The Leaders in Natural Traditional

African Medicines



Bulbine is a mostly southern African genus of about 25 species. Most of the bulbines are rather succulent, rosette shaped, stemless or with very short stems. Flowers are characterized by their hairy stamens. Although most species do not have a bulb, the genus name comes from the Greek for bulb.

The bulbines have a clear non-toxic non-bitter gel in the leaves that is an ideal cover up treatment for minor cuts and burns. It is very soothing and protective. To increase its soothing qualities the juice of the sour fig (edulis) can be added to remove any stinging sensation (as from herpes eruptions) in the skin.

Bulbine frutescens can be used in a drink of water before meals to line the intestines and protect them from irritation. They are ideal for blocking up any holes in the intestine lining that allows half digested food particles to enter the bloodstream where they cause allergic reactions and oversensitization. Leaky gut syndrome is known to contribute to allergic reactions has long been treated by Africans with bulbine juice.

The third really useful application for bulbine frutescens juice is as a laxative. It is the only effective totally non-irritant non-toxic substance available.

Traditional uses:

Well known in the Zulu pharmacopoeia, the species is traditionally used as an emetic in the purification rites of men and young adolescents in order to ward off possible antisocial behaviour in the future. As a member of the aloe family, its leaves and roots are also used. The Xhosa people use the tubers to combat urinary problems, dysentery and diarrhoea.

The bulbine natalensis is increasingly being used as a supplement for HIV-Aids. The Afrikaans community of the Eastern Cape is especially fond of this plant and it is widely used in folk medicine.

The plant is also used to alleviate the discomfort associated with lumbago. It is equally effective in the treatment of rheumatism’s and to purify the blood. It is excellent for cuts, burns, inches cracked lips and herpes. The leaves are used directly as a poultice due to its antibacterial properties and the roots are used to make herbal infusions.

The liquid extract when applied directly to an eczema spot, it provides instant relief from the itching. It works equally well on burns, any kind of cut or wound on the skin, stings, bites and cold sores.

Active ingredients:

Stems and roots of the Bulbine species contain anthraquinones such as chrysophanol and knipholone.

Pharmacological effects:

Chrysophanol has antibacterial properties. The healing effect is likely to be due mainly to glycoproteins in the leaf gel, such as Aloctin A and Aloctin B, which have been found in the leaf gel of Aloe arborescens.



Common names: ibhucu (Zulu), rooiwortel (Afrikaans).

Geographical distribution:

Eastern Cape Provinces, Free State, Lesotho, Swaziland, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

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