: capsules or infusion|
Main Actions: anticancerous, antiviral, anticandidal, antibacterial, immune stimulant
Properties/Actions Documented by Research:abortive, analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antileukemic, antibacterial, anticancerous, anticandidal, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antitumorous, antiviral, COX-inhibitor (linked to inflammation), hypoglycemic, immune stimulant, uterine stimulant
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:anti-anxiety, antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diuretic, febrifuge (reduces fever), insecticide, menstrual stimulant, sedative, vermifuge (expels worms)
Cautions: Abortive and Hypoglycemic effects. Anamu has been found to cause contractions of the uterus that can lead to abortions and miscarriages. As such, it should not be used by pregnant women. Anamu contains a low concentration of a blood thinner called coumadin. People with any bleeding disorder like hemophilia or who are on blood thinning medication should consult their health-care provider before using anamu.