Africa is the very last place on Earth where there is still hope of discovering unknown medicinal plants. So it was to Africa that I turned my attention when looking to research and develop new herbal remedies. I’ll tell you more about two important discoveries that came out of my Africa research in a moment, but first, let’s back up…
Until the turn of the 20th century, western scientists knew more about the geography of the moon than they did about the geography of Central Africa. Until that time, western contact with Africa occurred only on the coastal areas where African and Muslim traders conducted business.
If you traveled to Africa before the turn of the 20th century, you could still see stone crosses at the mouths of major rivers that Portuguese explorers had planted during the 16th century. Some archaeologists say you could also find stones left behind by Chinese treasure fleets that had circumnavigated the globe during the 15th century.
Western science knew much more about medicinal plants from other parts of the globe. For example, ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine incorporate herbal remedies that date back thousands of years and are recorded in written classics. European settlers of the Americas quickly incorporated Native American remedies into their herbal medicine in the 18th century. And of course, traditional European folk remedies, which date back to ancient Rome and Greece (and Persia and Egypt), played a central role in European medicine until the 20th century. Today, in more enlightened countries such as Germany, the government health agencies even acknowledge and approve these folk remedies under “historic use.”
Kalahari bushmen introduce me to truly remarkable plant
Soon after I completed my overseas field research following graduate school, I realized that Africa was the last great refuge of unknown herbal remedies. So it was to that continent that I then turned my attention to research and develop new herbal remedies.
In fact, during my travels, I came across a little-known, truly remarkable plant called South African red bush (Aspalathus linearis).
I call it aspal.
I observed that bushmen of the Kalahari Desert had used aspal to stay hydrated in the hottest, driest place on Earth. (This area of Africa also remained unknown to the West until Cecil Rhodes company established a presence there in the 1890s.)
During my research into this South African plant, I observed that men and women who drank beverages with aspal looked fit and spry well into old age. Plus, they had enormous energy at all ages. And I became convinced that aspal works by promoting hydration at the cellular level.
Then, about 10 years ago, a colleague and I decided to develop “test” forms of aspal, which you can add to drinking water at room temperature. We approached several college football teams, professional football teams, and professional baseball teams about staying hydrated with aspal. We encouraged coaches and trainers to give the aspal samples to their athletes to see if it helped boost performance.
And boy, did it ever.
All the teams experienced tremendous success after their athletes starting drinking beverages made with aspal. Unfortunately, these top performing athletes can’t talk about aspal due to business contracts between their organizations and sports beverages manufacturers.
But you can learn the whole story about the benefits of aspal in my special report The Miracle at Red Bush. (If you’re a subscriber to my Insiders’ Cures newsletter, you can access this special report for free by logging onto my website www.drmicozzi.com with your username and password. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.)
South Africa introduces me to another important medical plant
Another important, recent discovery — an herb called Sutherlandia frutescens — came out of South Africa. Sutherlandia is actually a highly versatile plant called an adaptogen, which means it helps your body “adapt” to changes. For example, if you’re cold, an adaptogen helps you warm up. If you need rest, an adaptogen helps you sleep. Or if you need energy, it helps pep you up.
According to Zulu Legend, Sutherlandia frutescens helped tribesmen — armed only with shields and spears — beat back a modern Royal British Army in the late 19th century. Plus, Sutherlandia frutescens was the only treatment observed to help patients during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919 after WW I.
I recently reconnected with Mike Hurley — an old friend and colleague of mine — to work on an exciting project involving aspal and Sutherlandia frutescens.
Like me, Mike is an anthropologist. He also has a passion for natural medicine and sees beyond the boundaries of mainstream medical thinking. Mike helped me organize the first conferences on complementary, alternative and natural medicine in during the1990s.
Mike now leads the Bonobo Conservation project in the Congo. Bonobos are endangered “great apes” that live in one of the most remote areas of Central Africa. The bonobo is only the fourth species of “great apes” ever found. And we knew very little about them, until recently. In fact, as anthropology graduate students in the 1980s, our universities didn’t even teach about this important species.
Mike and I recently designed a project to provide natural hydration products to the “trackers” who go deep into the Congo to explore the habitat of the bonobos. Aspal and Sutherlandia will help the trackers stay hydrated and energized on their grueling treks through equatorial Africa.
The trackers will also surely encounter indigenous peoples, from whom they hope to learn about undiscovered medicinal plants that may hold more promise for modern healthcare.
Hopefully, aspal and Sutherlandia will help the bonobo trackers get farther on their journey, so that they can bring back exciting new discoveries. I’ll be sure to share these discoveries with you right here in the Daily Dispatch.
In the meantime, tomorrow, I’ll tell you about one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made recently — right here at home.