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List of Medicinal Plants Used in Trinidad and Tobago for Diabetes

Trinidad and Tobago plants for diabetes

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are known for having a long list of medicinal plants that are used by many locals, as a part of traditional healing and to improve and maintain health. Below are a list of some of these plants that have historically been used as antidiabetics (use against diabetes) on these islands.

Plants Historically used as Anti-diabetics in Trinidad and Tobago

Scientific NameFamily 1Local Name(s)Plant PartDistribution / Native Range2
Abrus precatorius L.Fabaceaecrab eye/ licorice/ jumbie beadaerial partsNative to Africa, temperate and
tropical Asia, Australia & the Pacific; naturalized in the neotropics.
Ageratum conyzoides (L.) L.Asteraceaezeb-a-famrootNative to South America and the
Caribbean; naturalized and/or cultivated globally
Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f.Xanthorrhoeaceaealoesnot specifiedNative to Canary Islands and North
Africa; widely cultivated and naturalized
Annona muricata L.Annonaceaesoursopnot specifiedNeotropical origin – West Indies; naturalized across the tropics; widely
Antigonon leptopus Hook. &
PolygonaceaecoralitavineNative to Mexico & Central America;
naturalized and cultivated elsewhere
Aristolochia rugosa Lam.Aristolochiaceaematrootwhole plantNative to South America and the
Aristolochia trilobata L.Aristolochiaceaetwef or trefleavesNative to South America and the
Caribbean; often cultivated
Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson ex F.A.Zorn) FosbergMoraceaebreadfruityellowing leavesNative to tropical Asia--Melanesia and Polynesia; naturalized in the Pacific; cultivated throughout the
Azadirachta indica A. JussMeliaceaeneem/nim or neebleavesNative to tropical Asia; naturalized
and cultivated elsewhere
Bidens pilosa L.Asteraceaeneedle grass/ railway daisyleavesExact native range obscure—includes North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean; naturalized
Bixa orellana L.Bixaceaeroucou/rukuleaves, rootNative to American tropics; excl. Caribbean; cultivated and naturalized
elsewhere in tropics
Bontia daphnoides L.Scrophulariaceaeolive bushleavesNative to the Caribbean and
Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.Fabaceaepigeon peasleaves and
Widely cultivated in the tropics;
originated in India
Cannabis sativa L.Cannabaceaeganja/marijuanaleaves, shoots and seedsProbable origin - Central Asia; now widely naturalized and cultivated
Carica papaya L.Caricaceaepaw-pawgreen fruitNative to S. Mexico and Central America; naturalized in the Caribbean & African tropics; cultivated
Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. DonApocynaceaeperiwinklewhole herb (flowers,
leaves, root)
Native to Madagascar; naturalized and cultivated in tropics and
Chromolaena odorata (L.)
R.M. King & H. Rob.
AsteraceaeChristmas bushflowersNative in neotropics, incl.
Caribbean; naturalized and cultivated in tropics worldwide
Cissampelos pareira L.MenispermaceaepataçonrootNative range from Mexico to
Argentina and incl. Caribbean
Citrus x aurantium L.Rutaceaesour orangefruit peelWidely cultivated in tropics and
subtropics; hybrid (C. reticulata x C. maxima)3 originating in China
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt.Cucurbitaceaeparwar/ wild cucumber/ ivy
leaf juiceNative to Asia, African tropics and Australia; naturalized in Fiji;
cultivated elsewhere
Cocos nucifera L.Arecaceaecoconutshell, flowerNative to parts of tropical Asia (including South East Asian islands and South margin of India), Pacific and Australia; widely naturalized and
Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott &
Malvaceaeobie seedseedNative to West African tropics;
cultivated elsewhere
Colubrina arborescens (Mill.) Sarg.RhamnaceaemaubybarkNative to Central and North America
(N.B. localized to south Florida), and the Caribbean
Cordia curassavica (Jacq.)
Roem. & Schult.
Boraginaceaeblack sagenot specifiedNative range from Mexico to
Argentina and incl. Caribbean
Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) StapfPoaceaefever grassnot specifiedOriginated in SE Asia; naturalized in
Argentina and Chile; cultivated elsewhere.
Eryngium foetidum L.Apiaceaebandhaniya/ fit weed/shado benileaves, rootsNative to Central and South America & the Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere including N. America
(Dade county, Florida)
Gomphrena globosa L.Amaranthaceaebachelor buttonleavesWidely cultivated & naturalized,
exact native range obscure; probable origin -Neotropics
Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.Convolvulaceaekharmi bhajileaves and tender stemsNative to S.E. Asia (Austin 2007)4; naturalized elsewhere including the Americas and the Pacific; widely cultivated
Laportea aestuans (L.) ChewUrticaceaestinging nettleleavesNative to tropics in Africa and America, incl. Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere
Leonotis nepetifolia (L.) R. Br.Lamiaceaeshandilaynot specifiedOriginated in tropical Africa; naturalized across pantropics
Momordica charantia L.Cucurbitaceaecoraillee/ caraailileaves, fruitNative to Africa, Asia and Australia; naturalized in American tropics; widely cultivated
Moringa oleifera Lam.MoringaceaesaijanleavesNative to Indian subcontinent; cultivated elsewhere
Morus alba L.Moraceaepawi bushnot specifiedNative to temperate Asia; widely naturalized and cultivated in temperate and tropical areas
Musa x paradisiaca L.Musaceaesilk figleavesIndo/Malaysian origin; widely cultivated
Neurolaena lobata (L.) R.Br. ex Cass.Asteraceaezeb-a-pik/ zebapiqueleavesNative to American tropics, incl.
Passiflora quadrangularis L.Passifloraceaebarbadine/ granadillaleavesOriginated in neotropics; widely cultivated in the tropics
Persea americana Mill.Lauraceaezaboca/avocadoseedOriginated in Central America – Mexico & Guatemala; naturalized in Pacific.
Phyllanthus amarus
Schumach. & Thonn.
Phyllanthaceaeseed-under-leafnot specifiedNative to tropical America, incl. Caribbean; naturalized in paleotropics
Phyllanthus urinaria L.Phyllanthaceaeseed-under-leafnot specifiedNative to temperate and tropical regions in Asia as well as the western Pacific; naturalized elsewhere in the tropics
Pityrogramma calomelanos
(L.) Link
Pteridaceaestamp fernwhole plantNative to neotropics, incl. Caribbean; naturalized in paleotropics
Ruellia tuberosa L.Acanthaceaeminny rootroot, leavesNative to Central America; naturalized in South America & Caribbean and across paleotropics
Scoparia dulcis L.Plantaginaceaesweet broomwhole herbNeotropical origin; widely naturalized in tropics and subtropics
5 Senna fruticosa (Mill.) H.S. Irwin & BarnebyFabaceaechristmas bushflowersNative to Mexico and Central America, excl. Caribbean
5 Senna italica Mill.Fabaceaesennanot specifiedNative to Africa, tropical and temperate regions in Asia; naturalized in Venezuela
Spermacoce verticillata L.Rubiaceaewhite head broomwhole herbNative in neotropics from Mexico to Paraguay; incl. the Caribbean; naturalized elsewhere
Spiranthes acaulis (Sm.) Cogn.Orchidaceaelapsogennot specifiedNative in Central to South America and Trinidad and Tobago
Spondias mombin L.Anacardiaceaehog plumleavesNative to tropical America; obscure native range in West Indies; widely cultivated in paleotropics
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis
(L.) Vahl
Verbenaceaevervine/ vervainnot specifiedNative to American tropics, incl. Caribbean; widely naturalized in paleotropics & Polynesia

1. Listing of Family names based on information from Stevens (2001) and The Plant List (2013)
2. Unless indicated otherwise, places of origin / distribution ranges were sourced from GRIN (2016) and Tropicos (2016)
3. IPNI (2012) entry for Citrus aurantium L. indicates probable hybrid of C. maxima x C. reticulata
4. Austin 2007, states that Ipomoea aquatica originated in S.E. Asia (includes China & India) but was introduced elsewhere.
5. Originally listed as Cassia spp, these species have been assigned to the genus Senna based on shared floral morphology as described in Irwin and Barneby 1982.

Source: Angelle L. Bullard-Roberts. Medicinal Plants of Trinidad and Tobago: Selection of Antidiabetic Remedies (Florida International University)

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