It is September! Spring is in the air and the change of seasons come with the excitement of warmer and longer days. We are all keen to get outdoors and just enjoy the beauty of nature as new life is beginning to show all around. In South Africa we are also celebrating Heritage month, focussing on what makes us unique as a nation. And the SA Council for Business Women will be looking locally – local products, local manufacturing, and local travel. By supporting our own, we are all contributing to building up the economy of South Africa. We asked our thought leaders to also give us article with a local focus in their respective fields of expertise and we will be sharing these with you over the next weeks. We kick-off our “local is lekker” campaign with an article on locally grown medicinal plants. Dr Kirasha Allopi shares some very helpful hints with us this month:
New ways of healing using locally grown medicinal plants:
Complementary and alternative medical practices and modalities are increasing in popularity as people discover alternative means of healthcare to implement a natural form of healing. Health & Fitness Guru’s, Integrative lifestyles, and holistic approaches to healthcare have found a special place in today’s ever-changing world. South Africa especially embraces this diversity – the country’s traditional healers and Complementary Practitioners that offer such alternatives to healthcare.
Dr Allopi has always had a passion for the integrative approach to patientcare, hence exploring the field of alternative medicine and incorporating various modalities in her practice. Have you been advised by an alternative practitioner on any of the medicinal plants below?
Here are a few of South Africa’s medicinal plants that are used in treatment:
- Devils Claw: The plant grows in the Northern Cape and Free State. It has been traditionally used for treating diseases of the liver, kidneys, and bladder. It can also be used to stimulate appetite, and for indigestion.
- Hoodia Gordonii– The plant grows in Northern and Western Cape regions. It is used as an appetite suppressant, mood enhancer and as a cure for severe abdominal cramps, haemorrhoids, indigestion, hypertension, and diabetes.
- Moringa – Moringa oleifera is produced in Limpopo Province, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng. It is used for medicinal purposes to cure various ailments such as headache, wounds, or insects bites, bacterial or fungal skin complaints, gastric ulcers, pains of the joints.
- Pelargonium sidoides – grows in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Gauteng provinces. It is traditionally used for coughs and chest troubles and is effective for bronchitis in children. It can be used for the treatment of infections such as cough, fever, sore throat, as well as fatigue and weakness.
- Aloe Ferox -. The leaves have been traditionally used for stomach complaints, arthritis, eczema, hypertension, and stress. They are also used to treat skin irritations and bruises. Aloe ferox is distributed nationally but mostly in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, southern parts of KZN, and the south-eastern part of the Free State.
- African ginger – The fresh roots or rhizomes can be chewed to treat influenza. It can also be used for colds, asthma, to treat malaria and by women during menstruation. The plant has also been traditionally used as an appetite suppressant and sedative. African ginger is especially distributed in Limpopo.
- Wild ginger grows in the rocky grasslands of Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo provinces of South Africa. The rhizomes and leaves are used for the treatment of fever, rheumatism, asthma, and constipation. The fresh bulbs are boiled in water and the decoctions are taken orally to clear up coughs and colds.
- African wild potato is another popular plant and has been traditionally used for urinary tract infections. It can also be used to treat dizziness, heart weakness, nervous and bladder disorder as well as depression. It’s commonly found in Eastern cape, Gauteng and KZN.
These are only a few popular medicinal plants that are available in South Africa. The leaves, flowers and fruits are used in preparation and have medicinal value in treatments of common complaints and ailments. Practitioners of Complementary and Alternative medicine prescribe them constitutionally along with lifestyle changes, nutrition, supplementation, and holistic interventions. One of wonderful and therapeutic benefits we get from our rich diverse country simply by exploring magical Mother Earth.
Dr Kirasha Allopi
(References-Herbert, D. Commercializing medicinal plants. Margaret Roberts’ A-Z Herbs: Identifying Herbs, How to Grow Herbs)