Dreaming and Dreaming medicines: (African Herbal Medicine)
This post is prompted by a strange dream I had last night. I had a restless night and battled to fall asleep, so at about 2 am I took some Valerian Root tablets and it seemed to do the trick, but this plant also has the reputation to bring you “interesting” dreams. Dreaming is seen as a very important part of ones training as a Sangoma, as often the ancestor spirits will visit you in your dreams bringing you messages and information or teachings on how to do things. They can also bring you warnings and help.
In the dream I had last night, I was wearing a traditional robe and was visited by a black man – who spoke to me in my native language – which is unusual. He asked me a very interesting question – the answer to which I will ponder in the next few days. I felt as if this may have been a spirit from one of the lineages I was initiated into.
Dream interpretation is important for guiding one’s spiritual journey. As an initiate you would report your dreams daily to your trainer and talk about the messages therein for you. Of course for us to dream – we need to sleep – and quality sleep brings quality dreams. Below I mention some medicines that can aid sleep & dreaming.
In Africa we have an interesting dream plant called “African Dream Root” (Silene Capensis). It is added to a mixture of foaming herbs we call “uBulawu” that is given to initiates to dream about their ancestors and be able to talk to them. The powdered root is said to be the ingredient that brings the dreams and visions. The African Dream Root is also said to aid “Lucid or awake” dreaming. The root is also used as a “lucky” medicine (muthi). The root can also be taken as a tea.
Before one uses this muthi, one must be cleansed for it to have maximum effect, so that your channels are open and not blocked by negative energies that can keep your dreams stuck. When I look at “shamanic” websites or ethno medicine websites selling this root online – without proper instructions – it worries me as the cleansing beforehand is very important. The medicine is not just in ingesting the plant material, but also in respecting the spirit of the plant medicine. In the sangoma traditions cleansing will traditionally be done by steaming a person with special herbs that cleanses, protects and uplifts them and opens them up to spiritual energies. A muthi like “ubulawu” will never be used if you are not “clean”.
Other African herbs that have a sedative and calming effect and can be used to aid rest, sleep and dreaming are: Sceletium Tortuosum (Kanna) (contains the mesembrine alkaloid), Psoralea Pinnata (umhlonitshwa) it works as a homeopathic type medicine and works on the emotional level rather than the physical level.
Another plant is African Griffonia. (West Africa) It contains 5-HTP that helps to elevate mood. I also mentioned Imphepho in my previous blog for its sedative properties. (Helichrysum odoratissmum).
Sometimes uVuma Umhlope (Synaptolepsis Kirki) is also used in the uBulawu mix. The African Sea bean (Entada Rheedii) is said to have magical uses in lucid dreaming and is often worn as a charm.
Important note: This Blog does not contain medical advice. Please take care when using these medicines and always seek expert advice. You may have unexpected reactions to the ingredients and some of these medicines can be toxic to the liver and kidneys in large doses or with prolonged use. They are also contra-indicated in pregnancy and should not be combined with SSRI, MAOI, or other psychiatric medications, cardiac medications, alcohol and cannabis.
Safe sources for obtaining medicines: If you want to try out the medicines for the first time and are not experienced with them, I suggest you try medicines that have already been processed and can be bought in health stores or from reputable suppliers. Do not buy the raw ingredients and try to make it yourself if you do not have experience in this. Below are some good sources of safe supplements. Please read the instructions for use and contra indications on the sites – if there aren’t any then I would be weary of ordering from them. Any site selling you medicine should also be willing to give you information on where they source their plants from, have a permit to harvest if they wild harvest and be willing to share their manufacturing info in terms of health & safety regulations. They should also be registered to some regulating body.
Big Tree Nutraceuticals – http://www.bigtreehealth.com/
Herbal Africa – http://herbalafrica.co.za/
Medico Herbs – http://www.medicoherbs.co.za/
Phyto Green – http://www.phytogreen.co.za/