What Is Jamaican Dogwood?

Jamaican dogwood, also known as Piscidia piscipula, is a tropical tree mostly found in Florida, Central America, and the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean.

This tree has a long medicinal history and has been used for treating migraine, sleeplessness, anxiety, and nerve pain for centuries.

Today, Jamaican dogwood can be found easily in drug stores ad online. These are typically sold as a tinctured extract of the root bark. Despite its long history in traditional medicine, this tree does not have much modern research to show its benefits. However, the stem of this tree is used in different supplements and home remedies.

This herb effectively treats anxiety, depression, and sleep disorder. This is because of the Antispasmodic and anxiolytic properties of this herb. Not only this, but Jamaican dogwood also has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it helpful in treating pain.

History and Plant Description

Jamcia dogwood is native to Central America, the Caribbean, and Florida. But now, this tree can be found in Mexico, Texas, and other Northern parts of South Africa.

The bark of Jamaican dogwood has a yellow to grayish-brown color from the outer surface and light color on the inside.

Jamaica dogwood does not have good taste. It is bitter and causes a burning sensation in the mouth; the bark of this plant also has an unpleasant odor.

Jamaica dogwood has been used traditional remedy for migraine, insomnia, fear, nervous tension, and anxiety for centuries.

In early 1884, Jamaican dogwood was discovered as a pain reliever and sweat promoter by Western scientists.

It has been used as a fish poison throughout Central and South America. A substance present within this herb is also used in insecticides to control lice, larvae, and fleas.


Leaves are pinnately compounds, with 9-23 cm in length. The leaves have almost 5-9 leaflets, which are greyish to green-yellow in color.

Flower and Fruit:

Flowers of Jamaican dogwood are white in color with pink or red-tinged, which looks like a pea-like cluster.

The tree flowers only when it reaches 4m in length. The flowers developed into a bean-like pod that has light brown color and papery fur wings. The pod has 8-10 lengths which ripen from July to august.

Uses and benefits of 

Jamaican dogwood is a medium-sized tree that is mostly found in Central America, Texas and Florida.

Traditional uses of Jamaican Dogwood

Jamaican dogwood has been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years. This tree has been researched to be effective in various health conditions, like insomnia and anxiety, and in treating nerve pain.

However, there are some other uses of Jamaican dogwood as well:

  • It is used to treat migraine, dysmenorrhea, and insomnia caused because of nervous tension and neuralgia. It also works as a daytime sedative and reduces anxiety and fear.
  • In French Guiana Galini, it is used as an analgesic for toothache and as a soporific for insomnia. It is also very effective for nerve pain.
  • The herb of Jamaican dogwood has pain-relieving and sweat-promoting properties, making them a good option to relieve muscle spasms or pain in another body part, like headache or back pain.
  • The plant is also used as a treatment for a nervous breakdown, menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea, and toothaches.
  • A decoction is made from the bark of the Jamaican dogwood, which is used to provide relief from cold and cough, and fever.
  • It is also effective for various skin problems and is used as an external washing agent.

Health Benefits of Jamaican Dogwood:

Jamaican dogwood not only has had traditional uses for centuries but is also used to treat various chronic diseases and in some important medications. This is all due to its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and antioxidant properties.

1.   Helps in Relieving Pain:

Jamaican dogwood is considered to have a pain-relieving effect, and that’s why it has been used in various home remedies to relieve pain for centuries.

There are minimal studies about the benefits of this herb on pain. However it has quite strong historical usage, as it was heavily used by eclectic physicians, who describe it as:

“In Tested patients, this herb can control and relieve general stress. And works as a nerve sedative and overcomes nervous excitability. It is an antispasmodic of more power in some cases.”

Moreover, the anti-inflammatory property of this herb can also be very helpful in reducing pain. This is because when our body is in pain, it has an inflammatory response, which increases the pain. Therefore when the inflammation reduces, the pain automatically reduces.

2.   Helps with insomnia:

Jamaican dogwood has also been very famous due to its ability to improve sleep and reduce the risk of insomnia.

One animal study has shown that this herb has a sedative effect and can influence the central nervous system.

That animal study also looked into some other herbs like chamomile and valerian, and in the result, the researchers found out that the Jamaican dogwood is in the middle of both these herbs in both sedative and anxiolytic effects.

It is also mentioned in the historical medical texts that Jamaican dogwood can helps in reducing pain, allays nervous excitability, overcome spasm, and improves sleep.

It has been a favorite remedy to treat prolonged insomnia, especially for aged patients and for those with an excessive nervous temperament.

3.   Antispasmodic properties:

Jamaican dogwood has also been used historically for its antispasmodic effects. Research has also shown that Jamaican dogwood contains isoflavones with spasmolytic principles. Eclectic physicians used this herb for colds, coughs, asthma, and other spasmodic disorders.

Moreover, this herb has also been considered to have anti-bacterial properties and has been used traditionally for centuries for treating bacterial infections. Jamaican dogwood can also reduce inflammation.

This antispasmodic property of Jamaican dogwood can also help relieve pain due to muscle constriction, such as lower back pain.

Moreover, this herb also contains antioxidants, which kill free radicals and help in preventing the risk of various diseases by improving the immune system.

4.   Anxiolytic properties:

Jamaican dogwood is considered to be very effective in influencing and relaxing the nervous system. This gives this herb its powerful anxiolytic properties.

The eclectics have noted that this herb works as a nerve sedative and can overcome reflex irritability and nervous excitability.

Anxiety and stress have become common these days. It affects not only the mental health of a person, but anxiety is also linked with other health issues, including hypertension, heart stroke, and obesity.

There are a lot of people who end up stress-eating whenever they are depressed, which means they are in taking extra fats and calories. This can result in obesity and high cholesterol levels.

As Jamaican dogwood can relax the nervous system, it can also help in relieving anxiety and depression.

That’s why his herb is used in traditional medicine for anxiety and stress. However, some additional research is required.

How to Use Jamaican Dogwood?

The Jamaican dogwood stem or bark is the only part that can be used for overall purposes. It can be prepared into a decoction, tincture, or tea.

  • Decoction: Research has shown that Jamaican dogwood’s properties can be leached easily when soaked into the water. So to make an effective decoction, hot water is necessary. To make a decoction from the herb, you just have to 2-3 grams of the dried tree bark into the 250 ml cup of water and boil it on a low flame for 10 o 15 minutes.
  • Tea: Jamaican dogwood tea is very popular as it is used for treating cold, cough, and asthma. To make this herb, simply boil the dried bark in the water and drain it. You can also add some honey for the sweet flavor. But always use ceramic or glass cups for making this tea so it could not get contaminated. Because when metal containers are used, this herb can react with the metal and can pollute the tea.
  • Tincture: Jamaican dogwood is also used as a tincture; to make a tincture, all you have to do is to add this herb to the adulterated ethanol with a ratio of 1:5 and let it mix properly. This tincture is recommended to take into portions two or three times a day. But you can also follow the physician’s direction while taking it.

Precautions and Safety

Jamaican dogwood is a herb that should be used with great precaution and care and not be used by pregnant or nursing women.

No doubt that this herb has been used to strengthen the body and treat diseases for centuries, but it also contains some components which can interact with other herbs, medication, or supplements and can trigger side effects.

For all these reasons, this herb should take with care and under the health care provider’s supervision.

Overdose of Jamaican dogwood can be very toxic. A few common symptoms of overdosage are tremors, salivation, sweating, and numbness.

Seek medical attention immediately in case you experience any of these symptoms after taking this herb.

Not only the pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it, but it is not a good option for the elderly either. It can also have side effects like nausea, depression, and gastric distress.

Possible Interactions:

There is not much research on Jamaican dogwood on humans, so it is had to say about the interactions of this hweb with other medication or supplements.

However, some studies have shown the sedative effect of Jamaican dogwood, which means it can increase the effect of other drugs and medications like central nervous system depressants, which are used to treat anxiety or insomnia. 

So it is not recommended to take Jamaican dogwood in any form, whether it’s tea or supplements, if you are taking any supplements for insomnia or anxiety. There are also some concerns that Jamaican dogwood can react poorly to the anesthesia, so try not to use this herb at least 2 weeks before the surgery.


  • The recommended dosage for tincture Is 2-4 ml as needed
  • While taking decoction, add 1 tablespoon of dried root into one cup of water and let it boil slowly for 15 minutes. Drink as needed or prescribed.
  • In the case of capsules, make sure to take the capsules which are not more than 2-4 grams of the dried root bark.
  • Jamaican dogwood is mostly sold in the form of pieces that are 1-2 inches in length and 1-8 inches thick. Different regions sold different types of pieces. So, the chemical constituents of Jamaican dogwood can vary depending on different geographic regions.


Jamaican dogwood is very popular as an effective supplement for those who are suffering from pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

Jamaican dogwood is a tree native to Florida, Central America, and the West Indies. The bark of this tree has been used for centuries to make medicines and remedies.

Jamaican dogwood has been used to treat various medical conditions, including sleep disorders, anxiety, migraines, nerve pain, and anxiety.

This herb also has the ability to reduce inflammation and decrease muscle spasms in internal organs. Due to its anxiolytic properties, Jamaican dogwood is considered to be very effective in improving the Central nervous system.

 But there is not much evidence about this herb’s benefits or safety. And it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Due to its high sedative effect, this herb can also react with some medications for insomnia or anxiety.

So, be careful while using the Jamaican dogwood, the higher dosage of this herb can result in severe side effects like nausea, numbness, sweating, and depression.

If you experience these symptoms after taking Jamaican dogwood, seek medical help immediately. And before adding any supplements to your diet, consult your doctor first.

More herbal information:

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