Posted on by J P

If you spend a minimum of 30 minutes around a Haitian elder they’ll cure you of something. The sharing of healing is as Haitian as you can get. When confronted with uncertainty, naturally one runs back to their roots. It is of no wonder, that when “the rona” came knocking, many turned to traditional healing methods. After all, we are faced with an uncertain deadly pandemic with no known treatments.

When it comes to matters of traditional medicine, you don’t get these things second or third hand, you get them right from the source. You see, the source is always the “eldest elder” as they’ve seen and learned the most. If you are not familiar with how one finds “the source” in Haiti, here is the gist. The source never has a phone on her, and if she owns one its never charged. To contact her on the top of the mountain where she prefers to live, you have to call at least three people, who can call someone, one who calls someone else, and one who eventually sends word directly to her.

Our source this time around is St. Theraise, she doesn’t know how old she is, but like every family matron, she’s a force of nature. She has 9 grandchildren, though she bends over with more flexibility than me in my 30s. By the end of a conversation with her you are dehydrated but also armed with generations of knowledge and immunity building herbal leaves.

St. Theraise unloads her sack full of leaves, each handful she pulls out she puts in a pile, “sa se pou rann fyev la ale” “this one is to send fevers away,” “Sa se pou chans” “this is for good luck,” “Sa se pou ande dan” “this is for inside (immunity building).”

Science of course is rooted in nature, so we now have an explanation for what we’ve always known as immunity boosters. Here are some basic Haitian serums/Detox for immunity boosting that we run to:


Haitian Serum 1

  • Turmeric + ginger
  • Honey
  • Lime
  • Raw Crushed garlic (optional)
Simmer bits of peeled turmeric and ginger in filtered water then stir in honey. Pour into a cup, squeeze juice from a quarter of one lime and add 1 clove of crushed garlic. Sip every morning on an empty stomach.

Haitian Serum 2

This one is used usually when you already feel a cold coming on and/or you have a cough.
  • Sliced onion
  • Honey
Pour 2 large spoons of honey over ½ chopped honey, mix variously and let mix for several hours or overnight. Take 2-3 spoons of this concoction daily until your cough goes away.

Haitian Detox Serum 1

  • 1 Cup of Young Okra
  • 3 cups of filtered water
Let young okra (okra that is just about ready to harvest) sit in the water in your refrigerator overnight, sip the water periodically.

Haitian Detox Serum 2

  • 6 1-inch strips of peeled Aloe
  • 1 Quart of water
  • Juice from 1 lemon (optional)
Some families learned to eat the strips of peeled aloe, some families soak them in water. The taste of aloe is quite bitter, so usually soaked in water with lemon cuts down the bitter taste.

Haitian Detox Bath

  • Papaya leaves
  • Lime leaves
  • Bitter Melon Leaves (cerasee)
  • Orange Tree Leaves
  • Mango Tree Bark
Boil 4 quarts of water and generously add the leaves and tree bark. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow leaves to steep. You can set aside one cup to drink, sweetened with sugar or honey. Pour the remainder into a cool large bath along with leaves. Get inside and relax.


Of course, like all traditions passed down orally, each family/elder has its own variation. Modern medicine tells us the treatments above work because of the following properties:

Garlic: packed with allicin, which has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal properties. Allicin is what gives garlic its distinctive hot flavor.

Honey: antioxidant and antibacterial properties help improve the digestive system and boost immunity

Turmeric: is a natural way to help bolster the immune system by increasing the immunomodulating capacity of the body.

Ginger: contains magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium for natural immune-boosting.

Aloe: Aloe vera is packed full of immune-boosting polysaccharides which help the immune system to behave properly.

Onions: are packed with immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C.

Lime: Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all.

Green Leaves: have inflammatory and antioxidant effects

How about your tribe? Join the conversation on social media, what are your family's immunity-boosting serums.

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