There was a time when suggesting traditional herbs in Zimbabwe was taboo. Members of various religions believed that these herbs belonged to evil spirits. It was believed that if you take these herbs, you give way to evil spirits in your life. However, people forgot that these were the same herbs that healed and treated their ancestors. This was before the introduction of any foreign religion or medicine. It is only recently that Zimbabweans have started to search for indigenous herbs in Zimbabwe. They may have realised that spiritual and Western medicine doesn’t always work. Especially on chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. As a result, people have realised that maybe the solutions they need are in indigenous traditional medicine.
You can utilise indigenous herbs in Zimbabwe for many diseases. There are many herbs for respiratory, sexual, stomach and venereal problems. I am compiling these herbs in a series of articles on indigenous herbs in Zimbabwe.
Remember, the aim is to educate you on herbal solutions for health problems. This is not medical advice.
Indigenous herbs in Zimbabwe
21 traditional herbs from the Zimbabwean countryside
1.Mugan’acha (Lannea discolor)
This indigenous Zimbabwean herb helps in reducing the duration of menstrual flow in females. Mugan’acha also helps in the healing of sore eyes.
Women use mugan’acha fibres as a herbal remedy for reducing menstrual flow. People also use the roots to heal sore eyes. The root extract is used as an eye drop for sore eyes.
2.Mubhedha (Ozoria insignis )
This traditional herb from Zimbabwe can help you treat diarrhoea, venereal diseases and STIs. The root extracts of this herb have medicinal uses.
You can extract the remedy using water steeping and decoction. Decoction remedies are made by boiling herbal mixtures for about 5 minutes thus they are stronger.
3.Mufokosiyana/ Musokosiyana (Rhus longipipes)
Musokosiyana produces a very tiny disc-shaped tarty fruit. I remember we used to flood the forests after school just to get a taste. I am quite fond of wild fruits so yeah I would be at the forefront of the search.
The plant also has medicinal uses. Women use the roots of mufokosiyana to dilate the birth canal during pregnancy. It can also help in herbal remedies for infertility.
Like the many other indigenous herbs from Zimbabwe, you must take root extracts. Root extracts have the strongest herbal properties.
4.Mupfura (Schlerocarya birrea)
Mupfura is a common tree in several parts of Zimbabwe. It’s more common for the tasty mapfura fruits used to make traditional mapfura beer. In addition, the fruits have an inner woody core. Within this core, you can find some of the tastiest local tree nuts.
However, the roots of the mupfura tree also have medicinal uses. If you crush the roots and put them in water, you can make an eye remedy. You must boil the root water mixture and allow the steam to enter sore eyes.
5. Mubikasadza (Scarsia dentala)
Mubikasadza is quite a common indigenous herb in Zimbabwe. It has several medicinal uses that you can make use of. The leaves are used in herbal remedies.
Mubikasadza leaf sap can help you treat ulcers, diarrhoea and stomach problems. You just take the leaves and chew them. The sap produced is the one you need to swallow as your remedy.
6. Mufokosiyana (Searsia/ Rhus tenuinervis)
Mufokosiyana has several medicinal uses.
A decoction of the roots helps in the treatment of chest pains and severe coughing. The outer layer of the root is crushed indo a powder and rubbed on cheek incisions to treat toothache.
Leaf extracts can help treat menorrhagia in women. Also the bark decoction can help in treating chronic diarrhoea.
7. Muroro (Annona stenophylla)
Muroro is a traditional Zimbabwean fruit plant that produces tasty yellow fruits. It is usually found in valleys and vleis. Maroro fruits are no longer as common as they used to be in my area. The plants just seem like they decided to stop fruiting.
Anyway, muroro gives us both fruits and medicinal remedies. The extracts of roots can help heal boils. You just need to make a root paste and apply it to the boils. You can also drink the root extracts as chest pain and STI remedy.
If you sprinkle the root powder around your home, it can act as a snake repellent.
8. Muruguru (Carissa bispinosa and Carissa edulis)
Muruguru plants exist in diff from species. Some of these plants have herbal uses in traditional herbal medicine in Zimbabwe.
Carissa bispinosa root extracts can help treat coughs and diarrhoea. They also have analgesic properties which make them herbal painkillers.
Carissa edulis root extracts can also help treat diarrhoea, coughs, chest pains and pneumonia. They are also used in the herbal treatment of tuberculosis.
9. Chirindamatongo (Catharanthus Roseus)
Traditional herbs in Zimbabwe for treating stomach problems are very common. Chirindamatongo is your herbal remedy of choice for treating stomach problems. It can help you deal with diarrhoea, dysentery and indigestion.
10. Rukato (Asparagus africanus)
Rukato is a very common Shona herb in Masvingo province. The extracts of rukato roots act as diarrhoea and pneumonia medicine. You must take these extracts orally in a drink.
Women use rukato to dilate the birth canal so that childbirth becomes easier.
11. Zvikonje (Sansevieria aethiopica)
I have many Apostolic churches using zvikonje in their holy remedies. This is seen as a holy plant by several Apostolic sects in Zimbabwe. They mix a piece of the leaf with cooking oil and boil. The resultant mixture treats stomach problems in toddlers.
Traditionally zvikonje is used as an earache remedy. The juice sap is squeezed into a painful ear as an earache remedy.
12. Musavamhanda (Sansevieria hyacinthoides)
Both the leaves and rhizome roots of the plant make good herbal medicine. The sap of the leaves and rhizomes is given to children suffering from dehydration. Macerated leaves can help make dressings for sprained ankles.
This herb is also useful in pregnant and expecting women. They add the rhizome to a non-alcoholic beverage they drink. This helps in dilating the birth canal and reducing birth complications.
13. Gavakava (Aloe greatheadii)
The different species of gavakava are one of the most common traditional herbs in Zimbabwe. The plants have been used in remedies to treat both livestock and humans.
Gavakava sap can help you get rid of stomach helminthic worms like tapeworms. Some believe that it can help reverse the prediabetic state.
In addition, this species of gavakava is used to treat constipation and gonorrhoea.
14. Mupasa (Brachylaena discolor)
The leaves of mupasa have been used as an anti-ulcer remedy. They can help in treating ulcers and conditions in which the stomach bleeds. You can use mupasa by chewing the leaves and roots. You then swallow the sap produced from chewing.
15. Mupepe (Cammiphora marlothii)
Zimbabwe has many herbal remedies for treating STIs. Mupepe can help treat STIs. The extracts from the mupepe roots act as an STI remedy. You can take the remedy by drinking the root extracts.
16. Chizhuzhu (Gymnosporia buxifolia)
For abdominal pains and painful menstruation, the chizhuzhu herb may help. All you have to do is chew its leaves and swallow the sap.
17. Muchakata (Parinaricura tellifolia)
This herb from the muchakata tree acts as a toothache and constipation remedy. You need the root extract of the plants for your herbal remedy. For constipation, you must drink the root extracts for treatment. For toothache, you have to wash your teeth using the decoction tea of the roots.
18. Mutunduru (Garcinia buchananii)
Mutunduru has aphrodisiac properties. You can use the herb to enhance your sexual energy. You can eat the fruit as an aphrodisiac. Women use mutunduru traditionally to reduce the size of the birth canal. For this, you can drink the bark extract of mutunduru.
19. Muchacha (Cucumis anguria)
This plant can help you repel snakes from your homestead. Muchacha fruit pieces have snake-repellent effects. You can place pieces of the fruit around your homestead to repel snakes.
20. Musumadombo (Diospyros lycioides)
Extracts of the roots can help treat infertility in females. These herbs are quite popular among those with infertility problems.
21. Musuma (Diospyros mespiliformis)
Roots extracts of the plant make good cough medicine. Boiling the roots in water produces a herbal decoction. You must drink this decoction as your cough medicine.
Conclusion on traditional herbs in Zimbabwe
There are many helpful traditional herbs in Zimbabwe. These can help you manage and deal with chronic diseases. Sometimes these herbs may even be able to heal you. However, do not overuse these herbal remedies for they may have serious side effects. Whilst the phytochemical composition of some herbs may be known, harmful quantities of most herbs are not strictly known. So, it’s possible to get traditional herb poisoning. Zimbabwe’s hospitals still receive many cases of herbal poisoning. You must therefore make use of reputable and registered traditional healers.