Saturday, 6 May 2017


Assegai ; Curtisia dentata

The assegai grows in most of the forests in southern Africa and Swaziland, from sea level to 1 800 m. It ranges from the Cape Peninsula through the forest patches of the eastern Western Cape to the forests of the Knysna region, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Swaziland. In the forest it is usually found in climax forest and grows into a tall tree with a clean, unbuttressed bole. It also grows on grassy mountain slopes and in coastal scrub forest where it is a small bushy tree.
Image result for assegai plant

The bark is in great demand for traditional medicine, and is used to treat stomach ailments, diarrhoea and as a blood purifier and aphrodisiac. It is used only in special mixtures because it is now too scarce to be used in most mixtures.


African cucumis

African cucumis

The African cucumis is widely used throughout tropical Africa for numerous ailments. Traditionally, Shangaan, Swazi and Zulu widows have to bath in a decoction of the root before remarrying. Through scientific research we are now able to decode the reasons for this tradition. The African cucumis has anti-parasitical and other properties that clean the widow of parasites and other infectious ailments that she might be carrying from her previous marriage, thereby giving credence to this traditional practice.

Plant parts used:
Mainly the roots are used for medicinal purposes. Decoctions are made and taken as a tea, applied externally or made into a bath.

Medicinal uses:
The African cucumis is used for skin complaints, cancers, gonorrhoea, inflammatioms, malaria, pain, parasites, viral hepatitis and worms. Its anti parasitical properties are legendary.

The African Cucumis has similar properties to the Pedicellus Melo, (Chinese name: Tian Gua Di) which is used to remove lumps, eliminate fluid and relieve jaundice, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, hepatocirrhosis, liver cancer, persistent dyspepsia and epilepsy due to wind-phlegm.

This plant is one of the most misunderstood medicinal plants in the world. Although it is considered toxic by the western world, there is a long history of its medicinal use as well as a food source in southern Africa. There has never been a report of any side effects of its tincture. Furthermore, there are numerous cases supporting of its effectiveness in treating cancers, hepatocirrhosis, malaria and viral hepatitis. Its toxicity may be caused by over harvesting, environmental stresses and/or different subspecies.

As an herbal treatment for liver ailments and diseases, the African cucumis offers unparalleled results and benefits and it is therefore recommended for all those who abuse fatty foods and substances of addiction (alcohol, drugs and tobacco).

The African cucumis is recommended for skin cancers and bad skin complexions. We have observed that crawling and flying insects will travel great distances to consume the roots of the African cucumis. We have also observed that patients taking the African cucumis have improved skin complexions. Both animal and human derive great benefits from this plant. Long-term use of the plant seems to have no ill side effects. One patient took the African cucumis for a period of three years with no visible side effects. The plant is known to cause diarrhoea in some patients.



Boophane Disticha

This is an attractive, deciduous bulbous plant with a thick covering of dry scales above the ground. The large, round heads are sometimes on such short stems that they appear to grow directly from the bulb, almost at ground level. The colour of flowers varies from shades of pink to red and are sweetly scented (July to Oct.). The pedicels (flower stalks) elongate after flowering to form a large seedhead. This breaks off at the top of the scape (stalk) and tumbles across the veld dispersing the seed. The greyish green leaves are erect, arranged in a conspicuous fan and are usually produced after flowering. This spring-flowering species will flower even if it does not receive any water in winter. The bulb is very poisonous.

Bushman poison bulb

Bushman poison bulb: Boophone disticha 

The Khoisan people believed this bulb has the power to transport the dead through the doorway of the spirit to the life hereafter. For this reason it is revered and feared by the Khoisan who regard it as enormously powerful.
Image result for Bushman poison bulbin South Africa, and you will find traditional healers or ‘sangomas’ using it to psychoanalyse emotional disorders in their patients. The process is called ‘bioscope’.

The healer medicates the patient with a minute quantity of Boophone and then sits them in front of a blank white screen.

Once the medicine has taken effect, the healer asks the patient what s/he sees on the screen (hence ‘bioscope’) in order to analyse their imaginings.

From here the healer induces vomiting in the patient to purge the Boophone, hopefully along with their troubles.

While Boophone is widely used in the treatment of psychological troubles, it also has powerful physical healing attributes and is used by traditional healers to treat circumcision wounds.

It is well known in medical circles that the alkaloids in Boophone are extremely effective painkillers. The scales of the bulb are wrapped around the circumcised penis to reduce the pain as well as to sterilise the wound.

Boophone might also be taken orally as a painkiller in the form of a weak infusion, but the dose could prove lethal if administered by anyone but a highly trained healer.


Securidaca longipedunculata

Securidaca longipedunculata

 This is a tropical plant found almost everywhere across the continent with different uses in every part of Africa. In Tanzania, the dried bark and root are used as a laxative for nervous system disorders, with one cup of the mixture being taken daily for two weeks.

In East Africa, dried leaves from the plant are used in the treatment of wounds and sores, coughs, venereal diseases, and snakebites. In Malawi, the leaves are also used for wounds, coughs, venereal diseases, and snakebites, as well as bilharzia, and the dried leaves are used to cure headaches. In other parts of the continent, parts of the plant are used to cure skin diseases, malaria, impotence, epilepsy, and are also used as an aphrodisiac.
Image result for Securidaca longipedunculataThe roots and bark are taken orally either powdered or as infusions for treating chest complaints, headache, inflammation, abortion, ritual suicide, tuberculosis, infertility problems, venereal diseases and for constipation. Toothache can also be relieved by chewing the roots. Mixed roots of the violet tree and dwarf custard apple are used to treat gonorrhea. Powdered roots or wood scrapings are used to treat headache by rubbing them on the forehead, while infusions from the roots are used to wash tropical ulcers. In Limpopo, the vhaVenda people use roots for mental disorders and as protection against children's illness during breastfeeding. It is also believed that many African people use the powdered violet tree roots as a sexual boost for men. The vhaVenda people mix the powdered root with mageu (maize or sorghum beverage) and it is given to a man to drink if he is sexually weak. The bark is used to make soap, fibre for fishing nets, baskets and strong threads that are used to sew bark cloth. In Zimbabwe, the roots are used to treat people who are believed to be possessed by evil spirits, for snakebite as well as for coughs when pounded with water and salt.


Xylopia aethiopica

Xylopia aethiopica

Image result for Xylopia aethiopicaXylopia aethiopica grows in Tropical Africa. It is present in rain forests, especially near the coast. It also grows in riverine and fringing forest, and as a pioneer species in arid savanna regions.

An infusion of the plant's bark or fruit has been useful in the treatment of bronchitis and dysenteric conditions, or as a mouthwash to treat toothaches. It has also been used as a medicine for biliousness and febrile pains. The bark, when steeped in palm wine, is used to treat asthma, stomach-aches and rheumatism.

In Senegal, the fruit is used to flavor cafĂ© Touba, a coffee drink that is the country's spiritual beverage and the traditional drink of the Mouride brotherhood. In the Middle Ages the fruit was exported to Europe as a ‘pepper.’ In the eastern part of Nigeria, the plant's fruit is an essential ingredient in preparation of local soups to aid new mothers in breastfeeding. It remains an important item of local trade throughout Africa as a spice, and flavouring for food and for medicine. The fruit is sometimes put into jars of water for purification purposes.