African Sage (Tarchonanthus Camphoratus) has long been acknowledged by the native peoples in the areas to which it is indigenous, as a valuable plant of multiple medicinal and spiritual properties. It grows wildly as a shrub or small tree in the Rift Valley region of Kenya and in parts of Southern Africa. It is known by different names from region to region, but internationally it is increasingly gaining recognition by its Maasai name – Leleshwa.
Leleshwa leaves are effectively used to relieve sore feet and legs before, during and after long journeys. In Southern Africa, a hot poultice of leaves is placed on the chest to alleviate respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis. Apart from these obviously analgesic effects, it is also used for bedding to promote restful sleep by repelling both bad dreams and bed bugs, and inducing a state of deep relaxation. Even some African savannah animals are hip to this as many of them have been observed rubbing themselves on leleshwa shrubs to get rid of ticks and other insects. Warriors of various ethnicities have also been known to brush one another down with leleshwa leaves to promote courage and increase tolerance to pain.
This plant of many purposes is finally being introduced to the rest of the world in the form of an essential oil, which also has the same effects, as mentioned above, on the emotional and spiritual bodies that Africans have long experienced. Research has demonstrated that leleshwa essential oil has antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and detergent properties. Experiments have shown it to be several times quicker and more potent than tea tree oil in killing germs. It drastically reduces the discomfort of dandruff, psoriasis, fungal diseases and acne. It also is a great insect repellant. This newer essential oil shows great promise as a preservative in emulsions (like lotions and liquid soaps) that until previously could only be effectively preserved on the shelf by synthetic, chemical preservatives. The ability to substitute leleshwa oil for ingredients like parabens and PEG’s would be a huge milestone in the field of natural personal care products.
The harvesting of Leleshwa leaves and its subsequent distillation to the essential oil represents a whole new stream of income for the local people populating the areas in which the shrub grows wild. What was once considered a weed on some ranches is now a viable economic venture. Purchasing leleshwa oil not only improves your personal wellbeing and the cleanliness of your surroundings, it helps to generate money for low income rural families in exchange for the healing benefits of the African Sage bush.
Leleshwa Oil can be purchased from the Essential Oil University at http://www.essentialoils.org or 812-945-5000, from which much of the information for this article was gathered.