Chaney Root: Benefits of the Potent Jamaican Herb

Despite the many advances in modern pharmaceutics, it cannot outdo the power of natural medicine in some aspects. If you’re looking for a natural way to combat common colds, improve your immune system, or lower your blood sugar, this potent and versatile Jamaican herb is right for you.

Chaney root, or cocolmeca, is one of the many hidden gems in Jamaica. This powerful native herb teems with phytochemicals, antioxidants, proteins, and other essential nutrients that can provide various health benefits.

In this article, we’ll discuss what Chaney root is, the supported advantages you can gain from this herb, the potential side effects you should expect, and how you can incorporate Chaney root into your daily routine.

What Is Cocolmeca or Chaney Root?

Chaney root, scientifically known as Smilax balbisiana, is a perennial vine native to the tropical regions of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Many natives might be familiar with the other common names of this flowering plant, such as Chainey winder, Chaney vine, cocolmeca, Jamaican sarsaparilla, prickly greenbrier, and saw brier.

It’s worth noting that the name “cocolmeca” is often used to refer to various herbs and plants native to the Caribbean and Mexico. In this context, we’ll use this term interchangeably with S. balbisiana.

This herb is characterized by its long, slender, woody stems and clusters of red or orange berries, a familiar characteristic among Smilax spp. However, the plant’s root is critical to its numerous health benefits.

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Chaney Root Benefits

Since archaic times, many natives have relied on Chaney root for its medicinal benefits. Here are some of the health benefits you can reap from this herb.

Antiviral Capabilities

One of the most remarkable properties of Chaney root is its potential as a natural antiviral agent. Studies have shown that certain compounds found in the root have antiviral activity against various viruses, particularly those causing common colds.

This antiviral effect is proven in a study to understand the antiviral properties of native Jamaican herbs. In this study, researchers recommend using one to two teaspoons of dried Chaney root to make tea or decoction.

Hypoglycemic Effect

For individuals dealing with diabetes or trying to manage their blood sugar levels, Chaney root could be a beneficial addition to their regimen. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your diabetes management plan.

In a study to uncover this reaction, researchers discovered that the hexane, ethyl acetate, and methanol crude extracts of Chaney root produced significant hypoglycemic effects. Of the three, the hexane extract at 300 mg/kg body weight produced an impressive lowering of blood sugar in the study.


Inflammation is rooted in many chronic health conditions, including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders. Chaney root has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation.

This anti-inflammatory property is a shared trait by Smilax species because of their rich steroidal saponin content, as described by the research above. This property could offer relief to individuals suffering from conditions related to chronic inflammation.

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Antimicrobial Properties

The antimicrobial properties of Chaney root can help combat bacterial and fungal infections. Several papers and researchers attribute this antimicrobial ability of Chaney root and other Smilax herbs to their rich phytochemical content. This natural antimicrobial property could soothe and heal irritated skin.

Immune System Booster

Like most Smilax spp., Chaney root is believed to act as an immune system booster, helping your body defend itself against various infections and diseases. According to the paper, the primary flavonoid Astilbin in these herbs could be responsible for their anti-inflammatory property. By consuming this herb, you may support your immune system’s ability to fend off illnesses.

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Chaney Root Side Effects

While Chaney root offers numerous potential benefits, it’s essential to be aware of possible side effects:

Stomach Upset

Some individuals may experience stomach discomfort or mild stomach upset after consuming Chaney root. This reaction is a usual side effect of ingesting most herbal teas. If this occurs, reducing the dosage or discontinuing use may alleviate these symptoms.

Nausea and Vomiting

Similar to the abovementioned risk, some individuals might encounter nausea and even vomiting from taking Chaney root tea. To minimize this risk, dispense the dosage appropriately and gradually increase as your body adjusts to its effects. In general, Chaney root tea is considered safe for consumption, but it’s critical to listen and heed what your body tells you.


In some cases, Chaney root consumption has been associated with diarrhea. If you notice digestive issues, it’s advisable to reduce your intake or consult a healthcare professional. In most cases, this is a harmless side effect.

Allergic Reaction

As with any herbal remedy, allergic reactions are possible. If you experience symptoms like itching, hives, or swelling after taking Chaney root, stop using it immediately and seek medical attention. It’s possible to develop an allergic reaction even if you’re used to Chaney root.

Might Affect the Liver

Limited scientific data is available on the potential effects of Chaney root on the liver. Some individuals have reported liver issues after consuming Chaney root, but more research is needed to understand this connection entirely. If you have liver concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using this herb.

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What Is the Recommended Intake of Cocolmeca?

The appropriate dosage of Chaney root can vary depending on various factors, including the individual’s age, health condition, and the specific product being used (e.g., capsules, tinctures, or teas). In a study referenced in this article, the researchers used 2ml of S. balbisiana extract to produce beneficial results.

Chaney root is often prepared as a tea, tincture, or capsule. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines or the recommendations of a qualified herbalist. Some manufacturers are selling Smilax or Sarsaparilla capsules, which are a combination of various beneficial Smilax species extracts.

In Conclusion

Chaney root (Smilax balbisiana), also known as Cocolmeca or Jamaican Sarsaparilla, is a potent Jamaican herb with many potential health benefits. From its antiviral capabilities and anti-inflammatory properties to its role as an immune system booster, this herb has a lot to offer.

However, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and to use Chaney root judiciously, ideally under the guidance of a healthcare professional or herbalist. Whether you’re looking to address specific health concerns or simply incorporate natural remedies into your wellness routine, Chaney root is a fascinating option with a rich history in traditional medicine.

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There are a lot more Jamaican herbs that have medicinal purposes like the Guinep Fruit, Bissy Tea, Guinea Hen Weed, and Cerasee. Read more about them!

FAQs on Cocolmeca

How to Prepare a Chaney Root Tea

Brewing a Chaney root tea is a relatively straightforward process. If you need a bit of guidance, here’s a quick guideline for you:

  1. Boil 1-2 teaspoons of dried Chaney root in 8-10 ounces of water.
  2. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Strain and serve. You can sweeten it with honey or a natural sweetener if desired.

Keep in mind that individual tolerance and reactions can vary, so it’s wise to start with a small dose and gradually increase it as needed. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue use immediately.

Is it Safe to Drink Chaney Root Tea Daily?

The safety of daily Chaney root consumption is not well established, and there is limited scientific data available on the long-term effects. It’s advisable not to consume Chaney root daily for extended periods without consulting a healthcare professional. Instead, use it as needed and for specific health purposes under the guidance of a knowledgeable herbalist or healthcare provider.

Is a Chaney Root Tonic Good for Your Immune System?

A Chaney root tonic can be a valuable addition to your health regimen when used thoughtfully and with the guidance of a healthcare professional. The immune-boosting properties of Chaney root may help your body defend against infections and maintain overall health. However, it’s essential to use it in moderation, not as a substitute for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

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