There is a resurgent interest world wide in the use of natural remedies to treat all sorts of ailments.
One of the plants used traditionally in African medicine is Hypoxis hemerocallidea also known as star flower, African potato or Inkomfe in Zulu. It is a tuberous perennial with strap-like leaves and yellow star shaped leaves. The tuberous rootstock or corm is the part mostly used for it’s medicinal properties. It is dark brown to black on the outside and yellow on the inside when freshly cut.
Infusions of the corm are used traditionally as emetics (a compound which induces vomiting) to treat dizziness, bladder disorders and insanity (Pujol, J. 1990 and Hutchings, A. 1996). An infusion is prepared when the plant part is macerated (finely chopped up) and soaked in cold or boiling water to extract the active compounds. The water extract (infusion) is usually taken orally.
Decoctions have been given to weak children as a tonic. Decoctions are prepared by boiling plant parts in water and then drinking the extract. The stems and leaves are mixed with other ingredients to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (non-malignant enlargement of the prostate gland in men). Other traditional medicinal uses of this plant include the treatment of testicular tumours and urinary infection. Anti-cancer, anti-HIV and anti-inflammatory properties of this medicinal plant have shown promising results in clinical trials (Albrecht, C. F. 1996). The juice is reported to be applied to burns (Watt, J. M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962).