Stated to have been introduced into Jamaica in the seventeenth century by a slave, this senna is still said
to be used here as a substitute for the official sennas. At one time it was official in the British Pharmacopoeias
as an ingredient of Alexandrian senna. Both pods and leaves contain oxymethylanthraquinone (1.1 to 1.15 per
cent in the leaves and about 1.2 per cent in the pods) and also probably emodin. At one time it was cultivated on
the Palisadoes with a view to exporting the senna. In Africa in addition to its use as a cathartic the leaves
are used as a dressing for burns and ulcer.
Used as a general beverage. For fever and pain the decoction is taken as a drink and also as a bath.
Alternatively the body may be rubbed with the leaves. For colds the leaves may be ground up to provide a snuff,
and a bath with ginger root added may be used. It is also probably used as a laxative for babies. In the Grenadines and in Jamaica it is considered valuable for difficult menstruation. In Antigua it was, and may still be,
used for bronchitis, colic, and convulsions in children.
Spanish Needle (Bidens Pilosa)
Sometimes used in Jamaica, when young, as a green vegetable or potherb. It is boiled like calalu,
occasionally with lard, and is said to be good for the bowels. Tea is prepared from it and used in the treatment
of worms and as a general beverage. The juice of the fresh plant is also used, as in parts of Africa, as a styptic
for cuts. It is also used in Africa as a potherb; infusions of the leaf and root for colic; the powdered leaf in water
as an enema for abdominal complaints; and the juice as drops for earache and ophthalmia. Steggerda also
mentions its use in Jamaica for colds.