Travelers find their delight in the continent’s beauty, its wildlife and the smiles that stretch as wide as the horizon. It is quite true that every Safari is underwritten by a sense of glee.

There is a perfect kind of symmetry in the knowledge that many of Africa’s indigenous plants carry the powers of restoration, alleviation, and health within them too. So, if you are making a journey to the dark continent, you should certainly request and try at least one of the following natural medicines Africa offers its visitors.

A note: High quality oils are produced with care through small cooperatives who are assisted in selling their wares to the world. As the popularity of the rare African treatments increase in popularity the source of the product should be checked to ensure fair trading practices.

A funny little plant that is easily mistaken for a weed, the herbal Rooibos belongs to the legume family. Unfermented it has a mild taste and once fermented presents with a sweet taste. It is a prolific tea throughout Africa… with many incredible properties.

1. Anti-aging Properties:

An excellent antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase is a substance that reduces wrinkles and boosts the production of healthy skin cells. High levels of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D and zinc keeps the skin healthy and drinking the tea promotes the shedding of dead skin cells.

2. Relieving Allergies.

They hypoallergenic properties in the tea can alleviate allergies and symptoms of allergies.

3. Prevents Skin Disorders:

The high levels of flavonoid in Rooibos help in preventing skin disorders like eczema and acne. You can either drink Rooibos tea or apply it directly to your skin.

4. Alleviates Bacterial Infections:

Rooibos possesses anti-bacterial properties. These properties help in fighting various bacterial infections on the skin and prevent them from occurring again.

5. Boosts Hair Growth:

Regular consumption of Rooibos tea can increase hair growth. Rooibos is enriched with minerals like zinc, calcium, copper, and potassium that promote hair growth while strengthening hair roots. The high level of copper may also prevent premature greying of hair.

6. Boosts Immune System:

The unique and complex blend of antioxidants in Rooibos will help you maintain your fitness and keep you healthy as it continually boosts your immune system.

7. Prevents Serious Health Risks:

The same antioxidants in Rooibos bind with free radicals present in the body, which help prevent it from oxidizing with cholesterol and clog blood vessels. This prevents cell damage, cancer, heart attack or stroke.

8. Stress Buster:

As a drink, Rooibos is caffeine and calorie free. It will assist in controlling blood pressure, stress and hypertension.

9. It is cheap and easy to find:

Now also an international traveler, Rooibos is easily available globally. (It might be labeled Redbush out of Africa.)

A firm favorite of elephants, the fruit kernels of the Marula tree are known to carry the elixir of youth—an oil that has been used for centuries, with a host of benefits:

1. Anti-aging Properties:

Marula oil will battle every sign of aging. From sun damage to dry skin the oil strengthens the skin’s ability to produce collagen which will address fine lines and wrinkles. A combination of monounsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin C ensures the promotion of elasticity, enhancing the skin’s firmness and smoothing cellulite. It will also diminish the appearance of pigmentation patches and scars over time.

2. Defends Against Environmental Damage:

The oil forms a defensive barrier protecting you against all environmental elements whilst nourishing and conditioning your skin.

3. Prevents Stretch Marks:

The nutrients that retain the skin’s elasticity and suppleness will prevent the appearance of stretch marks.

4. Great for Everyone:

The omega oleic acid and the linoleic acid that is an omega-6 essential fatty acid in Marula oil is an essential nutrient for healthy skin. As Marula oil is extremely absorbent it will not clog pores and is suitable for dry, normal and oily skin. It works well for men’s rough skin and plays an active role in ensuring hormonal changes do not affect skin adversely for women.

5. Keeps Hair And Scalp Healthy:

The powerful nutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids and minerals in Marula oil, that help in reversing and preventing UV and environmental damage, as well as its cellular regeneration, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, make it an excellent oil to use on your scalp. It will boost healthy hair growth.

6. Prevents And Treats Skin Conditions:

Marula oil has a high content of linoleic acid that is an omega-6 essential fatty acid as well as omega oleic acid. It is not only highly effective in treating dry skin, but also in preventing and healing a variety of skin disorders, including psoriasis, eczema, acne, etc. Skin problems can be effectively treated with this gentle and nourishing oil. It is also a great treatment for brittle nails and to help heal dry and chapped lips.

Aloe has long been used to soothe sunburn (in studies it heals burns 9 times faster than conventional medicine) but it is also an effective, natural and chemical free treatment for a variety of other problems like Psoriasis, Cold sores, Frostbite, Dry Skin, Dandruff and is a natural treatment for acne-prone skin.

1. Aloe, The Super Moisturiser:

Aloe will penetrate deeply into the skin to deliver nutrients and moisture while capturing water from the air and trapping them under a protective layer on the surface of your skin.

2. Aloe, Against Ageing: 

With the unique ability to increase the production of fibroblast cells, it is responsible for a rate of collagen production that is 6 to 7 times faster than normal cell production.

3. Aloe, Against Acne:

The saponin in Aloe has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Applied with Retinol A, it helps heal and reduces inflammation in the skin.

4. Aloe, For your Hair:

All those minerals and vitamins, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties also help with dandruff and gel enzymes can rid the scalp of dead cells and promote regeneration of the skin around the follicles.

An oil derived from the fruit of the manketti tree which can grow in extreme weather conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa is super nutritious as well as an incredible emollient and protectant.

It has adequate amounts of vitamins such as nicotinic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, y-tocopherol and vitamin E.

1. Anti-aging Properties:

Mongongo oil has high concentrations of Vitamin E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium copper and zinc which helps stave off skin damage and signs of aging. The oil is also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to remain on the skin longer than saturated fatty acids or monounsaturated oils. These fatty acids deliver a protective, emollient layer on the surface of the skin, act as a barrier to prevent moisture from escaping through the pores, and can retain moisture and keep the skin glowing while smoothing out rough texture and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

2. Calms inflammation:

The linoleic acid is great for calming inflammation and for anyone suffering from redness or eczema of some kind.

3. Sun Protection:

Mongongo oil also contains alpha-Eleostearic acid which adds another layer of sun protection. The oil will create a shield over your skin or hair when it’s hit by UV rays it turns into a protectant.

4. Environmental Protection:

It also possesses eleostearic acid that provides protection from environmental pollutants.

5. Keeps Hair And Scalp Healthy:

All the properties of Mongongo make it perfect for hair care. It contains the nutrients such as copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc which is beneficial for maintaining hair health. Add the sun protection and you have an oil with strong antioxidants, and minerals that fortify the hair and scalp with vitamins, nutrients, fatty acids, and proteins, which are essential for hair growth, health, and vitality. Even people with inflamed scalps or dandruff or those with dry, rough or damaged hair can benefit from Mongongo oil. The oil will not only protect your hair from environmental pollutants and blow drying but will also keep it safe from the sun as well as chemicals you add through treatments, maintaining luster and shine.

This essential oil from a citrus fruit packs quite the punch. It’s health benefits have been attributed to its properties as an antidepressant, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, bactericidal, cordial, carminative, cicatrizant, cytophylactic, disinfectant, antispasmodic, deodorant, digestive, emollient, sedative, and tonic substance.

The chief components of this essential oil are alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, beta-pinene, camphene, farnesol, geraniol, indole, nerol, linalool, linalyl acetate, methyl anthranilate, nerolidol, and neryl acetate. Eau-de-Cologne is traditionally made from neroli and its name is related to its use as a perfume.

1. Anti-bacterial Properties:

Neroli oil is an effective anti-bacterial and will keep your body free from infections and toxins. It also gives considerable relief in skin conditions caused by bacterial infections. 

2. Warming Properties:

A great oil to carry in winter. As an antispasmodic, it gives relief from spasmodic coughs and aches. Its sedative effect also provides relief from anxiety, distress, anger, depression, inflammations, and other irritations. It boosts your immune system and circulation and can be a strong sedative.

3. Skincare:

Neroli oil is used in treatments for fading scars, spots, and marks left behind by acne, boils, and other skin problems. It is cytophilic and promotes the generation of new cells while stimulating the health of those already present.

Ginger might be a perennial herb native to China and India but African Ginger or black ginger is our favorite member of the traveling Ginger family. The spice has a long history in Africa as a treatment for many problems and it occupies an important place in both the medicine cabinet and the kitchen. Ginger root is packed with a host of essential oils such as zingerone, gingerol, farnesene, shogaol and β-phelladren, citral and cineol in small amounts.

1. Medical Uses:

  • It is an antihistamine that inhibits airway contraction which stimulates the secretion of mucus. It also encourages the gallbladder to release bile which stimulates digestion. It has been used to help with congestion and stomach flu for centuries. Ginger is also an effective remedy against all types of nausea.
  • The spice can provides substantial relief from pain caused due to inflammation and even decreases swelling and morning stiffness. It successfully inhibits cyclooxygenase and five-lipoxygenase-enzymes that cause inflammation.
  • All of this can alleviate pain.
  • Ginger can lower the blood glucose levels in the body and has been found to be effective in reducing the incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage).
  • Ginger can calm an upset stomach, thanks to its carminative (gas expulsion) property. It improves the intestinal motility and so, provides relief from bloating and gas and helps reduce flatulence. It is also a natural remedy for the treatment of heartburn.
  • It also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure due to all the antioxidant properties of the essential oils
  • Ginger can strengthen your immunity.

2. Anti Ageing:

Ginger contains around 40 antioxidant compounds that protect against aging. It removes the toxins and stimulates the circulation, resulting in the delivery of more nutrients to the skin. The antioxidants prevent damage from the free radicals, thus preserving the youthful appearance of the skin.

3. Soothes Burns:

Applying fresh ginger juice can relieve the pain and heal burnt skin.

4. Clears Blemishes And Acne:

Being a powerful antiseptic and cleansing agent, ginger helps in keeping the skin clean, smooth and free of blemishes. Besides, it also invigorates and stimulates your skin. It is also the best natural acne-fighting weapon as it minimizes the rate of acne formation and eruption by killing and clearing the acne-causing bacteria.

5. Treatment Of Hypopigmented Scars (White Scars):

Hypopigmented scars occur when the skin loses its pigmentation, and are generally white or much lighter than the actual skin tone. Ginger can reduce the appearance of hypopigmented skin to a significant extent. All you need to do is cut a sliver of fresh ginger and dab it on the hypopigmented areas and leave it for some time. You will see a slight improvement within a week or two. However, this should be done every day without fail for noticeable results.

6. Tones Skin:

Ginger is known for its antioxidant and toning properties, which contribute to radiant skin. You can prepare a simple mask by mixing two grated gingers with two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Refrigerate the mix for at least 30 minutes. Apply it on your face and rinse with cool water after 30 minutes. This will nourish and soften your skin and prevent aging.

7. Benefits For Hair:

Ginger increases the scalp circulation, resulting in the flow of blood to the scalp by stimulating the hair follicles and encouraging growth. The fatty acids present in ginger are beneficial for thin hair. The vitamins, zinc, and phosphorus in the spice are great for dry and brittle hair. It will also combat dandruff.

Images by Cari Corbet-OwenFlore de PréneufThought Catalog