Africa – Unquestionably the Wildest Continent

Africa… there I was on the edge of the wildest spot in Tanzania, on the wildest continent left on Earth.

To stand there on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater beside the Serengeti Plain… somehow, the wind, the sun, the sky, the clouds… they are unique. Only in Africa.

I’ve never seen greens look greener, yellows look more yellow. The colors are different.

I’ve been to the source of history’s most famous river, the Nile, taken a hike in the volcanic Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, and visited some of the most vibrant and stunning gardens in the world in Entebbe, Uganda.

I have so many stories about Africa. And so many things I found that I want to bring back to you. I’m going to be incorporating them into my practice, and I want to share it with you.

Some are unique because you can only find them in Africa. But some are unique in a different way. They are unique in their power to heal, because there is nothing else like them in the world. Yet you can find them in almost every place on Earth.

And everywhere you find one of these unique healers, the people there, no matter who they are or where they originated, have discovered the same benefits. Whether you’re on the plains of Africa or the forests of North America.

I’ll give you an example…

There’s a plant that’s one of the oldest known medicinal plants in the world. A flower, really, that originated in a place where some of the earliest humans lived.

It’s been used as a traditional remedy for colds, fever, stomach cramps and pain, and it can treat skin irritations and stop bleeding.

They found it along with a few other herbs in a grave in Iraq that scientists think may be 50,000 years old. Achilles is said to have used it to soothe and heal his wounded soldiers.

Some of the African tribes than can trace their lineage back for tens of thousands of years used it in place of hops to make a more intoxicating kind of beer.

When the British and Europeans came to the “new world” here in America, they found it already growing wild. The Micmac Indians drank it with warm milk to treat upper respiratory infections.

The plant I’m talking about is yarrow.
It’s a beautiful little plant that looks white from far off, but when you get up close, you see that each little pale flower looks like a mini-daisy. And inside it’s like nature’s pharmacy.

Yarrow, or milfoil, relieves digestive problems and excessive bleeding, stops pain from inflammation and cramps, lessens flu and cold symptoms, and reduces swelling.

When you take it internally it increases perspiration, so it works well for reducing fevers and easing colds. You can even use it as a mouthwash to ease gum inflammation.

A brand-new study found yarrow also relieves anxiety. Mice given yarrow extract were noticeably calmer and showed much less anxiety after taking it. Researchers even found that unlike some herbs where you have to give more and more to get the same effect, yarrow had the same benefit throughout the study.

As a pain reliever, yarrow works in two ways. First, it has salicylic acid, which you might know as the basis for aspirin. But it also has a unique pain fighter that’s just as good as ibuprofen.1 It’s called chamazulene.

Chamazulene reduces COX-2, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain.

And like many of the healing plants I learned about in Africa, yarrow also has components that kill off cancer. One of these is called achillinin A. When researchers tested this compound for its anti-cancer properties, they were able to wipe out several different kinds of lung cancer cells.2

Yarrow FlowerYarrow is a pretty flower, and inside the plant is nature’s little pharmacy.

Yarrow extracts are also anti-tumor. It has a mix of compounds that studies have shown can inhibit the growth of tumor cells.3

Yarrow is especially helpful for women. It can relieve irregular periods, menstrual pain, nausea and excessive bleeding.

You can use the essential oil as aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and insomnia. But do not use any essential oil internally, and do not use yarrow if you are pregnant. When you distill yarrow into an essential oil, the process produces azulene, which isn’t in the herb itself. It’s what gives the oil its bluish color.

If you want to take yarrow internally you can make a tea, take capsules or get a tincture. An herbal tincture will usually come in a small bottle with a dropper. Take 6-12 drops in your favorite liquid. It’s antifungal, a strong anti-inflammatory, it stops bleeding and promotes wound healing.

That’s why I sometimes keep a spray bottle of the tincture on me when I’m working in my yard. It’s great for cuts and to stop bleeding, and it’s also a pretty effective bug repellant.

If you want to take yarrow as a capsule, you’ll mostly find it in 300 mg doses. You can start with 1 capsule in the morning and at night.

Most people enjoy yarrow the most as a tea. You can get yarrow tea in pre-packaged tea bags, but it’s easy to make a yarrow infusion. Just add a few of the dried leaves, flowers and stems to a cup of boiling water. Leave it to infuse for about 15 minutes, then drink it warm. Up to 3 cups a day.

It can be slightly bitter unless you add lemon or honey. I like to use a few peppermint leaves, and you can also try some stevia.

1. Watkins F, Pendry B, Corcoran O, Sanchez-Medina A. “Anglo-Saxon pharmacopoeia revisited: a potential treasure in drug discovery.” Drug Discov Today. 2011 Dec;16(23-24):1069-75.
2. Li Y, Zhang M, Cong B, Wang S, Dong M, Sauriol F, Huo CH, Shi Q, Gu Y, Kiyota H. “Achillinin A, a cytotoxic guaianolide from the flower of Yarrow, Achillea millefolium.” Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2011;75(8):1554-6.
3. Csupor-Löffler B, et. al. “Antiproliferative effect of flavonoids and sesquiterpenoids from Achillea millefolium s.l. on cultured human tumour cell lines.” Phytother Res. 2009 May;23(5):672-6.