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Impepho (Kooigoed)

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Family: Asteraceae

Scientific name: Helichrysum species

Common names: impepho (Zulu), incense (English), kooigoed (Afrikaans)

What is impepho?

Impepho is a Zulu name for the herb belonging to the Helichrysum genus. The genus name Helichrysum is derived from two Greek words, “helios” meaning sun and “chrysos” meaning gold, referring to the herb’s golden yellow flowers. The herb is indigenous to Southern Africa and recognises as sacred. There are different types of impepho that are used for different medicinal and spiritual purposes. The names include: Impepho emnyama, Impepho emhlophe, Impepho yezangoma, Impepho yamawele, Impepho yamakholwa, Impepho yamaRoma, Impepho yezulu, and Impepho enkulu.

Medicinal properties

The herb reportedly has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic activities.


Impepho is used for medicinal and spiritual purposes. It is used to treat various conditions, ailments, and diseases such colds, coughs, fever, headaches, kidney and liver problems, toothache, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV.

  • It is used to treat bed-wetting in children
  • It is burned to invoke the goodwill of the ancestors
  • It is taken to induce a trance
  • It is used as a mild sedative
  • It is used to stop persistent nose bleeds, known as umangozima in Zulu

Administration methods

The treatments for the abovementioned conditions, ailments, and diseases can be administered as tea, oil, soap and gel, candles, smudge stick, enema, steam, and emetic.

  • Tea – is made by infusing dried leaves, flowers, and stems in hot water and or milk. Drinking impepho tea helps clear your dreams. It eases stress and promotes relaxation. It also helps with catarrh, colds, coughs, fever, headaches, menstrual cramps, insomnia, and nervousness.
  • Oil – is distilled from the Helichrysum plant. It is used as ointment to treat various skin conditions.
  • Body soap & shower gel – is used for cleansing prior to praying or traditional ceremony. The soap is used for removing bad luck. It can also be used along with sea salt, holy ash, and camphor blocks when taking a spiritual or cleansing bath.
  • Candles – made with impepho are burnt when praying or communicating with ancestors and to dispel negative energies.
  • Smudge sticks – are burnt to invoke & appease ancestors during a traditional ceremony. Impepho smudge sticks are also burnt to cleanse the home of any negative energies or bad spirits. The smudge can also be used to fumigate a home and repels insects.
  • Emetic – is a concoction made using impepho to induce emesis. The mixture is used to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, chest pains, coughs, and colds.
  • Enema solution – is a concoction made using impepho to treat abdominal pains.
  • Steam concoction – made using impepho is used to treat colds, coughs, and fever.

You can buy impepho on the IMTHI YESINTU SHOP:

Impepho Smudge StickImpepho Powder 50g, Impepho Fibre and Pulp 50g

Safety precaution

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. Speak to your doctor or a herbalist for the best outcomes. You can also visit the imithiyesintu website and social media or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.

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