Succulent Plant Site | Medicinal Plants

Medicinal Succulents

Before using any of these remedies consult a qualified health practitioner.


Aloe ferox: (Kaapse aalwyn - Cape Aloe, bitter aloe)

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used: Leaf sap, resinous solid known as aloe lump or Cape aloe.

  • Cape aloes or aloe lump is used as a laxative.
  • Leaves or roots that are boiled in water are taken as a laxative, arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitus, hypertension and stress.
  • The leaf sap of other species, like A. arborescens and A.greatheadii, is applied externally to treat skin ailments, bruises and burns.
  • The Dried leaves of A.marlothii is a popular ingredient in some snuffs.
  • Aloe is also found in many lotions and supplements.
  • Fresh bitter sap is used for conjunctivitis and sinusitis.


Adansonia digitata: (Boabab, Kremetart - cream of tartar)
Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used:    Dried fruit pulp, bark and seldom the leaves or seeds.

  • A drink is prepared from the fruit pulp which is known as the "cream of tartar".  The drink is used to treat fevers, diarrhoea and haemoptysis.
  • The leaves and bark are used in West Africa for their purported anti-inflammatory and anti-diaphoretic (decrease perspiration) properties.  They are used as a remedy for urinary disorders and mild diarrhoea.  The leaves are used for fevers, to reduce persiration and as an astringent.
  • In the Northern province of South Africa the powdered seeds are given to children as a hiccup remedy.
  • Baobab bark has been sold in Europe under the name "cortex cael cedra" for the treatment of fevers and a substitute for cinchona bark.


Carpobrotus spp: (suurvye or sour fig)
Culinary uses:
Carpobrotus spp especially C. edulis also known as suurvye (sour fig) is well known for its culinary properties.  The fruit of the plant can be eaten, one simply bites off the bottom of the ripe or dried capsule and sucks out the slimy contents.  The fruit is sold commercially in Cape Towns many informal markets.  The fruit is also used as an ingredient in many Eastern dishes.  A delicious preserve (jam) is made from the fruit.

Medicinal uses:
Parts Used:    Leaves and leaf juice.
The juice of the leaf of Carpobrotus species is highly astringent and is used to treat mouth, throat and fungal infections.  It is applied to wounds, burns and applied externally to treat eczema.  The juice is also used internally for dysentry, digestive troubles, tuberculosis and as a diuretic and styptic.  Also said to be effective against earache, toothache and oral and vaginal thrush.

Preparation and Dosage:

  • Gargle with the fresh leaf juice.
  • Apply the juice or leaf pulp onto skin.
  • Take juice internally.

Other uses:
Carpobrotus spp are used around the world as ground cover which prevents soil erosion.  They are used as firebreaks/firegaurds,  which prevents the spread of fire from one location to another.

Sceletium spp: (Kougoed or chewing stuff)
Other uses:
Species of this genus are used as an stimulant, they contain alkaloids of the mesembrine type that have a mild stimulating and hypnotic effect.  It is similiar to that of tobacco (nicotine) yet it is not physically or psychologically addictive like tobacco (nicotine) even with habitual use.

Khadia, Mestoklema and Trichodiadema spp: (moerwortel - moerwortelvygie)
Traditional uses:
Moer means yeast and wortel means root, these mesembs where used to enhance the fermentation process of the brewing of traditional beers like honey and sorghum beer.

Psilocaulon spp: (asbos or ash bush)
Other uses:
These mesembs are used in soap-making.  The plants are burned and the alkali rich ash, hence the name asbos,  is collected to prepare lye for the soap-making.  Soap is still made this way in some rural areas of southern Africa.

The plant is also harvested and used as an asbosskerm (ash bush shelter) or kookskerm (cooking shelter).  The asbosskerms are used to keep unwanted animals and the cold desert wind out of living areas, they are made by simply placing one bush on top of another until it is a little over two meters in height.  Kookskerms are built around the fire.

Crafty crassulas:

Cotyledon orbiculata: (Pig's Ear)
Medicinal uses:
Parts used:    Leaves or leaf juice.

  • Cotyledon orbiculataThe fleshy part of the leaf is applied to warts and corns to soften and remove them.
  • A single leaf is eaten as a vermifuge (expels intestinal worms).
  • The leaf juice is warmed and used as drops for earache and toothache.
  • A hot poultice is used to treat boils, earache or inflammation.
  • The juice has also been used as a treatment for epilepsy.

Internal use of this plant is dangerous and can be potentially lethal.

Dioscorea spp: (Elephants Foot)

Medicinal uses:

Parts Used: Fleshy tubers.

  • The tuber is hollowed out and the water that is heated in it is used for cuts and sores.
  • The Zulu people of South Africa use it as a treatment for hysteria, convulsion and epilepsy.  The Zulu name for the plant is "isidakwa" which means "the drunkard", this refers to the plants possible narcotic effect.
  • It is also used as a topical treatment for scabies.
  • Some Central American, Indian and Chinese species are used in the making of cortisone and contraceptives.

Gethyllis spp: (kukumakranka)
Medicinal Plants:
Parts Used:    Fruits.

  • An alchoholic infusion of the fruit is used in the treatment of colic and indigestion.

Other Uses:

  • The fruits where traditionally used to perrfume linen.

Pelargonium spp
Medicinal Uses:
P. luridum, P. antidysentericum, P.rapaceum, P.reniforme, P.sidoides, P.triste
Parts Used:    Tuberous, fleshy rootstock that is bright red inside.

  • Infusions of the tuber is used to treat dysentry and diarrhoea
  • P. reniforme and P.sidoides are ingredients in the german remedy for bronchitis called "Umckaloabo".  The remedy is mainly used to treat children.


Rhoicissus tridentata: (Wild Grape [Eng], Bobbejaantou [Afr] - Babboon rope)

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used:    Roots or Tuberous rootstock (lignotuber). 

  • The roots and tubers are used for stomach, kidney and bladder complaints as well as dysmennorhoea and infertility.
  • It is adinistered as an enema for delayed menstruation and it is also used to facilitate childbirth.
  • Traditional Zulu uses of this plant suggest that it may have analgesic effects.

Other members of the family Vitaceae, Cissus spp and Cyphostemma spp, are widely used in Africa to relieve pain and other ailments.

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