According to the Oxford Dictionary, “a herb is any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavouring, food, medicine, or perfume”. They also define a spice as “an aromatic or pungent vegetable substance used to flavour food”. In Trinidad and Tobago’s Herbs and Spices, we will be examining the herbs and spices that are commonly used in local households to “season” food, or are used in traditional “bush” medicine.


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Bay Leaf (Scientific name: Pimenta Racemosa) also referred to as “ciliment leaf” or “Bios den a”. (Morean 1989a:29) (Winer 62).  is one of the most popular culinary herbs in Trinidad and Tobago. It infuses a woody flavour, with a subtle note of eucalyptus and clove” (Spiceography) into any dish.  Trinidadians and Tobagonians use this herb in many ways, but mostly as a meat tenderizer or to add flavour to soups, stews and local fruit drinks.


Health and Medicinal Benefits

Bay Leaf has numerous health benefits. The fresh leaves are a rich source of vitamin C which is supposed to be a powerful anti-oxidant that helps to remove harmful elements from the body, as well as being an effective immune booster. Bay Leaf is also reported to be an excellent source of vitamin A, which is good for eyesight and healthy skin, and is said to assist in the control of diabetes and hypertension. 


Pest Control

Bay leaf when dried has a relatively long shelf life, and acts as a preservative when placed in flour, rice, and peas to keep harmful pests away.




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Mint or Mentha (Latin name) is a part of the Lamiaceae family, which contains about 20 species, including peppermint and spearmint. This tender herb is best used in cooking desserts, savoury dishes such as curries and teas.   If added at the end of the cooking process, it maintains its delicate flavours and texture.


Health and Medical Benefits

Mint plants contain antioxidants  and anti- inflammatory agents, for example Rosemaric Acid. This type of acid has the ability to help reduce the symptoms of asthma, sooth the effects of the common cold, and has anti-allergenic effects.  Mint is perhaps most popularly known as a remedy for digestive problems. It is said that using peppermint oil helps to reduce abdominal pain, and helps to treat irritable bowel syndrome without producing any negative side effects. Consuming mint is said to kill various harmful bacteria, reduce stress and fight cancerous tumor cells.

Mint Oil mixed in hair oils can promote a healthy scalp and hair growth.  It can also be used  hand sanitizers and to inhale for sinus and asthma.




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Chives are of the “Allium Schoenoprasum” genus, and is a small bulbous perennial culinary herb commonly used to give flavour to many foods, including salads, soups, vegetables and sauces.  It is also used to garnish such dishes as, omelettes, pastas and casseroles, when serving.


Health/Medicinal Benefits                                   

Research from the US National Institute of Health, has shown that chives are nutrient dense, and contain many  vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  One such nutrient is Choline which helps maintain human cell structure, as well as assists in the regulation of mood, memory, and muscle control. Chives also contain Vitamin K which is important for healthy bones and blood clotting.




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Chadon Benee (also spelt Chado Beni) is also called Bhandhania (pronounced;Band dan nia)or Culantro (Eryngium Foetidum), is considered to be one of Trinidad and Tobago’s most treasured herb. This biennial herb when blended with other herbs such as chive and thyme, it is used for seasoning all types of meat, pickles, barbecue sauce, curries, and chutneys. It is also used to add flavour to local dishes. One such method of adding flavour is in the form of a condiment known as chado beni sauce.  This sauce provides added flavour to local fast-food and street food dishes. “Doubles” and “Bake and Shark” are two of the most popular dishes.


Health/Medicinal Benefits

Chadon Benee is used in traditional medicine to alleviate fevers, chills, vomiting and diarrhea. It is also used also used to treat flu like symptoms, pneumonia and diabetes and constitution. This herb is considered to be the Caribbean’s secret ingredient, and is grown in many people’s backyard.




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Rosemary (Salvia Rosmarinus) is a perennial aromatic shrub of the mint family, which is thought to be native to the Mediterranean. This narrow leaf herb has a taste that is “piney and sweet-mint with a gingerish tang” (Hall 118).  Because of its strength, it is recommend that only a sprig be used when cooking. Rosemary can be used in its fresh or dried form, and complements such culinary meat dishes such as chicken, lamb, pork, fish, steaks and game when roasted. It also pairs well with spinach, squash, peas, tomatoes, onions, grains and mushrooms.


Health / Medicinal Benefits

This herb contains a good source of iron, vitamin B-6 and calcium. In traditional medicine, Rosemary has been used to fight dandruff, and hair loss, and is used as a mouth wash. (Hall 118).  Rosemary oil is also known to ease muscle strains and aches,

When used as part of potpourri, it will repeal moths.



Complied by Faithe Best

OJT Heritage Library Division




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"Bay Leaf: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews." WebMD - Better Information. Better Health,  


"Cooking With Bay Leaves: The Dos and Don'ts." SPICEography, 27 Aug. 2018, 


Felix (Simply Trini Cooking). "Bay Leaf Tea." Simply Trini Cooking – Trini Food, Trini Cooking, Trini Culture, 10 Oct. 2012, 


"Chadon Beni: Our Famous Wild Trini Herb." Simply Trini Cooking, 9 Sept. 2017, . Accessed 17 June 2021.


Thyme and Time Again." Trinidad Guardian, Nasser Khan, 16 July 2016, 
Waren, Megan, and L.D. "Chives: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Use." Medical and Health Information, 27 Jan. 2020, . 


"Mint Local." Wiffens, 9 Apr. 2020, /. Accessed 17 June 2021.


"Trinidad Green Seasoning." Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Punch,   9 Mar. 2013,
             17 June 2021

“Rosemary: Health Benefits, Precautions, and Drug Interactions.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon 
    International,   Accessed on 26 Jul. 21






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