Guinea hen weed is a herb commonly used in Jamaica, and in South America its common name is anamu. The botanical name for the plant is petiveria alliacea and it grows commonly in Florida, Texas, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America, and has been introduced to Africa.

Guinea hen weed has been used in traditional or herbal medicine for hundreds of years in these countries and its popularity has led to it being called by a wide variety of names including: apacin, apazote de zorro, congo root, garlic weed, guinea hen leaf, and gully root.

 Guinea hen weed grows to about 3ft, has small green flowers, and the roots and leaves have a strong garlic smell, which is why it is also called garlic weed. Guinea hen weed is used as a insect repellent because of its strong garlic smell, and its wide range of phytonutrients have led to it being used in traditional medicine to treat many ailments.

Guinea hen weed’s roots and leaves are used traditionally to make a tea, but the primary disease fighting compounds of found more in the root. The root’s primary disease fighting compounds are benzaldehyde, dibenzyl disulfide, dibenzyl trisulfide, and cis- and trans-stilbene. Other phytonutrients found in the plant include benzoic acid (root), benzyl 2-hydroxyethyl trisulphide (leaf), coumarin (root), isoarborinol, isoarborinol acetate, isoarborinol cinnamate, isothiocyanates (seed), polyphenols (leaf), senfol (leaf), tannins (leaf), and trithiolaniacine (root). [1]

The roots contain cysteine sulfoxide derivatives that serve as precursors of several thiosulfinates that exhibit antimicrobial activity.[2] Dibenzyl trisulfide has been found to kill cancer cells [3] [4] and inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzyme of HIV-1.

Traditionally guinea hen weed or anamu has been used to fight colds, cough, pain, rheumatic pain, sinusitis, spasms, and anxiety. Guinea hen weed also kills bacteria, cancer cells, fungi, leukemia cells, viruses, and candida. It also expels worms, reduces fever, lowers blood sugar, reduces free radicals, and stimulates the immune system.

Women who are pregnant should not take guinea hen weed because it induces abortion. Women in Central America use guinea hen weed to relieve birthing pains and facilitate easy childbirth.