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Kalanchoe paniculata (Indabulaluvalo) – Treating Anxiety & Anxiousness

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Family: Crassulaceae

Scientific name: Kalanchoe paniculata

Authority: harv.

Common names: indabulaluvalo (Zulu), large orange kalanchoe (English), hasieoor (Afrikaans)

In traditional medicine, all plants are equal, but some plants are more equal than others. Indabulaluvalo, is a specialized plant that is more equal than others.  

Plant description

Indabulaluvalo is scientifically known as Kalanchoe paniculata. In the Kalanchoe genus, it is one of the most widespread species in Southern Africa, where it is endemic. K. paniculata is a thick-flesh leafy succulent, a plant that stores water in the leaves or stem. It typically grows in very dry or stony environments where it grows up to 1.3 m in height.

In traditional medicine, the root is the most preferred part of the plant. The plant is used to treat a diverse range of conditions, one of which is named uvalo.

The African traditional medicine system is different from Western medicine system in that it does not just cure physical, emotional, and mental ailments, they also address spiritual ailments. This holistic nature makes traditional medicine ideal for treating complex illnesses. Among these complex illnesses are illnesses known as ukufa kwabantu in Zulu. Ukufa kwabantu are chronic illnesses with a spiritual or supernatural causation. Examples of ukufa kwabantu include izizwe (spiritual possession) and uvalo (or anxiousness).

What is uvalo (anxiety)?

Uvalo is a Zulu word that means anxiety or anxiousness in English. For the sake of consistency and clear communication, the term anxiety will be used in the rest of the article to mean uvalo.

Anxiety is a physiological and psychological state where a person experiences fear and uncertainty about a situation. A person usually feels anxiety when there is a perceived threat regardless of whether there is a stimulus or not. Stimulus, in this case, refers to anything, event, activity, or even energy that makes a person feel threatened, uncertain, fearful, or unsafe about a situation.

Types of anxiety

African traditional medicine recognizes three types of anxiety:

  1. Normal anxiety – a type of anxiety that usually has an identifiable stimulus. For example, you may feel this type of anxiety when there is potential danger. This anxiety is usually temporary, lasting for a few minutes or few hours depending on the cause. Inyoni is an example of normal anxiety experienced by children. A child is said to have inyoni when they are easily frightened. Inyoni in children can be cured through a traditional ritual called ukulahlwa (to throw away).  Inyoni can also have a supernatural causation.
  2. Pathological anxiety – a type of anxiety that is persistent. It usually does not have an external identifiable source or stimuli. Meaning there is usually no identifiable reason to feel anxious. When untreated this type of anxiety can lead to anxiety disorder and other physical ailments related to the digestive, cardio-vascular, and nervous system. African traditional medicine recognizes this type of anxiety as being caused by sorcery. The two most commonly used methods to cause this type of anxiety are ukukhafula and ukuphonsa.
    1. Ukukhafula – an act of putting umuthi (medicine) in the mouth and spitting it out while calling the targeted person’s name. 
    2. Ukuphosa – an act of projecting medicine to another person without being in direct contact with them. With ukuphosa one person projects medicine to another person who is at a distance.

Anxiety that you get due to someone else doing witchcraft on you is known in Zulu as uvalo lwesilwane (anxiety from witchcraft).

  1. When a person has an ancestral calling, they can also experience anxiety. Anxiety associated with ancestral calling is either borderline pathological or fully pathological in nature. This type of anxiety is known in Zulu as uvalo lwedlozi (anxiety from an ancestral calling).

Symptoms of anxiety

The above-mentioned types of anxieties will generally display similar symptoms to a varying degree. These symptoms include fearfulness, nervousness, heart palpitations, sleeping problems, fatigue, perspirations, and headaches.

How the symptoms manifest will vary from person to person. Usually, the first symptom begets the second which begets the third and so on, similar to a domino effect. Some people may have all the mentioned symptoms, while only have a few.

Anxiety is also a symptom of idliso lomoya (poisoning of the spirit).

Treatment for anxiety

Only a trained seer is able to discern the difference between anxiety from witchcraft and anxiety from an ancestral calling. To an untrained eye, these two conditions look very similar. Hence, it’s important to see a seer if you suspect you might be suffering from either one as their treatment is distinct. 

Traditional healers have a range of methods for treating the different types of anxiety. Two of these treatment methods include:

  • Doing a ritual to appease the ancestors. This type of treatment is most common for anxiety from ancestral calling.
  • Giving the patient an emetic to induce emesis, known as ukuphalaza in Zulu. This treatment is common when treating both the anxiety from witchcraft and anxiety from ancestral calling. For anxiety from witchcraft, K. paniculata is mixed with amakhubalo, herbal medicines and amulets for protecting from witchcraft.

Other uses and preparation methods

Besides treating anxiety, K. paniculata is also used for the following:

  • Treating colds. Southern Sotho people chew the fresh roots to treat colds. The roots can also be dried and ground to powdered and used as a snuff to treat colds.
  • As a love charm. It is said that Zulu men scarify (cut) their lower foreheads and rub the ash of the burnt leaves and flowers into the wound of the cut. This is done to attract the attention of the young women they wish to court.

K. paniculata is one of three plants that are toxic to livestock, causing a poisoning syndrome known as nenta

Buy indabulaluvalo powder: 

Learn about some of the concepts covered in this article, including: Izizwe, Induced emesisi – ukuphalaza, and Idliso | Discover other ways of using indabulaluvalo by accessing, Amakhubalo – amulets, charms, and medicines for protecting against witchcraft

Safety precaution:

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine. 

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