Scientific name: Hypoxis Hemerocallidea
Many South Africans, particularly traditional Zulu healers and herbalists, have long used the African potato to treat many conditions. It’s also said to ward off storms and nightmares.
The plant has no relationship to a potato you eat and is actually part of the lily family. It is native to grasslands and woodlands in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Many researchers believe that the African potato has the potential to join mainstream medicine. In healthy people not taking other medicines, it’s considered nontoxic.
African Potato falls under a well sought after category of herbs known as adaptogens. As the name suggests, adaptogens help your body adapt to everyday stressors, including biological, emotional, environmental, and physical factors. Adaptogens restore overall balance and strengthen the function of an individual organ or the body as a whole. It can adapt to the needs of the person taking the plant.
I’ve done some research on this remarkable plant, looking at the ethnobotany uses as well as scientific studies on it. I find it incredible that the scientific findings on the plant support the old traditional and historical uses. I would love to share my findings with you.
Here is what African Potato can help you with:
A Urinary Supporter
African Potato is used to treat urinary system disorders such as urinary tract infections (UTI), bladder infections (cystitis) and frequent urination. It has shown activity against both E. Faecalis and E. coli which is estimated to cause 80% of all UTI’s.
A Universal Supporter
African Potato is given as a treatment for physical weakness to encourage strength in weak/frail children and old people. It is also used during recovery from illness and against diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer.
A Digestive Reliever
Infusions of the mature corms are used for stomach problems, as a purgative, a laxative and to expel intestinal worms.
An Immune Modulator
The African wild potato contains a substance called beta-sitosterol, which scientists believe could help strengthen the immune system. African Potato is used to build up and modulate the immune system of patients suffering from diseases such as cancer and HIV. A phytochemical derived from Hypoxis is hypoxoside. This is an inactive compound that is converted to rooperol, which has potent pharmacological properties relevant to cancer, inflammation diseases and HIV. There are also unsubstantiated reports that African potato extracts stabilize CD4 lymphocytes in HIV/AIDS.
A Peaceful Creator
African Potato has also been shown to be effective in the treatment or support in anxiety, palpitations, depression and insanity due to the plant’s adaptogenic, antidepressant and anxiolytic (reduce anxiety) properties.
Also, just so that you know, I make and sell an African Wormwood Tincture. If you would like to try it?
A Man’s Supporter
African Potato is used for the improvement of prostate disorders such as benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) in particular and testicular tumours.
African Potato is used for the treatment of gonorrhoea, dizziness, wasting disease, cancer, polyarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, fibromyalgia, measles and asthma.
One of the compounds in African Potato is hypoxoside which contains rooperol, an antioxidant. Antioxidants help protect the body against free radicals that can damage cells and cause many diseases. These diseases include cancer, heart failure, and Alzheimer’s disease.
It has a high sterol and sterolin content which may possess potent anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening properties. As the action is similar to cortisone it may reverse tissue damage and soothe muscular aches.
The rootstock juice is reported to be applied to skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, scars, burns, wounds, rashes, bedsores, warts, stretch marks, sunburn, insect bites and dry skin.
Anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties have been identified in studies making it useful in treating anti-inflammatory diseases and conditions like oedema and arthritis.
The leaves are tough and flexible and are used for weaving, tying and binding. Several leaves can be twisted together into a rope.
Properties and Actions
Adaptogenic, Anthelmintics, Antibacterial, Anticonvulsant, Antidepressant, Anti-HIV, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Anti-tumor, Anxiolytic (reduce anxiety), Cytotoxic (anti-cancerous), Diuretic (urination), Emetic (promotes vomiting), Hypoglycaemic, Hypotensive (lower blood pressure), Immunomodulator, Laxative, Tonic
Reproductive System, Immune System, Respiratory System, Urinary System, Cardiovascular System, Endocrine System, Lymphatic System
I’ve also used African Potato in my
- Roberts, M. 2017. Indigenous Healing Plants. Page 114-115
- Van Wyk, B. Van Oudtshoorn, B. Gericke, N. 2017. Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Page 178
- SANBI. PlantZAfrica.com – http://pza.sanbi.org/hypoxis-hemerocallidea
- Research Gate: Kiban Research Publications. International Journal of of Ayurveda. The Use of Hypoxis Hemerocallidea and H. Obtusa in Bapedi Phytomedicine in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.
- ScienceDirect, Elsevier. The South African Journal of Botany (Anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant activity of Hypoxis hemerocallidea (Hypoxidaceae): Can leaves be substituted for corms as a conservation strategy?) – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S025462990800197X
- Yvette van Wijk’s ethnobotany research.