Jamaica Fiwi Roots

Guinea Hen Weed

Jamaica Plants and Herbal Remedies

Guinea Hen Weed

IMPORTANT: The information provided is for information only. The medical claims or advice are not endorsed.  Never take any medicines without first consulting a qualified practitioner.

Guinea Hen Weed, also known as garlic weed, gully root, anamu and Petiveria alliacea, is a well-known Jamaican remedy for headaches, fever and colds. There are several ways of using it, such grating and steeping the root in rum before rubbing the mixture over the head or simply tying leaves to your head.

The pure root extract is toxic in high doses if taken internally, and may cause miscarriages.


Guinea hen weed is found in the Amazon rainforest and tropical areas of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and some southern states of the US such as Florida. It has a long history as a medicinal plant in the Amazon, where it is known as Anamu. Its main use is for colds and as a pain reliever for headaches, rheumatism and arthritis.

The plant is said to have magical powers and is commonly used in magic rituals. The root is said to be more powerful than the leaves. The strong smelling leaves would be scattered around the room to "to keep away duppies" (unfriendly spirits).

The root is traditionally used in an insecticide preparation, probably because of its strong smell.

Guinea hen weed has been widely studied in the laboratory. Its traditional use for arthritis and rheumatism has been supported by research, which shows it does have anti-inflammatory properties and may stimulate the immune system.

Plant-screening tests have also shown that it contains chemicals active against some types of cancer cells, including forms of leukaemia and breast cancer, although the effect varies. Other studies claim it is active against many strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast.


Main Preparation Method: capsules or infusion

Main Actions (in order):

  1. anti-cancerous
  2. anti-viral
  3. anti-candidal
  4. anti-bacterial
  5. immune stimulant

Main Uses:

  1. for cancer and leukemia
  2. for immune disorders (to stimulate immune function and immune cell production)
  3. for colds, flu, and viruses
  4. for Candida and other yeast infections
  5. for urinary tract infections

Properties of Guinea Hen Weed

There have been several properties and/or resulting actions of guinea hen weed documented through research and traditional use. The table below provides a summary of each.

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:

  • abortive
  • analgesic (pain-reliever)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-leukemic
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-cancerous
  • anti-candidal
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-protozoal
  • anti-tumorous
  • anti-viral
  • COX-inhibitor (linked to inflammation)
  • hypoglycemic
  • immune stimulant
  • uterine stimulant

Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:

  • anti-anxiety
  • anti-oxidant
  • anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic
  • diaphoretic (promotes sweating)
  • diuretic
  • febrifuge (reduces fever)
  • insecticide
  • menstrual stimulant
  • sedative
  • vermifuge (expels worms)


Abortive and Hypoglycemic effects.

Anamu has been found to cause contractions of the uterus that can lead to abortions and miscarriages. As such, it should not be used by pregnant women.

Anamu contains a low concentration of a blood thinner called coumadin. People with any bleeding disorder like hemophilia or who are on blood thinning medication should consult their health-care provider before using anamu.