Here in Jamaica we pride ourselves on leading a healthy, natural lifestyle. But Princess—she doesn’t give her last name—takes that mindset to the next level. For nearly 20 years, she’s run a small herbal shop at the Crossroads Market in downtown Kingston, selling natural remedies to maladies from the common cold to stress, anxiety and, she says, cancer. Outpostings visited to talk to Princess, who is known as one of the best herbalists in town.
Princess is a woman of few words, shy and reserved. But when she begins to speak about the healing benefits of herbal medicine, she becomes impassioned about the subject and rattles off the many reasons why she wholeheartedly believes in herbal medicine. “Sometimes the doctor’s can’t even help with the ailments my products have cured,” she says.
Dry herbs and root vegetables fill the stands outside the store. They’re the ingredients for Princess’s three main products—root tonics (a sort of wellness drink), root wines (naturally fermented, and containing under five percent alcohol) and root medicines (herbal remedies).
One popular brew is the Natural Vitalizer tonic. A “natural viagra,” it contains a slew of rare Jamaican herbs, including chaney root, which grows deep in the Jamaican woodlands, and helps improve impotence. Somewhat surprisingly, it also includes a multi-vitamin supplement, usually used for horses. “Oh it’s fine for people. I’ve been adding it for many years, but only by special request” says Princess. Like all of her products, the Natural Vitalizer is made in nearby St. Catherine and transports to Kingston weekly.
The number one seller is her Herbal Infection tonic, made to relieve issues such as muscle pain, stress, ulcers, asthma, bronchitis and high-cholesterol.
“You don’t have to be sick to take these,” she says as she reaches for a bottle of one her mixes. Princess recommends a tablespoon every day or so to help maintain the body’s immune system.
Her assistant, Wayne Johnson, says customers return multiple times, often after just one bottle heals multiple ailments. “People come back just to tell Princess how effective her medicine has been for them.”
The tedious process can take up to three hours per batch, though Princess is tight-lipped on details. Recipes and methods are a “family secret.” She means it too. Trained in natural remedies by her father and brother, Princess is now passing on the skill to her oldest son, who shadows her in the shop most days.
Stop by the natural herbalist for your chance to check out the shop’s magic in a bottle during your next trip to Kingston! Crossroad Market, Cross Roads Sq, 5 Kingston, Jamaica.