In health stores everywhere, a wider range of supplements is growing than ever before. Since there are only so many vitamins, enzymes, and minerals out there, that growth is rooted in one place: herbs.
Herbal medicine is very important to many cultures in the world, including those in Africa. In this story we head to South Africa. In that country, modern-day pharmaceuticals are used right alongside herbs. This is owed to a deep history of using plants as medicine — and you just don’t stop believing in them because the Western world started making mainstream drugs.
In that history, African plants have treated cancer, fever, hypertension, asthma, and constipation (among other complaints). A new study has decided to look at the question of high blood pressure (hypertension). A research team studied 16 plants from South Africa long believed to lower blood pressure. They concluded that exactly half of them seem to be able to do just that.
Their results were presented recently in Washington, DC. The study tested each plant’s “ACE inhibitor activity.” That is the name of an entire class of hypertension-fighting drugs. But since most drugs are born out of what we discover in plants, it’s not hard to believe that a herb can be just as effective as a pill.
They ground up dried leaves from each plant. They tested each in three different ways. And they found that the following eight South African plants have ACE inhibitor activity:
1. Amaranthus dubius, aka “spleen amaranth.” 2. Amaranthus hybridus, aka “slim amaranth.” 3. Asystasia gangetica, used more as ornamental ground cover, aka “Chinese violet.” 4. Galinsoga parviflora, aka “gallant soldier.” 5. Justicia flava, aka “yellow justicia,” typically taken for cough and fever. 6. Oxygonum sinuatum, just a garden-variety weed in South Africa. 7. Physalis viscose, aka “starhair ground cherry.” 8. Tulbaghia violacea, aka “wild garlic.”
Of these eight, the biggest standout was definitely number eight, wild garlic. Past studies have also found that it has a promising ability to lower blood pressure. For example, back in the mid-1990s researchers found that wild garlic lowered diastolic blood pressure as soon as five hours later with no side effects.
As hypertension is a major problem in society, it’s only reasonable that we not turn a blind eye to folk medicine. And these eight African plants have successfully shown why.