Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Cancer Bush Leaves Uses

The Cancer Bush leaves have been traditionally used to make tea in South Africa.

Cancer Bush is frequently harvested from the wild, making it a popular herb for use in teas in South African herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is the art and science of using herbs to stimulate health and prevent and treat sickness. Leaves have been traditionally used to treat poor appetite, indigestion, gastritis, peptic ulcer, dysentery, diabetes, colds and flu, cough, asthma, chronic bronchitis, kidney and liver conditions, urinary tract infections, stress, and anxiety.

Cancer Bush Leaves
Cancer Bush Leaves

Sutherlandia Frutescens as a Medicinal Plant.

The Cancer Bush, also known as Lessertia frutescens, is a plant that has been used in South Africa for many years for its medicinal properties. It is grown in several provinces, including the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and Western Cape. People greatly respect this plant because it has been known to provide numerous health benefits.

The species moniker frutescens is derived from Latin and means bushy or shrubby. In botanical nomenclature, the species epithet is often chosen to describe a characteristic of the plant, and in the case of Sutherlandia frutescens, it reflects the plant's growth habit, which is typically shrubby or bushy. 

The plant's currently accepted botanical name, Sutherlandia frutescens, honors the Scottish botanist James Sutherland, the first Superintendent of the Edinburgh Botanic Garden who worked in the 18th century. 

The common name Cancer Bush reflects the historical beliefs of its cure for cancer in traditional South African medicine. Lessertia frutescens is an alternative or previously used name for the same plant. The authors Goldblatt and Manning contributed to the reclassification of the plant.

Most Popular Use for Cancer Bush Leaves

In traditional South African medicine, the leaves of the Cancer Bush plant are highly valued for their immune-boosting properties. Known for its immunomodulatory effects, the Cancer Bush is believed to have the ability to enhance the body's natural defense mechanism against infections, making it an important ally in maintaining good health. The active compounds found in the leaves of this plant have been extensively studied. They are known to positively impact the immune system, providing a natural and safe way to support overall wellness.

How Cancer Bush Leaves are Prepared

Leaves are full of natural substances that can be used to make different types of herbal medicines. To get these substances out of the leaves, one easy way is to put the leaves in hot water and make a tea drink. It's a popular method and has been used for a long time.

Cancer Bush Leaf Tea Recipe
Cancer Bush Leaf Tea 

Another way to get the beneficial substances out of plants is by making liquid extracts or tinctures. This method involves dissolving the active ingredients from the leaves using alcohol or other solvents. The resulting extracts are often more robust and potent than teas, so you can take smaller amounts to get the same benefits.

Cancer Bush Leaf Tea Ingredients and Directions


1 gallon of purified hot water

3 cups fresh Cancer Bush Leaves


Bring the water to a boil on your stovetop or in the microwave. Wash the leaves under warmish water. Pour the hot water into a teapot, then add the cancer bush leaves. Allow the tea leaves to steep for 5 to 15 minutes; a longer steep gives you stronger-tasting tea. Strain using a mesh strainer to remove large cancer bush leaves from the steeped water. You can drink your cancer bush leaves tea hot or let it cool down before sipping.

Common Names for the Cancer Bush Plant

Balloon Pea, Klappers, Jantjiebarend, Belbos, Belletjie, Gansies, Kiepiebos, Rooi-ertjie, Kalkoenbos, Umnwele, Camphor Bush, Gansiesbos, Jantjie-bêrend, Belletjieheide, Kipkippies, Kipkippers, Kankerbos, Gansbossie, Kalkoenbelletjie, Turkey Flower, Kleingansies, Kleinkankerbossie, Kleingansiesbossie, Hoenderklok, Hoenderkloek, Kalkoentjiebos, Kalkoenbelletjiebos, Wildekeur, Rooi-ertjiebos, Kankerbossie, Belletjie Heath, Bergkankerbossie, Blaasbossie, Gansiesblom, Eendjies, Eendjiesblom, Belletjieheide, Hoenderbelletjie, and Hoenderbelletjieblom.


Aboyade OM, Styger G, Gibson D, Hughes G. Sutherlandia frutescens: the meeting of science and traditional knowledge. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Feb;20(2):71-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0343. Epub 2013 Jul 9. PMID: 23837689; PMCID: PMC3924790.

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