Lifestyle

From Bush Tea to Honey and Lime: 6 Ways Jamaicans Tackle the Flu

January 28, 2024

Winter is upon us and although in Jamaica the sun usually reigns supreme the winter months are usually a bit chilly. Cooler months for us mean flu season. When Jamaicans have the flu we tend to rely on a combination of traditional remedies and modern healthcare practices to alleviate symptoms and promote recovery. As someone who hates getting sick, I'll be sharing some of the methods Jamaicans use to tackle the flu.

Honey and Lime

One of the first symptoms of getting a cold is a sore throat. For many Jamaicans, the flu fight begins with that tiny tickle in their throat. A mixture of honey and lime is usually the first thing Jamaicans try when they feel a cold coming on. Honey has soothing properties, which make it ideal for alleviating throat irritation. Some Jamaicans will swallow the mixture as is and others will add warm water to make a soothing tea. I have had my share of honey and lime whenever I caught the flu growing up. It is still something I incorporate in my battle against the flu as an adult.

Sweat It Out

This method is generally used when we get a fever. The first step is to take a warm bath. After the bath, we souse down with rubbing alcohol or rum in some cases. We then get into bed and wrap ourselves tightly in a bid to get hot enough to 'sweat out' the fever. The idea is that inducing sweating can help the body eliminate toxins and reduce fever. While I didn't enjoy getting sick as a child, I often reminisce about how much I liked being soused down by my mom after a warm bath. Then, I would be tucked into bed to 'sweat out' my fever. I also remember those crazy fever dreams that have been the same for me since childhood. Is that weird?

Fruits

During flu season, Jamaicans ensure they have an ample supply of vitamin C. This essential nutrient, renowned for its immune-boosting properties, becomes a beacon of defence against the seasonal flu. We have no qualms with gorging on oranges, lemons, grapefruits or limes to tackle the flu. Indulging in these vitamin C-rich fruits is a strategic weapon in the fight against the flu. Some people may not have fruits readily available and in these instances, vitamin C supplements work just as well.

Over-the-Counter Medications

When tackling the flu, Jamaicans often turn to accessible and widely used over-the-counter medications for relief. The pharmaceuticals play a pivotal role in managing the symptoms of the flu. In Jamaica, common household names in the realm of over-the-counter medications include Panadol and Advil. These trusted brands have become synonymous with providing quick and effective relief, offering a sense of familiarity and dependability during times of illness. The fact that these over-the-counter solutions are commonly found in households throughout Jamaica highlights their importance in offering essential relief when the flu strikes.

Rest

Getting plenty of rest is crucial for recovery from the flu. I sometimes think that us getting sick is our body's way of forcing us to take breaks and rest. Jamaicans recognize the importance of allowing the body to heal and often prioritize ample rest during times of illness. We may even take time off work or other responsibilities to allow our bodies to rejuvenate.

Herbal Remedies - Bush Tea

The tradition of herbal tea consumption holds a special place in Jamaican wellness practices, especially when grappling with ailments like the flu. Embracing the bountiful offerings of nature, Jamaicans frequently turn to a diverse array of herbal teas, carefully crafted from ingredients such as ginger, mint, lemongrass (fever grass), and various medicinal herbs. These teas are believed to possess both soothing and healing properties. As someone who spent many summers with my grandmother, I've indulged in a generous amount of bush teas to remedy various ailments. The use of herbal remedies to tackle the flu is a technique that is passed down through generations. These days it's easier to procure herbal remedies as we now have several as tea bags. They may not be as potent, but are still effective.

Conclusion

Jamaicans are known for their innovation and have devised various techniques to tackle the flu. While all these methods may not be backed by science, they have often been deemed effective. It's important to note that these practices are cultural and may not substitute for professional medical advice. In severe cases or if symptoms persist, it is advisable to seek medical attention from healthcare professionals.

How do you tackle the flu at home? Tell me in the comments below.

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10 Comments

  • Reply Candi January 29, 2024 at 11:10 pm

    I do all of these except the bush tea and medication. Give me all the fruit juice and honey and lime when I’m under the weather. I’ve also done honey and garlic.

    • Reply Kimberley January 29, 2024 at 11:37 pm

      Honey is certainly well-used during flu season. You mentioned garlic and my mind immediately went back to Liqufruta, a garlic cough medicine I was given as a child. I did not like it.

  • Reply Janice Reid January 29, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    I still use honey and lime but now I add a little cinnamon.

    • Reply Kimberley January 29, 2024 at 7:59 pm

      Honey and lime always does the trick. I’ve heard about adding cinnamon, but I have never tried it.

  • Reply Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle January 29, 2024 at 8:19 am

    I still swear by honey and lime and leaf-of-life bush tea to this day! I have the plant growing in my yard 🙂

    • Reply Kimberley January 29, 2024 at 9:21 am

      Same here with the honey and lime, I have childhood trauma surrounding leaf-of-life so I stay away from it lol. But at least I know who I can get in from in Kingston.

  • Reply The FoodOlic January 29, 2024 at 7:46 am

    YEs! Agree with all the points, Vitamin C is always a winner to keep this flu away! I like those popular fresh tiny immune shots, I always take one a day when my kids have the flu. This boost of vitamin c always works!

    • Reply Kimberley January 29, 2024 at 9:14 am

      Nice, my go-to supplement when fruits aren’t available is Redoxon vitamin C tablets. It works wonders.

  • Reply Tessa Doghor January 29, 2024 at 7:44 am

    Fruits are great for keeping healthy in the winter or summer.

    Thank you for the insightful tips.

    • Reply Kimberley January 29, 2024 at 9:00 am

      I agree, thanks for reading!

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