Jamaican Dogwood Bark: Benefits and Tips for Use

Jamaican Dogwood Bark: Benefits and Tips for Use
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Piscidia Piscipula

Jamaican dogwood is a tropical tree that grows in the West Indies, Central America, Florida, and Texas. The bark contains several active phytochemicals which gives it its medicinal properties, including glycosides, flavonoids, rotenone, and resin alkaloid. Jamaican dogwood acts primarily as a sedative and a natural pain reliever (anodyne).

While a powerful and valuable herb for many common conditions, from arthritis to insomnia, Jamaican dogwood bark should not be used in excess. While not dangerous to humans if used properly, the plant has been historically used in the West Indies as a fish poison. There is potential for an adverse effect if used improperly. What exactly are the Jamaican dogwood benefits and when can this potent plant be safely used?

Medicinal Benefits

Jamaican dogwood is most suited for treating conditions related to pain, tension, and nervousness. It sedates and calms, allowing the body to relax and sleep peacefully. It also effectively manages pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, animal testing has shown that bark extracts also have anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.

With some of these conditions it can be both difficult and exhausting to manage pain, such as arthritis, migraines, and fibromyalgia. While this medicinal bark must be used with care and should be taken only after talking to a health care professional, it does offer a natural solution to incessant pain. Jamaican dogwood can be beneficial for:

  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Nervous tension
  • Nerve pain
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Joint pain
  • Muscular aches

How to Use

To make a tea from this herb add one teaspoonful of the dried bark to a cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about ten minutes. Drink only as necessary, no more than three cups throughout the day. You can also take Jamaican dogwood in tincture form, about one mL up to three times daily. This herb combines well with valerian when using for insomnia. For dysmenorrhea try combining with the herb black haw.

Side Effects

What are the potential side effects of Jamaican dogwood bark? A strong sedative this herb can be too sedating for some people. Never take this herb in conjunction with alcohol, drugs, or any prescription medications for anxiety or before operating machinery. Do not take more than the recommended dose; an overdose can lead to numbness, tremors, and sweating. To be safe this herb should not be taken by children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are taking any type of prescription medication make sure you talk to your doctor before use. As this herb is powerful it is best to use the bark under the supervision of a health care professional who is well-versed in herbal medicine.

Because of its potency there are many Jamaican dogwood benefits. For the same reason this herb needs to be used with caution. If taken properly and with the guidance of a health care professional it can be a great aid for people looking for natural sedation and pain relief.


Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996)

University of Maryland Medical Center “Jamaica dogwood” https://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/jamaica-dogwood-000258.htm

Natural Pharmacy “Alternative Treatment for Arthritis” https://www.naturalnurse.com/arthritis.htm

photo by Sasha Wolff


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