The Origins of Plant Medicine: Africa




  • Sophie Kittredge

Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) is native to the forests of western Africa. The Bantu tribe used its bark as a male aphrodisiac, and the herb has been used in conventional medicine to treat impotence. Yohimbe contains alkaloids that stimulate the brain, but they are toxic in high doses.

The castor bean (Ricinus communis), from which we obtain castor oil, was listed in the Ebers papyrus. The plant is believed to be native to eastern Africa and is cultivated today in hot climates around the world. The seeds are toxic but oil from the seeds is not. Castor oil is used as a base in cosmetics and as a laxative; recently, researchers have been exploring the castor bean’s effectiveness as a contraceptive.

Aloe (Aloe vera) is native to eastern and southern Africa. Legend has it that Cleopatra attributed her beauty to aloe vera gel, which comes from the leaves. At the base of aloe leaves, one can find a yellow sap that, when dried, yields “bitter aloes,” which are strongly laxative. Aloe gel is a ­powerful healer of burns and wounds, and research shows that the gel contains aloectin B, which stimulates the immune system.

Senna (Cassia senna) is native to tropical Africa and was first used medicinally by Arabian physicians in the ninth cen­tury. Then, as now, its medicinal value comes from its strength as a laxative. Senna causes the muscles of the large intestine to contract and prevents fluid from being absorbed.

Visnaga (Ammi visnaga) provided the Egyptians with a remedy for kidney stones. Today, the herb still is used to ease the pain of kidney stones and is the source of a drug used to treat asthma.

Visnaga derivatives have a powerful ­antispasmodic action on the bronchial muscles.


Click here for the original article,  The Origins of Plant Medicine .



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds