Africa is home to many things, with some even yet to be discovered.
The climate of the continent makes it viable for certain types of plants to thrive there.
Before colonization, traditional healers cured their people using herbs and plants. Many of these plants are now combined with other chemicals to create orthodox medication.
Africa is fortunate to have a massive “biodiversity resources and it is estimated to contain between 40 and 45,000 species of plant with a potential for development and out of which 5,000 species are used medicinally.”
Some of these plants are listed here:
Indigenous to the red sand areas of the Transvaal: South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, this plant adapts to dry desert areas so it spread to the Kalahari regions.
The devil’s claw is used to relieve allergies for diabetes, blood-related diseases, heartburn and skin injuries. The San and Koi people have been heavily reliant on the plant for centuries. Devil’s claw can also be used as a topical ointment on boils and a cure for gastrointestinal disorders.
Honeybush is peculiar to South Africans and the leaf is a widely known traditional drink. The drink is extracted from the fermentation of its shoots and flowers which are dried up and used for tea.
Most drugs have side effects, but this tea is beneficial to curing stomach and urinary tract related ailments without effects on the heart.
This wild plant is now commercially produced and the naturally caffeine-free tea is used as a medicine for catarrh and pulmonary tuberculosis.
The commercialized Honeybush tea is sometimes mixed with other plants like rooibos, as well as, dried fruits and leaves.
Centella Asiatica (Pennywort)
This prehistoric plant has been used in many parts of the world including African folk medicine. This plant can be consumed directly as a vegetable or used as a spice to treat a wide range of diseases including asthma, rheumatism and skin and eye diseases.
It is known to influence cognitive functions such as memory and disorders such as epilepsy and can also be traced to the 1800s treatment for leprosy.
Wormwood is indigenous to North Africa and it has been used for thousands of years. This deeply fragrant and greyish dwarf shrub is used to treat hypertension, diabetes, bronchitis and neuralgias, while herbal teas made from the bark are used as antibacterial agents in Tunisia.
In Moroccan folk tales, it is used to prevent hypertension, while the nomadic desert Bedouin tribe have used it to cure stomach disorders.
It is used to feed and sustain the sheep and livestock in the Algerian plateau where it grows abundantly.
Umckalaobo (South African geranium)
This plant is native to coastal areas of South Africa. The roots of this plant are said to have an anti-tubercular effect and it can accelerate the body’s natural immune response. It is used to treat respiratory infections, bronchitis and common colds.