Majoe bitters (Picramnia antidesma) medicinal herb, also referred to as Cascara amarga is a plant that is native to Jamaica and other West Indian islands as well as South Guiana. This is a herb that is commonly used in Jamaica and it is from the Simaroubaceae family. It is used as a great tonic by many persons. I was reminded by one of my cousins how my mother and grandmother would send us out to pick this plant so as to make tea for us. This was one of our cleansers, according to them.
It is said by Barham that the name 'Majoe' originated from an old negro
woman who utilized this medicinal herb to remedy venereal ailments as
well as yaws. These treatments were very successful according to
The main parts used as herbal medicine are the root and bark from the root. The medicinal properties are tonic, antispasmodic, emetic, bitter, purgative and diaphoretic. This is really classed as a bitter medicinal herb. The bitterness of this plant keeps insects away.
The common names are Majoe, Picramnia antidesma, Cascara amarga, Simaruba Honduras bark and Mountain Damson bark. One of its constituents is a bitter alkaloid.
A small amount of the tea made from the leaves was traditionally used to treat teething babies. I doubt this is common anymore but that was what mothers relied on when the babies were teething. They refused from going into stores to purchase any remedy for this condition. This tea was combined with baby's formula to masked the taste.
One majoe leaf in twelve fluid ounces of water is very sufficient and
this can be given to babies every morning until teething is done away
with. This treatment can be very effective. However, this should not
be done frequently.
This bitter herb is excellent to cure fevers, colic, skin ulcers, syphilis, diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery.
Some persons are so very afraid of consuming bitters. Aloe Vera
is one bitter herb that is avoided by many persons although they
themselves acknowledged that there are great benefits to be derived from
it. Majoe is one such herb that many are also afraid to use because of
However, we all need to get pass the thought of the bitterness and think of what bitters can do for us in a healthy way. Bitter herbs can help to purify and detoxify the blood. They will help the liver in the process of detoxification, promote bile flow, stimulate appetite and digestive juices, as well as stimulate pancreatic enzymes.
An infusion of four tablespoons of majoe bitters taken every six hours is a standard dosage.
Updated February 17, 2020
Updated March 3, 2015