I’ve been hearing a lot about the ‘bissy’ tea that persons have been drinking to relieve symptoms of chikungunya. What other benefits does bissy have, as well as other bush teas?
Bissy (cola nut) is the fruit of the cola tree, which is native to the tropical rainforests of Africa. It has typically been kept in many Jamaican homes where it is used as an antidote against poison, usually food poisoning, and allergies.
My own experience with it has been as a stimulant; for example, it kept me awake many nights during my studies for my first degree at the University of The West Indies.
This effect is due to the high caffeine content, which can vary from point six per cent to three per cent of the nut. However, the use of bissy is now in vogue because of the outbreak of chikungunya in Jamaica. Many persons are now attesting to the curative benefits of bissy on the signs and symptoms of chikungunya. However, I’ve not seen any scientific study to show this.
However, bissy does show some properties, which might be helpful in this regard. Bissy shows antioxidant properties and bissy is also used to treat fever, relieve inflammation and diarrhoea.
A study in 2004 has also shown that bissy can inhibit the growth of some bacteria. In general, bissy energises and strengthens the body and is also a tonic. The cola nut, because of its detoxing and antioxidant properties, is also good for the skin, and many Jamaican children have been given bissy tea to detox them before going back to school, especially after a long holiday eating ‘cabba cabba’ food.
The bissy powder and leaf can also be put onto cuts to promote quicker healing.
Cerassee, another plant also native to Africa, is used within Jamaica for various skin treatments, herbal baths and a number of other things. Cerassee, a good blood cleanser, has also been shown to relieve hard stools, colds and fever in children.
Cerassee is usually taken when there is a feeling that the blood is too sweet and it needs purging. The blood is usually too sweet when the skin tone is not looking too good (rashes and scabs).
Cerassee also helps with the digestive system. Also, it is anti-inflammatory and purgative. Jamaicans believe that plants that are bitter are good for purging the blood and therefore good for skin tone. These include neem and aloe vera. In addition to being a good blood cleanser, neem also increases the white blood cells of the body, therefore increasing the ability of the body to fight foreign microorganisms like the chikungunya virus.
Though not as bitter as the above-mentioned plant, guinea hen weed might be important in improving skin tone and helping with some of the signs and symptoms of chikungunya. Guinea hen weed has been shown to have mild pain-killing properties, and also anti-viral properties, anti-cancer properties, immune boosting properties, anti-fever properties and anti-inflammatory properties.
Here in Jamaica we have been blessed with so many types of fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Let us eat right, exercise, remain positive and keep our immune systems boosted. I just have a feeling that our immune systems will be challenged several times by new foreign organisms going forward.