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6 Exotic Herbs You’ve Never Heard Of (But Should Still Try)

3 min
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From powerful aphrodisiacs to "living fossils" with medicinal properties, the natural world holds herbal mysteries you've likely yet to explore.

Here at Zamnesia, we love cannabis. That said, when it comes to the bounty of plants this earth has to offer, there's a world beyond the wonders of weed. Many trees, shrubs, and herbs are known for their medicinal and psychoactive properties. Here are a few fascinating species you may not have heard of, each with their own powerful characteristics.

CATUABA

Catuaba

Catuaba (Erythroxylum catuaba) is a natural aphrodisiac and stimulant originating from the Amazon rainforest. Catuaba can be ingested as a tea infusion or tincture using the bark of the plant. It's been used by the indigenous Tupi tribe as a libido-enhancer since long before European colonisation. More recently, catuaba has become synonymous with a popular liquor in Brazil.

The effects of the plant on sexual desire and performance are legendary. Catuaba increases blood flow to certain "key areas", as well as stimulating the nervous system. Many users report a pleasant tingling sensation all over the body. Your favourite ASMR videos will be yesterday's news. Catuaba can also help with nerve pain and nervousness, as well as improve poor memory function. Perfect! You'll remember all the great sex you're having in crystal-clear detail.

GINKGO BILOBA

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a unique tree native to China, where it's considered sacred. Ginkgo is one of the oldest species of tree in the world, with no close living relatives. Botanists often describe it as a "living fossil". Imbued with a mysterious quality, it only blooms at night, before immediately shedding its blossoms. Pretty cool.

Ginkgo leaf tea has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. It has antioxidant properties and has been shown to improve memory when consumed regularly. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has acknowledged that ginkgo may have cardiovascular benefits. That means improving circulation and protecting against blood clotting caused by heart disease.

Trying to quit coffee? Try ginkgo tea! Studies have shown it helps combat fatigue, increasing energy levels and alertness. Just keep an eye out for unwanted symptoms like nausea or headaches. Negative reactions are rare, but a small number of people are allergic to ginkgo.

UVUMA-OMHLOPE

Uvuma-omhlope

Uvuma-omhlope, also known as Synaptolepis kirkii, is an African herb with pitch-black stems and stark-white roots. It's traditionally been used by the Zulu and Xhosa tribes to induce lucid dreams, receive prophetic visions, and communicate with ancestors. The active compounds in Uvuma-omhlope have also been found to aid in the growth and maintenance of healthy nerve cells.

Uvuma-omhlope is typically made into a tea. The exact alkaloid in the plant's roots that causes lucid dreaming is unknown. However, its effects can be powerful. Since there's very little research into Uvuma-omhlope, you should avoid mixing it with other drugs or alcohol. Talk to your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, and never take Uvuma-omhlope if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. Otherwise, drink up and go on a unique adventure through your dream-scape.

MULUNGU

Mulungu

The Erythrina mulungu plant is a large tree found in the rainforests of Brazil and Peru. The tree itself is quite beautiful, and is often displayed in an ornamental capacity. In this context it's referred to as "coral flower". Mulungu is also a strong natural tranquiliser, used in Brazilian traditional medicine to reduce stress and anxiety. Its leaves and bark can be brewed into an infusion that exerts a calming effect on the central nervous system.

Mulungu contains several alkaloids that have been scientifically[1] studied for their anti-anxiety effects. It should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have low blood pressure.

CALAMUS

Calamus

The Bible makes reference to an herb called "kaneh bosm", used in sacred anointing oil. There is debate among some scholars whether this refers to cannabis, or to calamus, a tall, reed-like plant commonly known as "sweet flag". Calamus is rich in essential oils and gives off a sweet scent. It's prized for its medicinal properties in numerous cultures around the globe. In Europe, it's been consumed since the Middle Ages as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. It's also used in Ayurvedic medicine, and in Tibet, calamus incense is burned to increase concentration.

The mild stimulant properties of calamus create a clarifying, uplifting effect. It's popular as an herbal remedy to support digestion, and its active compounds may also benefit respiratory health. Calamus powder can be mixed with hot water, strained, and taken like a tea. While safe if ingested properly, you should avoid exceeding the recommended dose. Because it's a uterine stimulant, you should also never use calamus if you're pregnant or nursing.

BOBINSANA

Bobinsana

Bobinsana (Calliandra angustifolia) is a small tree, and one of the supporting ingredients in ayahuasca. While bobinsana itself has no hallucinogenic properties, it's considered a "plant teacher", helping shamans spiritually connect with and learn from plants. Bobinsana is used as a stimulant by the indigenous people of the Amazon basin, where it grows along rivers and streams.

Bobinsana is popular for its medicinal properties. It is used to boost energy and immune function, treat rheumatism, colds, arthritis, and uterine disorders. Brew it into a decoction or make a bobinsana tincture to access its myriad benefits.

EXPANDING YOUR HORIZONS WITH HERBS

Whether you're looking to boost energy or embark on a mind-expanding journey through lucid dreams, plants can facilitate profound and unique experiences. Because of their powerful properties and connection to different cultural traditions, experimenting with psychoactive plants should always be done with caution and respect. When you're ready, forging new connections with the natural world can start with something as simple as brewing a tea. Pretty amazing, when you think about it.

Cassie S.

Written by: Cassie S.
Cassie is a writer with a background in public policy. She believes in harm reduction, ending stigma, and evidence-based practices. This applies to psychoactive substances, and to life in general.

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Disclaimer:
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

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