Nevis Naturally: The Benefits of the Bush

Aquamarine water. Warm, soothing breezes. Tropical cocktails. The Caribbean gem of Nevis overtly delivers on what travelers most seek in a relaxing getaway. But there is more to this lush leeward island than what first meets the eye. Closer exploration reveals botanical wonders that locals say echo and often even exceed the curative powers offered by modern medicinals. The jungle-like landscape of palms and fragrant flowers contains riches that have long provided the island’s residents with natural healing resources. 

Nevis native Mac Kee France is a believer, having learned at the heels of his 97-year old grandmother the therapeutic powers of a multitude of island flora. “I don’t think my very healthy grandmother has ever seen a traditional doctor,” says France, the director of guest experiences at Four Seasons Resort Nevis. “She has a natural cure for nearly any ailment, utilizing the botanical bounty of the island.”

Mac Kee France, director of guest experiences at Four Seasons Resort Nevis, leads a botanical tour. Photo by Fran Miller

France shares his ‘bush’ knowledge with resort guests via his see, touch, smell, and taste Botanical Tour, during which he reveals the island’s many healing secrets. Traversing the resort property’s hilly terrain via golf cart, the immersive tour includes multiple stops amongst and within the abundance of plants, fruit trees, and herbs that yield more than mere beauty. (The tour is also a great way to catch glimpses of the playful Green Vervet monkeys that freely roam the island.) 

France, who practices what he preaches, typically starts his day by picking leaves from various trees to create his own tea blend. “Natural alternatives to modern medicine are both healthy and delicious,” said France. “Whether you want to fight cancer, regulate your sugar, or help your heart, you are sure to find a plant on Nevis that can help.” 

According to France:

·      The Cinnamon or Ciliment Leaf helps to regulate blood sugar and control diabetes. Use the leaves or the bark (cinnamon sticks) in morning tea or oatmeal.

·      Alternanthera Caracasana or Washerwoman is a species of flowing plant used for blood pressure control.

·      Vervain or Worry Vine is used to treat infections, abdominal pain and boost milk production in breastfeeding women. It is also an anti-tumor/anti-cancer remedy, helping to block cell growth, as well as an anti-microbial, helping to stop bacteria growth.

·      Soursop or Graviola Fruit, a favorite of the monkeys, has a prickly green exterior with a creamy, sweet inside, the flavor of which is often compared to pineapple or strawberry and is a delicious addition to a smoothie. It helps to fight cancer and aide better sleep.

·      Noni Fruit is similar in look to the Soursop and helps to improve skin quality and arthritis, reduces stress, and helps to fight cancer. Blend into a juice or steep in water to make tea.

·      Cattle Tongue or Ram Goat Bush is great for making a tea that helps relieve cold, flu, and fever symptoms. 

·      Moringa or 'Tree of Life' is rich in alkalinity and antioxidants. One of the fastest-growing trees in the world, it provides many natural benefits, including improving energy and stamina. It can normalize blood sugar, help fight cancer, improve eyesight and focus, and reduce wrinkles. Blend the leaves in a smoothie or steep in water to make a tea. 

·      Medina Plant is an evergreen that thrives all year round in the Caribbean and helps as a sexual stimulant, improves blood pressure control, blood flow enhancement, and helps prevent diabetes.

·      Eyebright Herb is used to help with eye infections and improve eyesight.

·      Rosemary Herb is used to enhance memory and is often used in recipes for its aromatic scent and bold flavor.

During the tour, France also shares some of his playful childhood memories involving the island’s vegetation. He remembers as a youth snacking on the anise flavored pod seeds from the Golden Shower tree, and the fruit of the Baobab or “upside down” tree, also known as English Tamarind, from which he offers guests a nibble. The Clammy Cherry tree was his natural source for glue; the fruit yields a substance that serves as a sticky substitute for the real thing. And the Soap Bush plant was a hand-washing alternative to water; guests can witness its efficacy by crushing and rubbing together the plants leaves.  

France’s Botanical Tour also provides guests with some of the most picturesque vantage points within the resort and is a perfect introduction to the wonders of this beautiful island, where beauty is in the eye of both the beholder and the believer. 

Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Nevis, unless otherwise noted

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, television, and professional sports, and is proud to have established the Golden State Warriors...(Read More)

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