Quaco (Mikania micrantha) medicinal herb is a well known plant to Jamaicans. It is a perennial herbaceous plant or creeper from the Asteraceae family. It can be found running on the sides of the streets, on various shrubs, plants and trees. I have some grown banana plants at my home and quaco bush can be found all over them. They grow very quickly and if they are not controlled they can stifle the survival of the plants that they creep on. It is native to North, Central and South America as well the West Indies.
It is used as medicine in Mizoram State of India as well as Japan, where it is known as Japan Hlo. It is popularly used to treat specific ailments of children in Jamaica.
The common names are Quaco, Quaco bush, Quako, Bitter vine, Climbing hempvine, Mile-a-minute as well as Gwaco. The medicinal properties are antimicrobial, astringent, antibacterial and antiseptic.
One of the many uses of quaco leaves is that they are excellent for various types of skin rashes, including eczema. Eczema is a very common skin condition that affects thousands of children. My niece suffers from eczema and so this is one of the remedies that I use to help alleviate this condition. A mother in my community is convinced that this was the plant that completely healed her son who troubled with terrible eczema.
It is also good to treat colds, digestive conditions, pains in the stomach. To use it on the skin for skin rashes, we crushed the leaves until they sud and then rub it on the affected areas or the crushed leaves can be placed in water making it an herbal bath. Some people will boil the leaves and then use the water as a bath but many persons are convinced that it is more effective when the fresh leaves are crushed and used in their natural state.
It can be used to treat and combat external bleeding but minor ones. It is also an excellent remedy to heal cuts and bruises. These are some of the reasons that the leaves are so good for the skin.
Some person are allergic to certain plants if they are rubbed on the skin. Therefore, it would be best for those persons to consume the tea which will give the same benefits.
I remembered how a group of us ladies met on the street one day and was talking of the benefits of these plants that we have around us. Then the name quaco was mentioned by one of the ladies and surprisingly enough it was right there beside us growing on a shrub along the wayside.
There is no standard dosage. However, three to five leaves may be placed in boiling water and steeped for up to ten minutes and consume two cups of quaco leaves tea two times per day.