Lion's ear; Leonotis leonurus
Leonotis leonurus also known as Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga is a member of the mint family of plants. They have always been a popular medicine especially for children and are used for a whole range of off colour conditions. Traditionally it is explained as a great ally for courage and deals with the many itchy diseases created by fear. It is also used for epilepsy, and the fear it brings with it. Leonotis leonurus can be chewed, taken as an infusion or as a bath for eczema it has given great results.
Leonotis leonurus is common at forest margins, on rocky hillsides and riverbanks and in tall grassland of the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Many traditional uses of Leonotis leonurus have been recorded. The foliage is commonly made into a medicinal tea, which is favoured for the hypnotic focus it gives. The leaves or roots are widely used as a remedy for snakebite and also to relieve other bites and stings. Decoctions of Leonotis leonurus leaf or root have been applied externally to treat boils, eczema, skin diseases and itching, and muscular cramps. Leonotis leonurus extracts are also used to relieve coughs, cold and influenza, as well as bronchitis, high blood pressure and headaches. Leaf infusions have been used to treat asthma and viral hepatitis. Tea is also used to treat headaches, bronchitis, high blood pressure and the common cold.
The Hottentot tribesmen use Leonotis leonurus for several different medicinal purposes and to promote euphoria and exuberance when smoked. This species is also important in Chinese/Vietnamese medicine as a euphoric, purgative and vermifuge.
Twigs added to the bath water give relief to muscular aches and pains, itchy skin and eczema. A strong brew can be dabbed onto sores, bites, bee and wasp stings. It is said to also help scorpion and snake bites.
The Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans and English make a tea of the flowers for a soothing cough and as a cold remedy. This tea has also been used for the treatment of jaundice, cardiac asthma, hemorrhoids, headaches, chest ailments, bronchitis and epilepsy. The Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of the leaves and use as a poultice for snakebites. The leaf is also smoked in the treatment of epilepsy and partial paralysis. It is known that a tea of leaves and flowers used to be drunk daily by the older generations for water retention, obesity and hemorrhoids.
Leonotis leonurus was introduced to the white settlers as an amazing medicine chest by the KhoiKhoi who used an infusion of the twigs, leaves and flowers for skin eruptions and leprosy. The Afrikaans community is particular fond of the medicinal properties of this plant and it is widely used by white farmers.