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.
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.
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
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.
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….
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.
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…
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.