The use of herbs for medicine dates back to time immemorial. Modern medicine has found ways to extract, distil and even synthesise some of the properties of plant-based medicine to provide the modern medication we know today. There’s still a big business opportunity, especially given the turn of events over the last 12 months. There are good opportunities in growing herbs for medicinal purposes and here are 5 great ones to consider.
Might as well start right here given the fear around colds and coronavirus pandemic. Zumbani scientific name Lippia javanica and also traditionally known as Umsuzwane in Ndebele and Fever-Tree in English is a powerful fighter of colds and flu symptoms with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It grows from a shrub that has a short harvest window between March and May annually. It boasts a large export market potential as the dried leaves can be used to make herbal tea. It is also very useful in fighting ailments like dysentery and diarrhoea.
Moringa is a powerful herb that grows as a tree shrub and has deep roots in traditional medicine locally and abroad. It boasts among its components Alkaloids and flavonoids, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifertility and anticancer agents. Moringa grows very well in the Zimbabwean climate though it is hard to germinate from seeds. It has a huge export market potential and the leaves can be processed into tea and capsules.
Ergynium is a group name for flowering plants that contains around 250 species. While some are grown for ornamental purposes many have been grown and used for medicinal purposes. Eryngium Campestre is used as a folk medicine in Turkey. In Iran Eryngium is used as herbal tea to lower blood sugar. Eryngium creticum is a herbal remedy for scorpion stings in Jordan. Eryngium elegans is used in Argentina and Eryngium foetidum in Latin America and South-East Asia. Native American peoples used many species for varied purposes. Cultures worldwide have used Eryngium extracts as anti-inflammatory agents. Eryngium yields an essential oil and contains many kinds of terpenoids, saponins, flavonoids, coumarins, and steroids. It has a high international demand for these reasons.
Berkheya echinacea is a slender perennial herb up to 140 cm tall, growing from a woody rootstock. The plant is an established and celebrated cold and flu symptom fighter. Though not indigenous to Southern Africa it grows very well all across the region. It is found in many cold and flu remedies in traditional and modern medicine. The entirety of the plant is used for medicinal purposes so it is a very high yielding crop.
Solanum incanum is a species of nightshade that is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, eastwards to India. Common names include thorn apple, bitter apple, bitter ball and bitter tomato. In Shona, it is known Nhundurwa and has been used to treat many skin ailments including Rash, ringworm, skin infections and warts. It is rich in Saponins; antibacterial, cytotoxicity, antioxidant and cytoprotective elements.
The world of medicinal herbs is large and wonderful. These 5 represent some great opportunities to get into the business of growing and even processing some of these herbs to sell to ultimate consumers.