New Book, "Bush Medicine of the Bahamas," Preserves Knowledge of Bahamian Traditional Medicine and Tropical Plants Used to Treat Common Ailments and Diseases

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Ethnobotanist, Jeffrey H. McCormack, Ph.D., announces the release of his new book, “Bush Medicine of the Bahamas.” McCormack says that what makes the book unique is the multi-dimensional approach. It includes a materia medica, pharmacological notes, oral histories, and cross-cultural uses of Bahamian medicinal plants, and it can be used a field guide to medicinal plants.

The residents of the Bahamas practice a form of traditional medicine using tropical plants for curing diseases and treating ailments. On his website (http://www.bushmedicine.org) lead author, Jeffrey H. McCormack, Ph.D., writes that the enslaved African ancestors of the Bahamian people brought to the New World a practical knowledge of medicinal plants, and a legacy of "medicinal plant literacy" that helped them "read" and recognize the potential healing qualities of the many new and unfamiliar plants of the Bahamas. Under the influence of European and colonial practices, their diverse beliefs and healing practices were then simplified, distilled, transformed, reformulated, and further refined by generations of experimentation. This distinctive form of medicine is of value today for what it tells us of a unique culture, traditional healing, and the therapeutic value of their plants.

This book, a comprehensive treatment of Bahamian bush medicine on San Salvador Island, is dedicated to the preservation and continued use of this knowledge before it is lost. Chapters explore the cultural roots, principles, and practice of bush medicine. The materia medica covers 120 medicinal plants and 22 non-botanical remedies, including details of administration and dosage, pharmacology, and cross-cultural uses of bush medicine. Throughout the book, colorful oral histories provide details of the healers' practices and glimpses of the culture of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. What makes the book sing are the oral histories and personal stories. As internationally-celebrated nature writer, Gary Paul Nabhan has written, “... what beautiful stories they are, some of them with healing power in their own right.”

This book can also serve as a field guide to medicinal flora and will therefore be of interest to nature-minded travelers throughout the Caribbean. Currently, it is available through several distributors in the Bahamas and U.S., and online at http://www.bushmedicine.org/orders-retail.html

Published by JHM Designs Publications, Charlottesville, VA, this is a large hardcover book (9” x 12” x 1”) of nearly 400 pages, including 161 illustrations (104 in color). Additional illustrations include photographs of bush medicine practitioners and island landscapes where they harvest their plant medicines. One of the appendices contains a dictionary of Bahamian dialect.

Excellent advance reviews from Gary Paul Nabhan, James A. Duke, Rosita Arvigo, and Roy Upton. For example: "This is the most comprehensive and richest ethnobotanical presentation on traditional bush medicine that I have seen ..." For additional information see "Reviews" at http://www.bushmedicine.org/reviews-bush-medicine.html

The lead author, Jeffrey Holt McCormack, Ph.D., is formerly a faculty member at Middlebury College, and the University of Virginia. Trained in natural products chemistry and physiological plant ecology he has worked in the fields of sustainable agriculture, genetic preservation, plant breeding, and ethnobotany. Co-author, Kathleen Maier, P.A., RH, is a nationally known herbalist, and recipient of the first Medicinal Plant Conservation Award bestowed by the United Plant Savers. Co-author, Patty Wallens, M.A., has a background in child development, family relations, medical interviewing and home-based counseling.

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