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Columns : Let's Grow Bahamas Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014 - 5:05:44 PM


Bush Medicine: Match Me if You Can (Jacob's Coat)
By Luckner Timothee
Dec 1, 2012 - 5:38:10 PM

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The author, Luckner Timothee of Grand Bahama Island with "Match Me if You Can" or Acalypha wilkesina.

I am one of the fortunate ones to have a hobby like mine that entails me working in the environment I love and also to teach and learn an incredible amount of information on bush medicine.  It has become so big a hobby in my life that I have dedicated a portion of myself to the study of plants and their medicinal values and for that I have turned to oral and our ancestral studies. The beauty of this hobby of mine is even though I am still a beginner. I can walk in almost anyone’s backyard and tell a story about a plant and today I am in a friend’s yard to tell you about this one and its medicinal values.

This encounter is none other than “Match me if you can” “Acalypha wilkesina”  or “Jacobs Coat”. This plant is used more as an ornamental plant nowadays than anything else, but very few people  know of this plant for its medicinal purposes. 

There are about 750 different varieties in the world and you can find them in national parks and as a favorite décor of many homes. “Match me if you can” is a common plant here in The Bahamas because its dark red and brown colors never really matching hence the name I believe.

Island folks believe this plant to have many purposes, one was to fight off cold and flu virus although as most bush medicines they were either boiled or steeped. This one was used a little differently. The trick to this plant when used by some Bahamians on the Family Islands was simply to put it on the inside of your shoe and the belief was that the leaf extract would somehow enter the blood stream thereby flushing the system of the cold and flu.  Another way this was used was to ease pain by crushing the leaves and applying it to the affected area.

“Match me if you can,” is very popular in many places around the world from America, Fiji, Asia and West Africa. For decades the water extracts of (match me if you can) have been used to treat skin lesions of eczema. In most studies conducted in Africa on the usefulness of this plant found it a very useful source of skin medication and many medical doctors in Africa have suggested it as a cheap and effective way to treat skin lesions. Further it is used to treat gastrointestinal disorders as well.

Research of this plant showed that it contains alkaloids, flavoniods and caroteniods all of which contribute healthy effects to the body. These antioxidants are very powerful in helping the body to fight diseases. So the next time you encounter a” Match me if you can” plant try to remember that it is a very cheap and natural way to deal with a few common ills today.  Who knows, you might finally be able to cut down on your medical bill.


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