Zanemvula Traditional Healing 
Zanemvula,  2 Wherry rd, Muizenberg.  Cell 0825554162 
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Withanea somnifera

Withanea somnifera

Afrikaans:  Wilde apeliefie

English : Winter cherry

IsiXhosa:  Ubuvumba

Indian:  Ashwaganda

Description and diagnostic features   

   This bush grows up to two metres high. It makes furry leaves. The most characteristic feature are the little red berries in a white cape. Just like the cape gooseberry but miniature. The little birds love the berries and can be seen feasting in the late afternoons.

Part used

The leaves and root bark.


  1. The leaves are used as a poultice to put on wounds as it helps rapid recovery.  
  2. The roots have a yellow orange colour and have a strong smell. They have an adaptogenic effect. In other words it causes the body to use its resources in stead of thinking it is running out of food and going into starvation mode. This gets the body out of crisis and into action.
  3. It is great for colds and flue that have to do with self doubt. Your body realizes it has reserves and activates them. This means that it can work longer, harder and leaner.
  4. Great for reducing the panic appetite and reducing weight.
  5. As a stimulant it is a good idea to take in the morning when you want to be awake.
  6. It is one of the most popular ingredients in all the adaptogens used in food supplements for the elderly.



It is widely distributed in southern Africa and into India where it is known as ashwaganda and considered an adaptogenic. Because it is frost sensitive you will always see it growing higher up on hills among the big rocky outcrops where the heat given off by the rocks prevent freezing temperatures.


It grows easily from seed that has been in leaf litter for a while. It grows in frost protected areas. In some parts of S Africa it was considered a weed until heavy use reduced its numbers drastically.