On Judith’s Hill, A Backyard Cure for Diabetes

The biodiversity of plants on St. Croix are a record of all of the various groups who have occupied the island. There are plants from the Mayan Peninsula of Central America, the Orinoco river of South America, the European Colonizers, the enslaved Africans and the Americans who are now in charge. All of our plants were brought here for a reason and it is fun to see where they came here from and why some groups of people would have gone to the trouble to do it.

When I refer to the plants of Judith’s Hill, I mean everything within a radius of one mile from the peak of the hill and my current focus is those plants mostly withing 1/2 mile of the hill top. Even in such a small area the topology goes from a drier barren hilltop of tuffaceous rock (compressed volcanic ash) to fertile plain which gets more rainfall. Both the hill and the plain are bordered by a shoreline. These diverse micro environments and soil types allow for a greater diversity of plants. Withing a mile of the top of the hill, there are also bays, lagoons and mangrove swamps. Some plants grow everywhere and others have a very small environmental niche.

Judiths Hill, half mile radius

The two plants below are from the fertile plains at the base of the hill but during rainy season they will move up the hill, particularly on the leeward side.

Skin ointment

Anyone living in the tropics will sooner or later get skin problems. We have skin cancer, fungus, bug bites allergic reactions. A few of these can be avoided but when mosquito season comes, it is impossible to avoid bites which get infected. After awhile, none of the issues hurt adults on a regular basis but for young children they will scratch until they damage their skin unless treated.

Cuscuta americana

Love Vine, Devils Guts, Strangle Vine or Dodder

Love vine, Devils Guts, Strangle vine or Dodder is a yellow vines on tree tops and shrubs. It was used locally as a powerful skin ointment which heals skin rashes, bug bites and itches. It grows on two Continents and is widely dispersed from Mexico and Florida to Argentina. From personal experience, this is one of the few herbal remedies that appears to be superior to the modern counterparts as it really dose stop itching and promote healing of oozing bug bites.


It is also unlikely that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were affected by modern diseases of like diabetes and coronary heart disease, because they ate mostly lean meats and plants and frequently engaged in intense physical activity. As man discovered agriculture,in the Neolithic surpluses led to a need for more agricultural labor to increase wealth and power, soldiers and wars to gather that labor and enforce a class system, and a privileged class of nobles and artisans. This transition brought with it the rise of modern diseases. (Cancer predates the Neolithic). It would appear that as subsistence people moved to agriculture, they needed to develop drugs to fight that disease.

Momordica charantia

Bitter Melon, Lizard Food, Jumbie Pumpkin or Cerasee

Bitter Melon, Lizard Food, Jumbie Pumpkin or Cerasee is one of the miracle foods of Herbal Medicine. It is eaten as a side dish because it is know to prevent and treat Malaria but hidden in that meal is a strong treatment for diabetes.

It appears the vegetable attacks diabetes in several ways. Compounds in bitter melon have been found to activate the protein that regulates glucose uptake which is a process which is impaired in diabetics. Bitter melon also contains a lectin that has insulin-like activity This lectin lowers blood glucose concentrations similar to insulin’s effects in the brain, suppressing appetite.

In 2007, a study by the Philippine Department of Health determined a daily dose bitter melon is comparable to the antidiabetes drug glibenclamide taken twice per day. Tablets of bitter melon extract are sold in the Philippines as a food supplement and exported to many countries. In this case, the bitter pill is probably easier to take than to eat the food.

Widespread use of the food probably developed with the agricultural revolution when diabetes became a health issue. The food, also has antiviral, anticancer, antibacterial and anti-inflamatory properties. 

About John Boyd

I have been hiking the hills and beaches of St. Croix, Virgin Islands for over 35 years and in retirement, decided to become a Heritage Hiking Guide specializing in the local history, geology, plant life and environmental changes that accompanied all groups of settlers over the last 3000 years. Unfortunately, aging of my body has temporarily limited my aggressive physical activity and I am using my intrinsic curiosity to explore the very obscure history of St. Croix prior to World War I. The oldest recorded History was dominated by the actions of Absolute European Monarchs who claimed ownership of the Island. Of course, all their actions were reported upon by official scribes who were controlled by censorship. Regardless of the outcome, reports were always positive until the king was dead and a new monarch crowned.
This entry was posted in Boyd's Botanica, Judith (Soldier) Hill, Judith's Hill, St. Croix Plants, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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