The origin of Guifiti is a mysterious secret indigenous tradition. The word “Guifiti” in Garifuna means “a gift of the plant spirits.” It belongs to a group of drinks known as “bitters” made from an arrangement of plants known to be beneficial for the health and wellbeing of humans. The drink is made by infusing a proprietary mixture of various roots and herbs in alcohol and water, and allowed to cure over time. Even though it’s a rum based drink, it can also be made with boiling water. The final concoction is meant to be a medicinal vitality and total wellness tonic, to be taken daily and in minute quantities.
The Garifuna Guifiti stands alone in that it was originally made to be a medicine. It is used across the Nation as a preventative and cure for many ailments specific to the cultural lifestyle such as stress, digestive disorders, weak blood, malnutrition, and low vitality. The herbs contained in the brew are mostly anti-parasitical, antibiotic, fertility enhancers, blood builders, and nerve tonics. Guifiti is prescribed by traditional healers for total health maintenance, convalescing, and to enhance fertility and sexual performance.
It is used sort of like a love potion for both genders. The inclusion of one particular herb designates the main brew as gender specific, to be either “fi de man” or “fi de woman”. Wild yam is added to slant the brew in the female direction and Gein Weyu is added to slant the brew in the male direction. Men and women have to be careful to not mix up their bottles or things could get complicated.
Within Garifuna settlements, individual recipes are kept secret and transmitted only from generation to generation and life to life. The recipe for genuine Guifiti is much coveted and one must abandon any thoughts of ever having it if was not “handed down” to you. The basic recipe never varies, but certain herbs do vary from one region to another, resulting in every area having their own flavor and secret recipe. The recipe I use was handed down by my grandmother to my older sister, who handed it down to me quite ceremoniously once I became an adult. A genuine Guifiti bottle made in Garifuna tradition can keep the healing herb spirits for and incredibly long period of time and even years. The bottle can be refilled with a mixture of water and rum to allow the herbs inside to continue to “give” their gift of medicine. Real Guifiti will have all the herbs inside the bottle and will not be just liquor.
So what’s in it? Without letting the cat out of the bag, I can tell you that one of the main ingredients in Guifiti is Lemuru, a hailed and highly regarded plant in Garifuna ethnobotany. If you want genuine Guifiti, it has to contain this plant. People have learned to use garlic in its place because they smell the same but there is really no substitute. Lemuru is a serious medicinal plant used traditionally against autoimmune diseases, urinary problems, and balancing blood sugar levels. Its presence in the Guifiti serves to stimulate the immune system and protect against infections. Another known contributor to Guifiti is Gein Weyu, a root herb used traditionally to make overall tonics that build strength and restore vitality during convalescence. In the Guifiti mix however, Gein Weyu offers aphrodisiac properties that enhance sexual drive, and other benefits to the male reproductive organs. It is this root along with miniscule amounts of Contribo that make the Guifiti man tonic a “MAN TONIC” fi di man!
Slanting a Guifiti formula “fi di woman” involves the inclusion of Wild Yam in the bottle. Wild Yam has a sweet bitter flavor with very warming energy. The biochemical constituents of Wild Yam are comprised of precursors to the female hormone progesterone. When taken in a tonic, these hormone precursors trigger “inner healing” of the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes; which explains why traditional healers rely on this plant for healing the entire female reproductive system. Wild Yam tinctures and extracts are currently being utilized in natural hormone replacement therapy as an alternative for progesterone. This medicinal plant is known to balance female hormones as it stimulates the production of natural progesterone; making it the perfect modern day herb for alleviating menopausal symptoms, uterine pains, cramps, PMS, and regulating the female menstrual cycle.
No. This is as far as it goes. I cannot give you the entire recipe, but I can share some guidelines on determining whether the Guifiti you are drinking is genuine or not. First of all, you will never find Garifuna Guifiti in a Chinese store so don’t look there. Guifiti is traditionally purchased from bars in Garifuna communities in Belize and along the Caribbean coast, where they will serve it to you by the shot (the recommended dose). If you are lucky, the best thing is to purchase a bottle from the one who prepared it and ask them all the questions about dosage, longevity, and refills. But please do not ask them for the recipe, for the hard won Garifuna Guifiti heritage will forever remain closely held and highly guarded.
It is not unusual to see someone proudly selling the unlabeled dry herbal Guifiti mix in a glass bottle, to which you can add the alcohol of your choice. Though white rum is the popularly preferred liquid for concocting Guifiti, it can just as well be made with water and vodka or gin or rum or ouzo or grappa or aniseed, and the like. The choice is yours, for it is the balanced medicinal herbal mix that makes Guifiti, and NOT the alcohol. Those who are fortunate enough to be holders of traditional indigenous Guifiti formulas understand how plastic adulterates the spiritual balance of medicinal plants. For this reason, you will never find traditional Guifiti in a plastic bottle. I suggest you buy it only if it is in a glass bottle.
How do you take it? For best results, one to two tablespoons taken daily is the recommended dosage. Your herbalist may suggest a different dosage depending on what you are taking it for, and if you have a special condition or complaint. When taken in large quantities, Guifiti ceases to be medicinal and becomes just another alcoholic drink for drunks. It is borderline sacrilege to consume Guifiti for the mere sake of getting drunk. There are other alcoholic drinks to serve that purpose, and such is not the mission of this closely held ancestral concoction. Recognized as a reverent gift graciously given us by the plant spirits, we drink Guifiti tonically by the shot, in celebration of life; to commune with the ancestors; to relax the body; to enjoy each other’s company; to enhance lovemaking; to be happy; and enable us to appreciate the gifts we temporarily have on this Earth.