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The leaves and roots of Leonotis leonurus contain the medicinal constituents that make wild dagga an often-used remedy for a wide variety of ailments including colds, headaches, skin disorders, muscle cramps, and asthma. It has also been used to treat hepatitis, influenza, snakebite, constipation, and high blood pressure. Leonotis leonurus is a flowering perennial native to parts of the African continent that has been used in African traditional medicine for many years.
Also known as motherwort, wild dagga and lion’s tail, Leonotis leonurus is a broadleaf evergreen and a member of the mint family. Its leaves and flowers have been used regularly in some African tribes as a medicinal tea that can induce a hypnotic mood and relieve anxiety and depression. Many believe that the trance state induced by drinking the tea can help a person overcome emotional trauma as well.
The leaves can be used topically to reduce the discomfort of insect bites and stings and to speed healing. Both the leaves and roots are used in decoctions to treat skin conditions such as boils, eczema, and itching. This plant has also been shown to be effective in promoting healing in snake bites, spider bites, and scorpion stings.
Leonotis leonurus is used to treat various menstrual complaints. It has the ability to regulate menstrual periods and eliminate delayed menstruation. Wild dagga also relieves menstrual discomfort and eases the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The leaves and flowers provide a synergistic effect when combined with other substances, increasing their potency. For example, if someone is making chamomile or passionflower tea to reduce insomnia, adding some Leonotis leonurus flowers or leaves to the tea will make the soporific, or sleep-inducing, qualities of the tea much stronger.
Wild dagga has also been used to treat various respiratory afflictions. It contains expectorant properties that can eliminate a cough, and many have used it to relieve the symptoms of colds and bronchitis. Leonotis leonurus is also used in traditional Chinese medicine to aid in body detoxification by its purgative action and to expel parasites.
When they are smoked, the flowers have a mild psychoactive effect that has been described as being similar to marijuana. The euphoria is due to its active constituent leonurine. This is an alkaloid that produces the sedative and psychoactive effects. Either smoking Leonotis leonurus or drinking the tea will provide this euphoria. Some suspect that leonurine might be as addictive as nicotine, but more research needs to be done before this can be confirmed.