Native to South Africa, Lion’s tail is an upright perennial bush with spikes of brilliant orange flowers. The nomadic KhoiSan tribe of Africa have used this plant traditionally both as a stimulant and inebriant for social occasions and as a medicine for all kinds of illnesses.
The leaves and flowers are traditionally smoked or chewed on ceremonial occasions, to induce trance-like states along with drumming and dancing. The roots were also brewed as a tea for these occasions. Lion’s tail is now a popular smoking alternative to tobacco or cannabis, giving a mild euphoric and uplifting effect.
The leaves and flowers are also brewed as a tea for medicinal uses including - upper respiratory infection, fever, headache, high blood pressure, hepatitis, muscle cramps and liver stagnation. The main active constituent leonurine has both antioxidant and cardioprotective properties.
Externally the tea, decoction, or diluted tincture can be used as a healing, pain-relieving and anti-itch wash or compress for skin conditions such as acne and eczema. It is also used as a poultice or compress for snake bites and stings.
Lion’s Tail is best smoked with other people for the lively conviviality (laughter and loudness) that it brings. The root tea is also favoured for the hypnotic-like focus it give to fire light or, as some have found, television viewing! With its beautiful orange lion’s tail-like flowers, is now seen in many Australian suburban gardens and is more potent when grown in the dry tropics. Lion’s tail is a positive alternative to cannabis as a safe, uplifting and stimulating legal garden herbal high.