Zanemvula Traditional Healing 
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Artemisia afra

Artemisia afra                 

Afrikaans  Wilde als    or as I was told Wilde ales “want dit maak amper ales reg”.     

English :  African wormwood  -  because the wormwoods are in the  Artemisia genus.

IsiXhosa :  Umhlonjane  - isiXhosa word for courage

SeSotho  :  Lengana   Sesotho for courage

As  you may notice both the Basotho and  Xhosa call it courage, because you take it for courage.  In the indigenous cultures you have to match the characteristic emotion of the  person with the emotion of the plant.  This emotional match is what brings about the healing.

Courage is the quality we all need in quantity when we need to face letting go what we think we know before we can learn more and new things.  As long as we generalise the little we know and think it can be applied in all cases then we are stuck in our security of generalisation.  

Self doubt is a great destroyer of courage.  

Description and diagnostic features

This plant grows about a metre to two high and has finely feathered grey-green leaves. The leaves are bitter to the taste.  The plant  is covered with small ball shaped flowers from late summer. They are yellow-green.

Part used

      Leaves dry or fresh.


To imbue courage. It is the gall of courage. The Xhosa name umhlonyane means courage.  If you are lacking courage it will help you. As an additive to any cold remedy it is excellent to get things going.  

There is anecdotal evidence in South Africa of the use of “wilde als” for the successful treatment of malaria in people.  The activity of the Artemisia against the malaria plasmodium parasite seems to be its ability to coagulate iron in the vacuole of the plasmodium making it unavailable and thereby inactivating the parasite.

To be active and engaging we need to absorb strength. This plant helps us to absorb and use our foods.  Not only is it a great appetite booster but causes our tissues to absorb the sugars from our blood stream and be ready for action. Because it stimulates sugar absorption from the blood stream it overcomes the fear producing diabetes. Without the sugars oozing from our blood, yeasts like Candida  have no food.

Another way to get the child to go to school quickly is to do the war dance with him . In this kind of chensa  you walk by putting down the ball of you foot hard and then following it up by hitting the ground with  the heel of your foot.  This causes the body to shudder and shake the kidneys.  This shakes out the fear and there he goes full of courageous enthusiasm five minutes later.

My teacher Phillip regarded it as one of the two basic first aid remedies.  If a child claimed to be too sick to go to school, you offered him a cup of tea of this bush.  If he took it and he needed it it would not be bitter.  If he was just trying to avoid school then it would taste terribly bitter and he would rather go to school than drink it. This is another great thing about this herb and many others, is that it is self regulating, as long as you are prepared to taste it rather  than take it in a sugar coated pill or capsule.


    Take it as a tea once or twice a day or more often in acute situations.  

     It tastes bitter  when you no longer need it. Reduce the concentration of the tea as it becomes bitter.

Contra Indications

As the plant seems to have the capacity for coagulating free iron, it would work well with inactivating many parasites, but it would be pointless giving it together with stinging nettle that makes iron available.

The ability of certain people to absorb and concentrate Iron, removing it from the mouth and eyes and other bodily opening surfaces. The very low levels of available Iron seem to have played a major role in survival during the black plague because there was not enough iron for the effective functioning of the parasite enzymes.  (see Survival of the Sickest.)


It grows wild in most of the Eastern Cape and other mountainous highlands as far as North Africa. It likes well drained soil. It also needs fresh soil to migrate to.


It grows well from cuttings if the cuttings are put in the ground in autumn and kept moist. Remove most of the leaves from the cuttings. Do not use cuttings on which there are flowers or fruit.