Lion’s Tail (Kuang Ye De Da Jia)
Botanical Name: Leonotis leonurus
Lion’s tail is known for its medicinal and mild psychoactive properties. It has traditionally been used by South Africans, the Chinese, and the Vietnamese for its euphoric effects. Medicinally, it has been used to treat tuberculosis, jaundice, high blood pressure, diabetes, and snake bites. The plant is native to South Africa where the juice of the stem is used as an infusion to purify the blood. The dried leaves and flowers have a mild calming effect when smoked. It is considered far less potent than Cannabis, and is not classified as a hallucinogenic. Do not confuse lion’s tail with motherwort, another plant that is sometimes commonly called lion’s tail.
Below is an overview of Lion’s Tail (Kuang Ye De Da Jia), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Lion’s Tail (Kuang Ye De Da Jia).
Western Name: Lion’s Tail
Also Known As: Wild Dagga, Lion’s Ear, Phlomis leonurus, Hottentot Tobacco, Wild Hemp
Organs/Systems: Nervous System, Respiratory System, Skin
Key Actions: Antioxidant, Hypotensive, Stimulant, Relaxant, Cardioprotective, Anti-inflammatory, Hypoglycemic, Antiviral, Emetic, Analgesic, Antihistamine, Antidiabetic
Medicinal Uses: Tuberculosis, jaundice, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, diabetes, viral hepatitis, dysentery, diarrhea, snakebites, bee and scorpion stings, boils, itching skin, hemorrhoids, fever, influenza, asthma, coughs, epilepsy, partial paralysis, irregular or painful menstruation, type-2 diabetes, arthritis.
Pin Yin: Kuang Ye De Da Jia
Also Known As: Wild Dagga
Meridians: Spleen, Liver, Lung
Key Actions: Tonifies Spleen, Clears Wind Heat, Calms Shen, Promotes Circulation of Qi, Stops Itching
Medicinal Uses: Muscle cramping, anxiety, lethargy, hemorrhoids, fevers, cold, neuropathy, epilepsy, arthritis, high blood pressure, snake bites, eczema.
Lion’s tail is a semi-evergreen, erect perennial shrub with beautiful orange flowers, that are thought to resemble a lion’s tail. It is a member of the mint Lamiaceae family. There are varieties that display white or yellow blooms. The plant blooms in late spring and into the fall. The flowers are tubular two-lipped fuzzy flowers that appear in tiered whorls around the top half of the long straight stems they grow on. The plant’s leaves are dark green and lance-shaped. The plant can grow to be 4 to 6 feet tall.
Lion’s tail is native to the damp grasslands of South Africa, but now grows in many parts of the world where it is often classified as an invasive weed. It likes mild climates and can grow as an annual in regions with cold winters. It prefers warm and dry climates.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Root, Bark, Flowers
Flavors/Temps: Acrid, Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Warming and Cooling
Caution: Generally considered safe, it can cause nausea, headaches, or dizziness in some people. Not recommended if you are pregnant.
History/Folklore: When brewed as a tea, the leaves and flowers are used to treat respiratory infections, fevers, headaches, high blood pressure, hepatitis, and liver stagnation. Externally the tea can be used to relieve pain and itching and as a compress for acne, eczema, snake bites, and scorpion stings.
The main psychoactive compound is said to be leonurine, however there are reports that this compound has yet to be found in this plant using chemical analysis. The name wild dagga, relates to the indigenous South African tribal name for Cannabis dagga, however, no part of the plant is hallucinogenic. Similar to other members of the mint family, it contains marrublin, a compound known for its antioxidant and cardioprotective properties. This compound significantly improves myocardial function.
In one study conducted to explore the plants anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties it was found that lion’s tail contains properties that helped managed pain, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions, including type-2 diabetes.
Other traditional African remedies using lion’s tail include treating asthma, and depending on the dose, to stimulate or suppress menstruation. The leaves and roots are used to make an extract or tea used for treating high blood pressure, colds, snake bites, bronchitis, and externally to treat eczema.
The dried leaves and flowers have a mild calming effect when smoked or chewed. It is considered far less potent than Cannabis, but is not classified as a hallucinogenic. The plant has traditionally been used by tribal peoples of South Africa at ceremonial occasions to induce trance-like states along with drumming and dancing. Recreational users have reported that smoking the herb can cause nausea, dizziness, sweating, lightheadedness, mild euphoria, visual changes, and sedation. It has been used as an alternative to tobacco and illegal psychoactive plants such as Cannabis. It provides a short-lasting positive feeling. The resin from the flowers and leaves can also be rubbed off and smoked alone or with other herbs.
It was known in Africa, that the Hottentot tribe and the Bushmen smoked the buds and dried leaves, giving rise to one of the plant’s common names, Hottentot Tobacco.
The family Leonurus contains several varieties of plants that while in the same family, have different properties and should not be confused:
- Loenotis leonurus: Lion’s tail (aka Wild Dagga) is a perennial plant used as a medicine and for its calming and euphoric properties.
- Leonurus sibericus: Siberian Motherwort (aka Marihuanilla (or Little Marijuana) (motherwort) this strain is often sold on “legal high” websites, even though it is low in leonurine compounds. It is commonly used in Oriental medicine for treating infections, and circulatory issues.
- Leonotis nepetifolia: Lion’s Ear (aka Klop Dagga) is a strain of wild dagga that is an annual often confused with lion’s tail. This plants leaves are much wider and heart shaped. This strain is said to contain more of the compound leonurine than any other strain of wild dagga, but research has not as yet confirmed this.
- Leonurus artemisia: (Chinese Motherwort) this plant is considered to be the true motherwort (not L. sibericus).
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Lion’s tail is a member of the mint family of plants. It is native to South Africa.
Cup of Tea
Taken as a tea, lion’s tail is used to treat colds and fevers. Used as a wash it helps ease the itching associated with skin rashes such as eczema.
Dried and Smoked
Lion’s tail is known to provide mild feelings of euphoria when either the buds or dried leaves are smoked. Some cultures have used it as a substitute for marijuana, though its effects are notably milder and more short-lived.
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