Zumbane/Umsuzwane

Zumbani (Lippia javanica) is a plant with aromatic leaves and has been used in Africa for generations for its medicinal properties. It is caffeine-free and contains some amounts of vital minerals such as copper, zinc and iron. It contains flavonoids and phenolic compounds which are water-soluble. These compounds possess antioxidant qualities, which are quite significantly higher than in rooibos tea. Also known as Fever tea (or Zumbani, in the local Shona language), the Lemonbush is part of the Verbena family. Its fragrant leaves make a tasty herbal tea, and have long been consumed for their multiple health benefits.[1]

Description

A much branched shrub with erect stem, 1 - 2 m tall, with lance shaped leaves, strongly aromatic when crushed. The whole plant is roughly hairy. [2] The Fever Tea tree is widely distributed throughout Zimbabwe, in all Natural Regions, but common at medium altitudes. It is known to colonise disturbed areas, making it a pioneer plant. It is very hardy and can grow under difficult circumstances, requiring little maintenance. It prefers sunny areas. It can easily be cultivated, from seed or cuttings, by small-scale farming families.[3]

Properties

The Lemonbush, Lippia javanica, a common shrub in East and Southern Africa, has several terpenes and cannabinoids of medicinal benefit. Gus Le Breton, the African Plant Hunter, delves deeper into some of its medicinal compounds: Myrcene (subject of the fabled “Mango Myth”), Linalool (the sedative compound in lavender) and Caryophyllene (a potent anti-inflammatory). Sadly Lemonbush has not yet been put through the regulatory hoops for sale in the West, so if you want to try it, you’ll have to travel to Africa to do so!

  • The plant possesses analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and anti-bacterial activities.
  • Zumbani is caffeine-free and contains some amounts of vital minerals such as copper, zinc and iron.
  • It contains flavonoids and phenolic compounds which are water-soluble. These compounds possess antioxidant qualities, which are quite significantly higher than in rooibos tea.
  • Zumbani tea is exceptionally low in tannin (much lower than rooibos).

Use

The dried leaves are made into a herbal tea, to treat coughs, colds, bronchial problems and to bring down fever, to treat dysentery and diarrhoea, rashes and headaches.
The leaves can also repel insects in wardrobes and cupboards, much like lavender.

Markets

Current formal local demand for dried leaves is small. The opportunity for Zumbani lies in its promotion as a (ice) tea, as herbal teas are fast gaining popularity. Estimated potential demand is around 100 tonnes/year on the local market and 1,000 tonnes/year on the export market.

Covid-19 Treatment Belief

The Zumbani plant, which has a strong balsamic citrus-like scent, is widely believed to treat Covid-19 (Coronavirus) although no confirmed medical assurance has been issued by government medical experts. Some Covid-19 patients are said to have been healed after inhaling the plant’s steam with other users claim it possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. A lot of people in the country are now turning to traditional remedies and medicinal plants in treating Covid-19 patients as there is no scientifically proven treatment for the pandemic in Zimbabwe.[4]

Video

Further Reading

Food Plants of Zimbabwe [2]

Flora of Zimbabwe [[4]]

References

  1. Gus Le Breton, [1], The African Plant Hunter, Published: 19 March, 2019, Accessed: 14 January, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 [Margaret Tredgold, Food Plants of Zimbabwe; with old and new ways of preparation] (Mambo Press, Gweru, 1986) Retrieved 6 January 2021"
  3. [2], Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe, Accessed: 14 January, 2021
  4. [3], New Zimbabwe, Published: 13 January, 2021, Accessed: 14 January, 2021