Scientific name: Leonotis leonurus
Although it is not quite known how long Wild Dagga has been used for, it is the Hottentot tribe that is most famously known for its use in spiritual and recreational pursuits. Other tribes, such as the Zulu and Xhosa, are also known to use it for numerous ailments. Its wide range of applications has seen it become such an integral herb within these cultures and in herbal medicine practices.
The plant is a general tonic, having reputed dermatological, hypertension, anti-inflammatory, pain and wound healing properties. It has broad uses including digestive disorders, infections, musculoskeletal disorders, nerve disorders, protective charm, respiratory disorders, skin disorders, eco-gardening and veterinary uses.
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 Wild Dagga aka Lion’s Tail can help you with:
A Blood Cleanser
Wild Dagga is used for ‘blood impurity’. The infusions made from flowers and seeds, leaves or stems are widely used as tonics for cleansing the body of tuberculosis, jaundice, muscular cramps, influenza, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin diseases, viral hepatitis, dysentery and diarrhoea as well as bee and scorpion stings, and snakebite. Tea made from the whole plant is used for arthritis, piles, bladder and kidney disorder, obesity, cancer and rheumatism.
A Digestive Reliever
Wild Dagga is used for digestive complaints including constipation. Infusions of leaves and stems are taken for dysentery, an infection of the intestines causing diarrhoea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and fever. The plant also contains significant amounts of nutrients and minerals.
A Respiratory Protector
Internally, Wild Dagga is taken for coughs, colds, influenza, bronchitis, asthma and tuberculosis. An ethanol extract has also shown activity against the K. pneumonia bacteria. The effects against respiratory infections are attributed to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic, antispasmodic and purifying blood tonic properties.
A Liver Supporter
Wild Dagga has also shown positive signs against viral hepatitis and jaundice. Ethanol extracts show strong hepatoprotective properties, meaning that it helps to prevent damage to the liver and restore the liver membranes. This could be due to its free radical scavenging and antioxidant activity.
A Pain Reliever
Wild Dagga shows strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. Therefore, the plant can be used to relieve pain and tension in the body.
Also, just so that you know, I make and sell an African Wormwood Tincture. If you would like to try it?
High blood pressure
Leave decoctions are taken for high blood pressure. The aqueous extract shows hypotensive effects in hypertensive and normotensive male Wistar rats. The plant decreased the blood pressure and heart rate in hypertensive rats and had no effects in normotensive rats.
An Anti-diabetic Supporter
Traditionally the plant leaf and flowers are used to treat diabetes. Studies have shown that the leaves aqueous extract show hypoglycaemic effects by reducing the blood glucose and low-density lipoprotein while increasing high-density lipoprotein levels. The diabetic activity was attributed to the different flavonoids, diterpenoids polyphenolics, but recently Marrubin was identified as the antidiabetic active constituent of the plant. Marrubin also has anticoagulant, antiplatelet and anti-inflammatory properties.
An Epilepsy Reliever
The dried leaves and flowers of Wild Dagga are smoked for partial paralysis and to relieve epilepsy. The leaves and flowers are reported to produce a mild euphoric effect when smoked and have been said to have a similar, although less potent, psychoactive effect to cannabis. A brew made with flowers and leaves has been used to treat epilepsy.
An Obesity and Haemorrhoids Manager
Interestingly, there are records of the tea being used as a diuretic to reduce obesity. Tea of the leaves and flowers are used daily for water retention, obesity and haemorrhoids.
The anthelmintic metabolites are not yet fully identified, but reports support the careful use of tWild Dagga against nematodes parasites. Antinematodal activity has been demonstrated for both the aqueous and ethanol extracts of the plant.
A Wound Healer
Wild Dagga has been shown to contain free radical scavenging antioxidant properties that are essential in wound healing as they accelerate the healing process. Topical applications are applied to treat sores and skin infections, including boils, eczema, skin diseases, itching, muscular cramps, scorpion stings, and snakebites.
The leaves are smoked for epilepsy and headaches. Coldwater infusions of pounded leaves are drawn into the nostrils to relieve feverish headaches. Decoctions of stems or seeds are also used for headaches.
The Xhosa and Zulu people use root decoctions for snakebites. They also sprinkle this decoction around their houses to keep snakes away.
The plant is not recommended during pregnancy and should be taken fresh. The plant should be carefully used for medicinal purposes.
Properties and Actions
Analgesics, Anthelmintics, Antibacterial, Anticonvulsant, Antidiabetic, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-fungal, Antimicrobial, Antinociceptive, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic, Anthelmintic, Cholagogue, Cardiotonic (heart health), Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Hallucinogenic, Hypotensive (lower blood pressure,) Hypoglycemic, Purgative, Tonic, Vulnerary (heals wounds)
Respiratory, Digestive, Nervous, Urinary, Cardiovascular, Muscular, Exocrine
I also use Wild Dagga in my
Pain Relief Blend
- Roberts, M. 2017. Indigenous Healing Plants. Page 154 -155
- Van Wyk, B. Van Oudtshoorn, B. Gericke, N. 2017. Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Page 188
- Sanbi – Leonotis leonurus. http://pza.sanbi.org/leonotis-leonurus (17/08/20)
- Herb Acadamy – Leonotis Leonurus. https://herbclass.com/monographs/leonotis-leonorus/#:~:text=Leonotis%20leonurus%20(wilde%20dagga%2C%20wild,addition%20to%20the%20eco%2Dgarden. (17/08/20)
- Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2015 – Leonotis leonurus: A herbal medicine review
- Useful Tropical Plants. Leonotis Leonurus – http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Leonotis+leonurus (18/08/20)
- PubMed – “Wild cannabis”: A review of the traditional use and phytochemistry of Leonotis leonurus – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26292023/ (18/08/20)
- Zamnesia – WILD DAGGA: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW – https://www.zamnesia.com/content/412-what-is-leonotis-leonurus
- Yvette van Wijk’s ethnobotany research.