Plant Cures – Zulu herbal remedies
There are types of Zulu herbal remedies used by both rural and urban people. In urban areas that muthi markets where these can be purchased such as Kwa Mai-Mai and Faraday in Johannesburg. In rural areas, some of these herbal remedies are common knowledge and anyone who knows where to find them, can easily go to wherever they are found and dig them out or consult an inyanga.
Vascular Problems: Ithethe (Polygela oppositifolia)
This is a large bushy shrub that grows along the KwaZulu-Natal coast and has pink flowers. The roots are used in muti.
This grows in well drained soil around South Africa. It has a bright yellow tuber which immediately turns black after cutting. It is taken as a tea (two or three pieces are boiled in water, covered for about two minutes and then taken one third of a cup at a time).
Nausea: Unhliziyo omkulu (Dombeya Rotundifolia)
This is a deciduous tropical tree. The bark is boiled and left to steep for a while and then taken as a tea (one small cup at a time). It is principally used for pregnant women who feel abnormal nausea.
Indigestion: Umondi (Chlorocodon whitlik hook F)
This is a perennial shrub related to the leguminous plant Liquorice (it is also sweet smelling). The Zulus use the root and bark of the branches. The outer layer of the root is peeled off and ground to form a powder. This is then placed on the hand and licked up, thereafter water is taken to wash it down.
This is a coastal species of the sweet-smelling milkwood tree. The bark is ground into a fine powder and boiled in water. Two cups per day are taken to relieve cramps. The bark can also be made into a decoction and used in the form of enema to treat the urinary system, spasms of the uterus and menstrual pain.
Stomach Ulcers: Umtombothi (Spirostachys africana sond)
This is a fruit-bearing tree with rough, almost black bark. The bark is powdered and boiled in water for about 10 minutes (one tablespoon per litre). It is then strained and returned to the boil with two tablespoons of maize or oat meal until a thin milk is obtained. Three cups per day between meals and with no other liquid is recommended.
Insect Bites: Intebe (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
This is an aquatic plant related to the Arum Lily which grows wild in swampy ground all over South Africa. The leaves are used to treat insect bites and stings from bees by being cooked first to remove the toxicity and the leaves are then peeled off and applied directly to the skin.
Congestion: Ibohlololo (Senecia Cinararia, Wild)
This is a low growing succulent plant with green-grey leaves rising from horizontal stems with a daisy-like flower. For chest congestion the plant is soaked in hot water and drunk twice a day as a tea (no more than one third of a cup at a time).
This is an evergreen bush shrub resembling the Christmas holly. The bark and leaves are boiled in water to make a decoction and taken as an injection, enema or drunk three times daily in small quantities. It creates a dilation of the lungs and acts as a decongestant as it opens the alveoli of the lungs and restores normal breathing.
Asthma: Umhlaba (Agave spp)
This is a succulent plant with long pointed leaves with spikes along their edges. The young shoots are boiled in water for ten minutes before being strained and used in conjunction with any kind of brandy. A small glass is taken twice a day to open the lungs and calm the asthma attack. As the plant has a strong bite, the brandy makes it palatable.
Infected Wounds: Umushlwa (Ikhowa mushroom)
This is a small white mushroom that grows predominantly on top of high ant heaps or umushlwa. It is applied externally as a poultice (usually mixed with the bark of the inshlute tree (Protorhus longifolia).
Diarrhoea: Umathungulu (Inhambanella henriquesii)
This is a thorny evergreen shrub with shiny leathery leaves and a milky sap.
The Zulus use the edible red fruit (that resemble prunes) due to their binding power and astringent properties. The fruit is eaten raw after the roots have been made into a fine powder and cooked. The solution is then taken as a tea twice a day.
This is a ground creeper which resembles ivy and produces yellow flowers in spring. The Zulus use the roots in a powder of which one teaspoon is boiled in water for ten minutes. The solution is strained and one tablespoon is taken three times a day. The leaves pounded in warm water can be used as a poultice on swollen joints, sores and abscesses. Modern izinyanga prescribe Uboqho leaves internally to treat gout and rheumatism.
Headaches: Ikhalimele (Rhynchosia. Spp)
This is an ivy-like creeper with light-green triangular leaves. The stems and leaves can be used to treat headaches, migraine and menstrual pain. It is also used in facial sauna to treat skin lesions and the water solution of the leaves dropped into the eyes as a remedy redness and inflammation.