Deciduous tree or shrub growing to 49 ft (15 m). Compound leaves, blue to white flowers with red stripes, and winged seed pods.
Habitat & Cultivation
Jamaica dogwood is native to the southern U.S., Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. It is grown mainly for its wood, which is used in boat-building. The root bark is stripped when the tree is felled.
Jamaica dogwood contains isoflavones, phytosterols, tannins, and organic acids. The isoflavones are antispasmodic.
History & Folklore
The pounded bark and twigs have been used by Native Caribs and Afro-Caribbeans to stupefy fish.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Jamaica dogwood is a useful and undervalued remedy that acts both as a sedative and as a painkiller. It is chiefly employed in the treatment of insomnia and over excitability, as it calms mental activity. It is also prescribed for nerve pain, toothache, and period pain. As an antispasmodic, it is useful for treating muscle spasms, especially in the back, and spasmodic respiratory ailments such as asthma and whooping cough.
Do not take Jamaica dogwood during pregnancy or if you are suffering from heart problems.