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Table 2 Plants used to manage symptoms of HIV and opportunistic infections

From: Traditional health practitioners’ perceptions, herbal treatment and management of HIV and related opportunistic infections

Scientific name; (author); [voucher number] Family Common/Local names Plant part used Uses Notes
Agathosma apiculata E.Mey. ex Bartl. & H.L.Wendl. [TB/DD/7] Rutaceae Honey buchu (Eng); Umbhucu (Zulu) Leaves The leaves are crushed into a pulp and applied directly to the skin or mixed with Vaseline. Used externally to treat shingles and other skin infections, such as sores around the mouth and genitals.
Alepidea capensis (P.J.Bergius) R.A.Dyer [TB/DD/1] Apiaceae Large tinsel flower; Iqwili (Zulu) Roots and stem A decoction of dried roots (a few dried roots boiled in 200 ml water) is used for abdominal and chest pain associated with HIV and TB. Dried stems and roots are smoked, or powdered and taken as snuff. Used as incense to communicate with the ancestors. Inhaling the smoke can result in hallucinogenic sensations and “bad” dreams.
Aloe ferox Mill [TB/DD/16] Asparagaceae Bitter aloe, Red aloe; ikhalana, ikhala, intelezi (Zulu) Leaves The leaves are cut into cubes and dried. They form black crystals which are consumed as a purgative and immune booster. The sap of Aloe is applied to skin for shingles and thrush. Used for HIV and TB
Bulbine alooides (L.) Willd. [TB/DD/15] Xanthorrhoeaceae Rooiwater (Red water) Sap The sap is used internally as a purgative and externally, applied directly to the skin, to treat shingles and thrush. THPs reported that it is a blood purifier attributable to the reddish colour of the sap.
Mentha longifolia (L.) L. [TB/DD/9] Lamiaceae Imboya (Zulu) Leaves Used in a remedy to combat abdominal pains and as a purgative. THPs mash the oily leaves into a pulp and apply to the skin for shingles and herpes zoster The plant is used in moderation. This was because traditional healers reported that, in the past, some of their livestock died from consuming the plant.
Cussonia paniculata Eckl. & Zeyh [TB/DD/4] Araliaceae Mountain cabbage tree; Umsenge (Zulu) Leaves and bark The leaves are used to combat indigestion and as a purgative. The leaves can be chewed straight from the tree or used in a decoction. The bark and leaves are utilised together on the skin to treat shingles or drank as part of a remedy to treat HIV symptoms. This is also given as a general immune booster and tonic. THPs also reported that they use the roots of the plant as a treatment for malaria.
Cussonia spicata Thunb. [TB/DD/14] Araliaceae Wild cabbage tree Intsenge (Zulu) Flowers, roots, fruit and stems The flowers, roots, fruit and stems are used to treat shingles by directly applying to the skin. Also used as a purgative, a general tonic and an immune booster. The flowers and roots are used to treat malaria, stomach complaints and venereal disease. The fruits are eaten raw or in a decoction.
Helichrysum herbaceum (Andrews) Sweet [TB/DD/8] Compositae Natal guarri, Natal ebony or large-leaved guarri; Umtshekesane (Zulu) Roots Used to treat pain and fever, stomach ‘complaints’, worms and chest complaints associated with TB. For respiratory problems (such as TB) the roots are pulverized, boiled and used in a mixture. The roots and bark are used as an ingredient in a variety of remedies.
Foeniculum vulgare Mill. [TB/DD/2] Apiaceae Fennel; Imboziso (Zulu) Leaves THPs use it as a diuretic, anti-spasmodic and calmative herb. The plant is utilised internally and externally in decoctions (50 g of fennel leaves to 500 ml water) to treat genital thrush as well as thrush of the mouth in cases of HIV infection. Frequently used to treat TB. Administered to the chest and given as a warm brew in a remedy to treat coughs, chest pains and inflammation.
Leonotis leonurus (L.) R.Br. [TB/DD/10] Lamiaceae March flower; Hlodlwana (Zulu) Leaves Fresh leaves are applied as a dressing to septic ulcers and sores. The bulb is sliced and boiled in a remedy as a diuretic. The stem and flowers are boiled with water and drank as syrup. Used in a remedy for chest complaints associated with TB. A pulp of the same parts is applied to the abdomen of a woman who is struggling to conceive. This later treatment includes prayers to the ancestors, as well as other rituals such as burning dried imphepho over the abdomen of the woman.
Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall. [TB/DD/5] Hypoxidaceae African potato; Inkomfe (Zulu) Roots The dried root is grated and added to a remedy for HIV symptoms. Also used to treat TB, internal cancers, malaria, and heart diseases. The plant is highly regarded among THPs to treat HIV.
Lessertia frutescens (L.) Goldblatt & J.C. Manning [TB/DD/6] Leguminosae Kankerbossie; uNwele (Zulu) Leaves The leaves are used in a remedy to treat HIV as well as for HIV-TB co-infection. The plant is also used to treat people with suspected cancer. THPs use it as a blood-purifier, an all-purpose tonic, anti-depressant and for respiratory conditions associated with TB such as asthma, bronchitis, influenza, wasting and bronchitis.
Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng. [TB/DD/11] Verbenaceae Fever tea/ Lemon bush; Uvevane (Zulu) Leaves Applied singly to the skin or mixed with Vaseline to make an ointment. Drank as a tea (approximately 50 g added to a cup of boiling water) for the treatment of coughs, colds and bronchial problems. Effective for pain, fever, malaria, influenza, measles, and for lung infections. Is also used as an insect repellent and in cleansing ceremonies.
Prunus africana (Hook. f.) Kalkman [TB/DD/12] Rosaceae Rooistinkhout (Afr.), Inyazangoma-elimnyama (Zulu); uMkakase (Xhosa) Bark The bark is ground and used in a powdered form in a remedy to treat HIV and TB co-infection and chest complaints. The tree is reportedly poisonous when raw and used in moderation.
Merwilla plumbea (Lindl.) Speta [TB/DD/13] Asparagaceae Wild squill, Blue squill, Blue hyacinth, Blouberglelie (Blue mountain Lillie), and Blouslangkop (Blue snake head) Inguduza (Zulu) Bulbs The bulbs are used fresh or dried, warmed or even burnt and administered externally to treat shingles in clients with suspected HIV. The lobes of the bulbs are used in a decoction (a few lobes added to 100 ml of boiling water) to treat shingles. The plant is considered highly toxic when raw and should be handled with extreme caution.
Urtica dioica L. [TB/DD/3] Urticaceae Stinging nettle; Umbabazane (Zulu) Leaves and roots The leaves and roots are boiled with other plants as an anti-inflammatory remedy. Eradicates “poison” in the body as part of remedy to treat HIV and TB co-infection. Used as a calmative and as a purgative. Reportedly used to treat people with attention difficulties and apathy.
Asparagus densiflorus (Kunth) Jessop [TB/DD/17] Asparagaceae uNwele (Zulu) Leaves An infusion of the plants leaves is used to treat abdominal pain, as a general tonic and immune booster and as a cleansing agent to rid the body of “poison.” Also used to treat thrush and ulcers in the mouth associated with HIV. THPs reported that uNwele is one of the “strongest” plants used for HIV.