Sandy Roberts, the daughter of the famous herbalist Margaret
Roberts, shares advice on how people should be using the Artemisia afra (mhlonyane) plant and
when it can become dangerous.
Sandy Roberts, the daughter of the famous herbalist Margaret Roberts, shares advice on how people should be using the Artemisia afra (mhlonyane) plant and when it can become dangerous.
Artemisia afra is one of the most sought-after plants at the moment. It is sold in various parts of the country and many people are consuming it because it has been rumoured to help fight off COVID-19 symptoms.
But does the plant help alleviate COVID-19 symptoms? Is it safe to consume? Sandy Roberts, a herbalist for more than 30 years and the co-author of the best-selling book - ’Indigenous Healing Plants’, shares insight about the plant.
Names of the plant
The wilde-als has a variety of names in the different parts of the world. It is called the wild wormwood, artemisia afra, wilde-als, mhlonyane or lengana. This plant has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions.
The artemisia afra is one of the healthiest plants.
“Its medicinal uses are absolutely amazing. It is a natural disinfectant, well known for treating many ailments especially chest conditions, coughs, colds, heartburn, gout, worms in children, nose bleeds and to release phlegm amongst other things in the body," says Roberts.
Link to COVID-19
The plant recently gained much popularity due to people claiming that it could cure the coronavirus. Health officials have warned against these claims.
Roberts also adds that the plant affects people differently and incorrect use of it can cause more harm than good.
"If you are pregnant or suffer from heart conditions or high blood pressure, one should be extremely careful of taking this herb," says Sandy.
“We have got to be very careful that we don’t put our hope into one plant. It depends on how badly affected each person is by the COVID-19 and what they need. It will not replace a ventilator. We have to be very sensible about how we look at dealing with Covid-19. It is a pandemic that is unlike any other we have dealt with in the past. There is no instant cure for anybody at this stage,” says the expert.
She says that although the plant has not been proven to be the cure for COVID- 19, it still has many great benefits and helps boost the immune system.
“The Wilde-als is one of those fascinating plants, it has got to so many healing elements to it."
Sandy says the plant is so good that people should not be without it in their homes. It can be taken as tea or it can be used to steam.
To make the tea, Sandy says one should use five leaves per cup. She says the tea should be steeped for five minutes and then strained.
"Do not drink more than 3 times a day for a maximum of 5 days, then stop for a week. It’s got a very potent fragrance and flavour. You can sweeten it with a bit of honey,” she says.
“Drinking the tea is very powerful. It breaks down the flu symptoms and it boosts the immune system,” says the herbalist.
For steaming, Sandy says one can use a handful of leaves in a basin with a few drops of Eucalyptus oil with boiling water and a towel. You must then inhale and exhale over the steam for a few minutes. Sandy says this will help open up their lungs.
"If you don’t have Eucalyptus oil one can pick a few handfuls of fresh Blue gum leaves to add to the Artemesia-afra in the boiling water," she says.
However, Sandy warns against consuming and using plants without cleaning them, especially if you are not sure where the plant was grown.
She says plants that were were grown on the roadside might be contaminated by petrol fumes.
“I believe it is more dangerous using something that is not clean, so you have got to be very careful of where you buy the plant. There is a lot of imported rubbish on the market and one must be very aware of what you put into your body. You are investing in your future by looking after your body safely and properly," says the expert.
"Always be [a] hundred per cent sure of what you use and how to take herbs. Taking too much of a plant is just as bad as taking none,” says the herbalist.
She concludes that although herbs are healthy, one has to do research and consult their doctor before using them.
Image courtesy of Facebook/ @Sandyroberts
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