Sleep Secrets from a Caribbean Healer

Have you ever heard of a “fish fuddle?”

It’s the nickname of a dogwood tree that grows here in South Florida where I live – as well as in many of the islands in the Caribbean.

But if you thought the phrase “fish fuddle” meant some really confused fish, you’re right, too!

Let me explain.

A few years ago, I traveled to the Cornwall Barracks, high up in the John Crow Mountains of Jamaica. I was there to visit my good friend, Ivey Harris.

I’ve written to you about Ivey before. She is one of the last living “Maroon healers” on the island. These traditional healers combine the herbal knowledge of their African ancestors with the healing arts of Jamaica’s Carib Indians.

We wrote a book together about the herbs she uses to treat her patients on the island. But on this visit, I wanted to go exploring.

Ivey took me to a sparsely inhabited area and introduced me to a group of fishermen.

The fishermen have a “secret tradition” that puts the fish to sleep. They crumble up bits of leaves and bark from the dogwood tree and toss it into the water. Within minutes, the fish would fall “asleep,” and the men scooped them up with their hands.

This extract works so well Jamaicans call it “fish fuddle.”

It made me wonder. Could this dogwood extract also work on humans? I did my research when I returned home

Researchers at Mount Sinai reported that as early as 1844, Western scientists had discovered the tree’s medicinal properties. More recent studies show the bark has anti-inflammatory and sedative effects in animals.1

The first time I used the extract, it worked so well that I overslept for the first time in years. But when I woke up, there was none of the brain fog or confusion you’d expect with sleep aids.

Discovering natural remedies like this makes me realize and appreciate that I have the best job in the world. I get to travel to out-of-the-way places and bring back what I’ve discovered to you.

That way, you know all your options… including natural alternatives to Big Pharma’s drugs.

Especially when it comes to their knock-out sleeping pills.

“Sleep aids” like Ambien, Lunesta, and others cause dizziness, headache, depression, and anxiety. They can lead to suicidal thoughts, memory loss, and hallucinations. Some people report sleep-walking, and even unconscious sleep-eating or sleep-driving.

And the next morning, the drug is still in your system. You end up feeling sluggish and dazed instead of well-rested.

I recommend taking 10 mg of Jamaican dogwood extract – but no more. That’s just enough to relax your mind and eliminate stress so you can sleep. Note: Don’t use Jamaican dogwood if you’re pregnant.

Try these Natural Sleep Suggestions Before Bed

In addition to sleep aids, there are healthy sleep habits you should practice every night. Here are a few I use:

  1. Read before bed. Reading is relaxing for your body, but it requires a fair amount of brain power. When you work your brain, you’re more likely to get tired enough to sleep through the night.
  2. Sleep in quiet and darkness. If you sleep with the TV or the light on, or play on your phone before bed, you’re messing with your brain’s melatonin production. Turn off everything and sleep in total darkness.
  3. Increase your exposure to bright light during the day. This will help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm – your time-keeping clock. It can help you fall asleep up to 83% faster and stay asleep up to two hours longer.2,3
  4. Decrease your exposure to blue light. Most phones and tablets have a night light or blue light filter. On the iPhone, you can find it in Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. On the Android, it’s in Settings > Display. Your device might even offer it with a couple of simple swipes.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

PS: Be sure to sign up for the Perfect Sleep Solution Online Event. It starts Thursday, so don’t miss out – click here to pre-register.


1. Costello C, Santaniello E. “Major isoflavonoids of the Jamaican dogwood.” Phytochemistry. 1994. 23:2976-77.
2. Campbell S, et al. “Alleviation of sleep maintenance insomnia with timed exposure to bright light.” J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 Aug;41(8):829-36.
3. Fetveit A, et al. “Bright light treatment improves sleep in institutionalised elderly–an open trial.” Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;18(6):520-6.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.