Medicinal Plants of St.Kitts and Nevis(2001) by Dr Milton Whittaker is an excellent collection of information on the properties and uses of medicinal plants in the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The book is an interesting combination of science and folk wisdom. Based on numerous interviews of older rural folks the book provides a history of our foreparents’ use of plants to treat a variety of aches and pains and illnesses. In this respect it is a tribute to the resourcefulness and intelligence of our ancestors and a catalogue of the country’s unique biodiversity and traditions.
On the other hand the book is a carefully researched scientific volume. It is a combination of previously published volumes 1 and 2. Plants are listed by their botanical names as well as their common names, a description of each plant and a line drawing is provided to aid recognition. A listing of the chemical constituent of each plant is included in this volume and what most readers would find useful is a listing of plant according to the ailments for which it is used. This ranges from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.
This book comes at a time when herbal medicine is being recognised as an alternative treatment . It is a timely documentation of indigenous knowledge that is usually passed on in the oral forms and which could have been lost, as younger generations may have lost interest in alternative medicine.
Whittaker includes the traditional uses of all parts of the plant, and remedies are given in various forms as decoctions, teas, baths and direct application of plant parts to ailing limbs.
Researchers and students would find extremely useful information included on toxicity levels of various plants. This book will appeal to layman, student, researcher, environmentalist and scientist.
Copies are available at Mini Walls store and the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society. Inquiries can be made by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Theresa Nisbett 2002
Mavis Matthew (read bio)