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Herb of the month: Mbor Mbor

My Magazine 2022/05
2 min
Mbor Mbor, as it is called in the Wolof language in The Gambia, does not have a specific botanical name, as this wild shrub grows in many different forms and is very widespread in the savannah landscape of West Africa. It comes from the family Lippia Chevalieri Moldenke. Morphologically, however, it is very close to the Lippia multiflora family, commonly known as “Gambian tea”.

In the Gambian language Mandinka, it is called Sisiling-nyamo.

Lippia Chevalieri Moldenke is a herb belonging to the Verbenaceae family, mostly used in folk medicine in Burkina Faso and other African countries to treat malaria, mental disorders, liver disease, hepatitis, anaemia and respiratory disorders.

This aromatic shrub grows up to 1.5 m high. The elliptical leaves are up to 11 cm long, grey below, with a serrated edge and are arranged in vortices. Strongly fragrant flowers can be put in pillows to prevent headaches, and dried leaves are used to make a refreshing herbal tea that helps with chest pain and adds more blood to the body.

Dried leaves between clothes even repel insects.

The refreshing herbal tea has a pleasant mild taste. It is very similar to sage and Vervain, which is somehow understandable since Vervain (Verbena Officinalis) comes from the same family as Mbor Mbor. Even in terms of healing effects, it is very similar to those of Vervain, as it has a calming effect, facilitates easier breathing, soothes headache, improves eyesight, stabilises blood pressure, eases digestion, reduces fever, and it acts as a laxative.

Mbor Mbor tea also accelerates sweating, soothes cramps in the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and alleviates menopausal disorders. It is also recommended for headaches and migraines, menstrual problems, gallstones, and metabolic disorders. It is supposed to help with pessimism, depression and irritability. Externally, Vervain is used to treat wounds (for rinsing and compressing).

So Mbor Mbor is somehow an African version of Vervain, which is good to know if we travel to West Africa and prefer to be treated with herbs rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

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