Of Going Back To The Roots

While the global pandemic and COVID regulations have pushed the fast forward button on e-commerce and tech adoption in business, curiously the corona virus has also taken us back to our roots, literally and figuratively.

Roots and herbal remedies have encountered a return to the spotlight. The kind of cures that are like old wives tales or traditional remedies passed down generation to generation which had seemingly disappeared with the adoption of “modern” read that as western knowledge systems.

lemon garlic and ginger home remedy

Life Before Corona I don’t think I could have imagined one could convince some adults to dig for roots and forage for leaves to turn into concoctions unless they were extracted, bottled or dried and crushed into capsules then sold at a pharmacy near you. But now people set reminders that its time to take their medicine which can consist of onions, ginger, garlic, guava leaves, eucalyptus leaves, avocado leaves, lemons and lemon peels.

preparing a home tonic for covid
preparing a home tonic – photo: Demetilie Amupolo


Zumbani has been one such “herb” which has shot from being a little known outcast to a belle of the ball, chilling in the VIP section with cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers and other bougie herbs. I was first introduced to Zumbani over four years ago and as a herbal tea which was pleasantly intriguing with its somewhat minty citrusy flavor. Zumbani/Umsuzwane is also know as Fever Tea Tree or Lemon Bush lippia javanica

Zumbani in supermarket

While there has been no medical research to support its efficacy at curing COVID independent reports show it to be rich in vital nutrients such as Potassium and Magnesium and has anti-oxidant properties.  I don’t know about all that but I thought it makes very nice herbal tea.

Zumbani tea and dried leaves


Wormwood or Artemisia Anua got limelight last year after being called a miracle cure for COVID and was the major ingredient in Madagascar’s miracle cure by COVID Organics. While some of the plants “healing” attributes are derived from it having artemisinin, a compound used in malaria cure, a 2012 report by the World Health Organisation did not recommend its usage citing that it did not have enough artemisinin levels to cure malaria and might instead cause drug resistance.


When the hunt for this herb begun some people came up to say how growing up they remembered the local version of this herb Artemisia Afra African wormwood being used to treat colds and flus and if burnt as incense, was also said to dispel evil spirits which could cause nightmares or make new borns cry uncontrollably. The roots, stems and leaves are taken as enemas, poultices, infusions, body washes, lotions, smoked, snuffed or drunk as a tea….

African wormwood
African Wormwood

When I was about six or so; I remember my grandmother burning the stems of a plant after my cousin started manifesting behavior which suspiciously seemed like a possession, speaking in a growl and foaming at the mouth…. Cant say for certain if it was that plant above, and she is not around for me to ask.


A new trend which has made a return is kunatira /Kufukira (steaming) This is a practice where you cover yourself with a blanket leaning over a bucket of steaming hot water and breathe in the vapour, sometimes a red hot rock is added (to keep it hot I presume) Some just breathe in the steam while others add a few drops of medicated menthol from Vapour rubs or similar oils. Some folk use a concoction of herbs and after inhaling the vapour they drink the cooler liquid.

adds Vicks VapoRub to boiled water in order to make a warm moisture and use it for steaming in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, August 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Demetilie Amupolo)
Adding Vicks VapoRub to boiled water for steaming – photo: Demetilie Amupolo

People were skeptical at first but again while there isn’t any medical proof, people are swearing by how steaming helped decongested nasal passages and alleviate covid symptoms. Others claim that the hot steam kills the virus but I rather doubt that one could handle breathing in steam at a temperature which can kill the COVID Virus without sustaining serious burns…

Steam Inhalation does not cure covid-19

Again this knowledge of steaming was something passed down with some older folks saying for them when they were growing up, it was a regular ritual and it may have helped strengthen their respiratory systems as they never experienced recurring bouts of colds and flu…


One of the latest “cures” has been the use of snuff (powdered tobacco) which is inhaled through the nose and results in a bout of sneezing. Its been suggested that the resultant sneezing can decongest respiratory passages…. Again haven’t heard of any medical research to support this. Interestingly the habit of snuff is also occupies a position in our tradition and culture and is used in rituals involving ancestors.

There’s obviously something of benefit in these traditional knowledge systems if it worked for our ancestors. Instead of dismissing some of these, I am always wondering why we don’t have the research and work on on fusing the modern technology with indigenous knowledge to figure out what exactly is in our roots, what works and what doesnt.

One day we may wake up and find how we always had the cure by our doorstep….

…What COVID cures or at least remedies for symptoms that are rooted hahaha in indigenous home remedies have you run into?


PS as a public service announcement some doctors were crying over how they lost patients that could have been saved because they came for treatment too late while trying out ineffective home remedies which gave a false sense of security. See a doctor if symptoms persist for more than four days. 



  1. Hi Beaton, thank you for a humorous post!
    First of all, I need feedback on that leaf-mask picture. Secondly, steaming totally work! well, not for covid, per say, but for fevers and the like. My mum steamed me and my siblings whenever we came up with flu like symptoms, but especially, when we came down with malaria, which when I was growing up, was as common as breathing.
    But, $77.50 for a bunch of leaves?? come on now!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha we are awaiting medical research on the leaf-mask 🤣🤣
      Interesting thing about the stwaking… well didn’t know about it helping with malaria but I do know about colds, flu, fevers and it helping swear out toxins and such.

      Oh the price for “the bunch of leaves” is in our local currency which would be just under 1USD using the official exchange rate, although a couple years back we had pegged our currency at 1:1 with the USD but that’s a long complicated story.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Well, eucalyptus leaves and steaming works wonders (for colds/flu like symptoms ofcourse, don’t know about Covid though 🤷🏾‍♀️). I honestly love the fact that people are “going back to their roots” because I believe that’s the only healthy and safe way cure ourselves. I’ve always been a big advocate for natural remedies.

    I enjoyed reading this post a lot, it’s dear to my heart. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a big fan of going back to our roots…. This whole blog is built on not only going back to roots But watering them too 🤣

      Also I chanced upon something interesting that for those whom the natural remedies work would probably have recovered without need for any other medication.


  3. I steamed twice this week and as always, it worked. Plus I like the after-feel on my skin😁.

    This is the first I’m hearing of Zumbani. I wonder what the local name is here in Nigeria.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was looking forward to this post 😂
    I love how none of these have scientific backing but hey, what we think works, works 😂

    Have you been steaming? Some funny pictures I’ve been seeing of people steaming could result in suffocation 😂
    People are too funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can testify that artemisia afra works but ymmv. Great post. Also I had no idea zumbani is umsuzwane which I’m familiar with for other uses. Imma need to do some research to be sure it’s the same plant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well they don’t call artemisia afra wormwood for nothing it’s bitter 🤣 and interesting fact its mentioned in the Bible too Rev8:10-11….

      Moving on yep umsuzwane and zumbani appear to be the same herb and it’s uses are quite diverse too especially if it is mixed with artemisia afra the question would be what can’t it do🤔
      Curious about the other uses you mention I don’t know why I imagine a summoning circle and candles … Been watching too much of an Indian supernatural series called Evil Eye on Star Life and it’s taken me down a rabbit hole 🤣


      1. Energetic cleansing sounds about right.

        I totally don’t recommend you tune into Starlife at 10pm every day of the week or catch the repeat at 9am and 1pm daily. Neither should you ask how I know this.


      2. It’s a little known Bollywood channel on DSTV and also open view…. And it could have been a bit horrific if they had a very big budget for the graphics 🤣 but it’s a bit funny if not ridiculous and I can’t even explain why I watch it save to say for research purposes 🤔 yep I’ll go with that.


    1. We may have been onto something with our traditional healing.

      But just to put it out there some research seems to show that while traditional cures can alleviate symptoms they aren’t a cure and a person who gets “cured” using herbs might have likely still recovered without doing anything else.


  6. Most people do not have money to go and see a doc hence the trend nowadays of going back to the roots. We are all redisccovering the herbal meds for some of the most common ailements and as for me its working so far so good. Will be steaming with Zumbani and having moringa tea this evening . 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The price of going to a doctor or pharmacy for meds is prohibitive especially with those who want USDs

      I prefer Zumbani tea to moringa tea 🤣


  7. Fakes cures will always be with us I guess, it’s pretty harmless when it’s stuff for the common cold, but fake cures for HIV/AIDS, Autism, covid19, etc can have very deadly consequences. Snake oil sellers will do anything to make a buck

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thats the worst bit that there is alwasy someone is out to make a quick buck selling dreams and snake oil at the expense of one’s misfortune.

      Wont take away that the placebo effect can psychologically help people deal and it may even alleviate symptoms people must be careful not to mistake a cure for a remedy


      Liked by 1 person

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