"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Cancer Bush - Sunderlandia frutescens

Do you just love it when locals share their knowledge?  Our building contractor arrived one afternoon to collect his workers, and whilst he was waiting for them to pack up, we took a walk around the back of our property, near our lemon orchard.

Suddenly, pointing at a rather nondescript looking plant, he asked, "Do you know what that is?"
Cancer Bush - Sunderlandia frutescens
 And, just as naturally, I replied, "No" LOL

"It's called the Cancer Bush".

Of course, I had to Google it - didn't I? ;)

And, verbatim (with source links), this is what I found...

Cancer Bush - A Plant You Should Know About

Cancer Bush (Sutherlandia frutescens) is a legume from southern Africa with a long history of medicinal use. It is a fast growing but short lived shrublet that does well in full sun and has a high tolerance for all kinds of soil types. Draught tolerant, it is native to a warm arid climate thus it is not entirely frost tolerant so should be taken indoors if temperatures fall below freezing.

Historically this plant has been used as a salve for wounds as well as a fever reducer. It has been known to treat chicken pox, stomach problems, as well as certain ailments of the eyes. There are many other purported ailments which Sutherlandia frutescens is reported to address. It has been used to treat colds, flu, asthma, tuberculosis, bronchitis, rheumatism, arthritis, liver problems, hemorrhoids, piles, bladder problems, uterine problems, Chronic Fatigues Syndrome, ME Syndrome, dysentery, stomach ailments, viral hepatitis, heartburn, type 2 diabetes, peptic ulcers, backache, diabetes, varicose veins and inflammation, mental and emotional stress, irritability, anxiety, hypertension and depression.

This plant has recently increased in importance because of its reputation as a cure for cancer as well as an immune system booster. Although there is no hard evidence that this plant can cure all cancers, there is clinical evidence that it does have direct cancer fighting properties and does improve immune system function. It is currently being used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS because of its immune system benefits, and is known to be an appetite stimulant which is important for the support of both cancer and HIV/AIDS.

  • The entirety of the above ground plant can be dried and ground to make tea.
  • The whole fruit may be eaten.
  • It can be pressed or encapsulated and taken as a supplement.
  • Sutherlandia frutescens treatment may interfere with pharmaceutical anti-retroviral drugs.
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid taking Sutherlandia frutescens as there is little scientific study of the in utero effects or effects on children, though traditionally it has been used by pregnant women in Africa with no known negative effects.
  • Sutherlandia frutescens has been reported to cause dry mouth, mild diarrhea, slight dizziness and constipation.
  • Thus far there is no known lethal dose.
For further research, please visit http://www.sutherlandia.org
Whenever you are considering any dietary or medicinal change, please consult your doctor or nutritionist to discuss what is the best course of action for you and your health goals.  As well, make sure to check several sources before making a decision on what supplements you want to take for any particular reason.
 (NaturalNews) Sutherlandia frutescens, or Cancer Bush, is an attractive legume with delicate red flowers pictured on the South African national postage stamp. Long used by indigenous people in South Africa to treat cancer, tuberculosis, flu, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS, researchers have recently done successful trials with this medicinal plant. Sutherlandia is known for its adaptogenic properties, its calming effect, and its ability to assist with weight gain when given to wasting patients. No toxicity or side effect has been noted.

Growing wild in the Western Cape and in the hills of Zululand, Sutherlandia assists the body in combating disease. Many cultures in South Africa have given this plant names that recognize its life changing properties. The San people, who use it as an energy booster and anti-depressant, call it "insista" meaning the one that dispels darkness. Zulu traditional healers, who used it during the 1918 influenza pandemic, named it "Unwele" (hair) because it relieves distress that causes sufferers to pull out their hair. Another South African group familiar with the use of Sutherlandia is the Tswana who call it "Mukakana" and know its effectiveness with gonorrhoea and syphilis. Afrikaners call it "Kankerbossie" (cancer bush). Another name is "the spear for the blood" meaning a powerful blood purifier.

An article published in a Cape Town newspaper on September 5, 2001 titled, "Time to look to our heritage for AIDS cure" suggested that "cancer bush is the most profound tonic that Africa can offer AIDS sufferers." The article reported that a traditional healer named Credo Mutwa administered sutherlandia to a terminal AIDS patient, a dying woman who thereafter gained weight. Mutwa noted that sutherlandia contained canavanine and pinitol, both of which had been patented individually in the USA, but were a unique combination in the cancer bush. Since sutherlandia grew wild everywhere, it not only presented an affordable treatment option, but offered the potential for commerce and local job creation. In addition, Mutwa urged, Africans needed sufficient nutrition which they formerly obtained from food crops such as millet once known as Umaimbela Ukugula, or "The one that stops sickness."

Ethno-botanist and Zululand University Research Fellow Anne Hutchings has used Sutherlandia as well as other herbs to treat patients weekly at Ngwelezana Hospital's AIDS clinic in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and has 176 patients who claim Sutherlandia helped them. Health care workers report that Sutherlandia only works when taken in appropriate doses, and when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, avoiding alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs or anything that would damage the immune system. Importantly, while evidence indicates Sutherlandia has an anticancer effect, and stimulates the immune system, the plant should be seen as a 'quality of life tonic' rather than a cancer cure.

Tests show that the use of Sutherlandia improves appetite and weight gain, enhances sleep and exercise tolerance, reduces anxiety and creates an overall sense of well-being. In six weeks of treatment, wasted patients often show a weight gain of 10-15 kg. However, when taken by those who do not have an underlying condition, Sutherlandia does not cause weight gain.

It is recommended that Sutherlandia be used in consultation with a health care professional such as a nutritionist. Patients should have a holistic team consisting of a psychologist, a traditional healer or a spiritual guide, in addition to a health care professional, as support for the emotional, cultural or spiritual aspects of illness.

The flower of the Cancer Bush -
Sunderlandia frutescens - 
although quite small,
is stunning.
Hmmm - very, very interesting.  As I don't need to gain weight, nor, thankfully, do I have Aids, Cancer,  gonorrhoea and syphilis, I reckon that this is another bit of knowledge to file away :)  But - I won't forget it...


  1. This is a new discovery and should be taken as an option by alternative cancer treatment center, Battling cancer will always be just that--a battle. Because it is the number one cause of death, it instills a lot of fear into the patient and patient's family. Start by understanding and implementing.give them option like this, keep up the posts!

  2. NormanFor8 - Welcome and thank you for taking the time to comment.

    Yeah, reckon that the more one knows about what grows around us, the better off mankind will be. Recapturing the knowledge of the old ones, so to speak. I also believe that the more informed one is, the greater the possibility of making sound choices, whatever they may be.

  3. This was a great post. I'm all for natural ways of dealing with our health. We take herbs, vitamins, use essential oils, use massage therapy too.

    It's nice that you have this shrub growing on your property. It was very nice of the building contractor to point it out to you and tell you what it is.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. FlowerLady - Yeah, t'was nice of our builder. But I am finding out that is the nature of those who live in the country.

      All this kind of info that those from years gone by knew about - I have to try and capture it, and publish it, to keep it alive in today's times.

  4. Sounds like some kind of cure all super plant or something. I wonder though.

  5. FCH - I think a lot of the cures are "indigenous" ones. But - there must be substance to the claims...?

  6. Wow, you know, honestly that sounds like a plant that would be handy to have around always. "Just in case" as they say. In case things go bad and access to a pharmacy is limited. I'd like to have it growing on our farm. I wonder if seeds are available somewhere? I'll have to google it too and see what we can find out. How fascinating. Thanks for sharing the knowledge that was shared with you. Isn't the world awesome? :-)

    1. 1st Man - Definitely a "just in case" plant LOL I'm sure that seeds must be available online.

      Yeah, the world is "awesome" - and so is the Net :)

  7. Very interesting. I have to say that for many, many things, Dan and I have had better success with herbal cures than pharmaceuticals. If I had a need, I would definitely tincture that herb and give it a try. In fact, you could tincture some just in case.

  8. Leigh - I'll have to check your blog to see if you have instructions for making a tincture :)

  9. Dani,
    Thanks so much for sharing this very interesting piece of information. This is not only a lovely plant, but I always like hearing about the medicinal uses of things around the world.

    1. Jane - You're very welcome. I love sharing info which I hope others will find helpful - you never know when something like this may come in handy... :)

  10. Credo Mutwa has always maintained the use of this miraculous plant. There are people who were terribly sick, but got better in weeks of its prescription...and many AIDS patients. Perhaps Almighty always has solutions and science can only tap into them to make problems solvable

    1. Stephen - Welcome :)

      The good Lord is certainly is a master craftsman, and we know just a fraction of what He has provided for us.

  11. From where in South Africa can I order this plant?

    1. Stefani - Welcome.

      This plant grows wild here so I'm not sure you'll find it for sale. If you'd like I have a few seeds which I can send you if you are in South Africa. You'll have to investigate growing it from seed though. If you'd like some seeds please e-mail me your address.

  12. I recently bought one from my local nursery. Had never heard of it before. So yes, it definitely is for sale.

    1. Good to known, Unknown - thanks for letting us all know.


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