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South Africa-A natural pharmacy

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We all know that South Africa is filled with loads of beautiful plants, but did you know that a lot of those plants can be used for health care? We’ve rounded up 6 of these special plants so you can try the home-grown home remedies.

ALOE FEROX

Similar to Aloe vera, ‘bitter aloe’ is said to contain more amino acids than Aloe vera and it produces almost 20 times more sap. Probably the most famous of our natural skin care exports, many beauty products on our shelves already incorporate Aloe ferox because of its healing and restoring properties, so if you don’t like the idea of swiping a plant over your face, look out for products rich in the plant.

Try this: The gel from a fresh leaf can be massaged into your skin for a few minutes and even left on while you sleep to release toxins and tone your skin.

ROOIBOS

The incredible plant that supplies our beloved national beverage also has a range of beauty uses to keep you looking gorgeous. Its scientific name is Aspalathus linearis and the leaves of the plant are packed full of antioxidants for younger-looking, supple skin. The team at African Extracts has harnessed the power of this plant.

Strong Rooibos tea used as a rinse for dark hair will give it a beautiful shine, and if your hair is light it will add a reddish hue.

Sore and tired eyes benefit from having cold Rooibos tea bags placed over them for some relief.

If you’ve got problem skin, try mixing ½ cup strong Rooibos tea (warm), ½ tsp apple cider vinegar and 2 tsp oatmeal and applying to inflamed areas. Sit back and relax for 15 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry.

Try this: Wash your face with cold or lukewarm Rooibos tea. Its anti-inflammatory properties will leave your face feeling soothed.

WILD ROSEMARY

This woody shrub, native to the Cape, has thin, spiky leaves that smell fragrant when crushed. Because of its scent, Eriocephalus africanus is often used in aromatherapy, and the oil extracted from its leaves has potent anti-inflammatory properties, making it a good choice for soothing skin disorders.

Try this: Boil a bunch of wild rosemary sprigs and flowers with a litre of water for about 15 minutes and then leave to cool. Use this fragrant water to rinse your hair after washing to stimulate hair growth.

African Potato

African potato is indigenous to the grasslands and woodlands in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland and also goes by the name Bantu Tulip. The delicate plant, not at all family of the spub, but rather, would you guess it the lily. Its the bulbous base of the stem forms slender corms, instead of potato-like tubers, hence its ironic name.

African Potato is renowned for its immune boosting properties and is reputed to be effective in the battle against cancer, TB, asthma, HIV Aids and a host of other chronic conditions. Its also highly effective in soothing a variety of skin conditions, from irritation and inflammation to sunburns and eczema as well as relief from joint stiffness, sprains, arthritis and muscular pain.

Marula

Most patriotic South Africans will be familiar with this botanical from the delicious cream liqueur poured over ice. The oil used for health purposes is also harvested from the fruit of that same tree, the Marula Tree, or Elephant Tree. It’s namesake feast on its fruit, which is incredibly rich in vitamin C, containing 8 times more than oranges.

It’s a wonderfully nourishing and hydrating oil, helping to maintain the skin’s natural lipids. Also rich in omegas 6 & 9, it helps restructure and regenerate skin cells. And as a powerful source of anti-oxidants (maruline, tocopherols, flavanols, procyanidin and catechins), the oil acts as a free radical scavenger, treating dry skin, stretch marks and skin irritations.

African Ginger

African ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus) is localised to Mpumalanga and the Northern Province. It is one of the most frequently used medicinal herbs in South Africa’s informal sector and is fast becoming endangered. The rhizomes and roots are dried and crushed into powder or tablet form and used to treat myriad health issues, from coughs, colds, asthma and flu to candida and menstrual cramps.

Try this: To make ginger tea at home, slice 20 to 40 grams (g) of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties.

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