HEALING HERBS: Ackee a genuine medicinal fruit


Mi carry mi ackee go a Linstead Market

Not a quattie worth sell

Mi carry me ackee go a Linstead Market

Not a quattie worth sell

– First verse of folk song Linstead Market.

ONE OF MY TEACHERS taught me how to sing the above folk song at primary school. I cannot remember if it was Mr Herbert Reifer, Mrs Boucher or Mr Cardinal Beckles from Waverly Cot. Divinely, they were sowing some celestial seeds into my consciousness in readiness for this article. 

For too long ackee, which is part of the national dish of Jamaica (ackee and salt fish), has been disregarded by some Barbadians. Yet a headline in the Jamaican Observer read: Jamaica Falls Short Of US Ackee Demand. In the United States a can of ackee sells for almost US$7. 

We must genuinely change our negative concepts about silent doctor ackee and embrace it as an authentic exotic medicinal fruit. Likewise, we must identify, understand and appropriately prepare this superb fruit to avoid any documented ill-effects. 

The word ackee is derived from the West African words “Akye Fufo”. It is indigenous to the Ivory and Gold Coast of Africa. It is grown in some CARICOM nations, including Jamaica and Barbados.

Ackee, also known as vegetable brain, ackee apple or aki, contains carbohydrates, dietary fibre, protein, Vitamin A, C, B2, B3, folic acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. It contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. 

Research also shows that the Pan American Health Organisation says that ackee “is a good source of stearic, linoleic and palmitic acids. These fatty acids make up 55 per cent of the total fatty acids in the ackee”.

Ackee can treat many health challenges, including colds, fever, water retention and epilepsy. It provides the body with energy, prevents hypothermia, and builds and repairs body tissue, prevents colon cancer, lowers blood glucose and cholesterol, supports the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and can assist with metabolism, sexual health and the production of red blood cells.

Finally, I researched how to safely prepare ackee after one of my neigbours gave me some from his tree. They were ready for consumption.

So how do we know they are ready for consumption?

The website www.livestrong.com, states: “The seeds of the tree’s fruit are poisonous and you cannot eat the pulpy aril inside the ackee fruit until it matures. Once it splits open naturally and the arils are exposed to sunlight, the arils are no longer poisonous.” 

Therefore, I would truly appreciate if a Jamaican could demonstrate the correct method for preparing ackee and saltfish.

Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via silentdoctors@gmail.com or by telephone 250-6450.

DISCLAIMER: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific claims for any products. Any attempts to diagnose or treat real illness should come under the direction of your health care provider.


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