Native to Southern and Eastern Africa, from South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) and Swaziland to Angola and Mozambique and north to Kenya and Tanzania. It is widely cultivated and naturalised elsewhere in the Old and New World tropicsThe leaves have also had many traditional medicinal uses, especially for the treatment of coughs, sore throats and nasal congestion, but also for a range of other problems such as infections, rheumatism and flatulence. The plant is cultivated in home-gardens throughout India for use in traditional medicine, being used to treat malarial fever, hepatopathy, renal and vesical calculi, cough, chronic asthma, hiccup, bronchitis, helminthiasis, colic, convulsions, and epilepsy, Shenoy and others refer to further Indian traditional medicinal uses such as for skin ulcerations, scorpion bite, skin allergy, wounds, diarrhoea, with emphasis on the leaves being used as a hepatoprotective, to promote liver health. In Indonesia Plectranthus amboinicus is a traditional food used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth. In Cambodia 2 uses are recorded: juice from the leaves is sweetened and then given to children as protection from colds; and leaves are applied to the lips. In Bahia, Brasil, people use the plant to treat skin lesions caused by Leishmania braziliensis. Just to the north, in Paraiba of the same country, the plant was extremely commonly known for use in home medication. As noted above, medicinal use also occurs in Southern India, it also documented in other parts of South East Asia and South Africa.
Other uses include as an ornamental, and for its essential oils.