Early dwellers present in South Africa such as the Hottentot tribe or Khoikhoi, smoked the dry leaves and flowers which were said to have narcotic properties bringing on a calm sensation or euphoric feeling when smoked, hence the vernacular name wildedagga meaning wild dagga. It has been reported to be similar to Cannabis but not in any way related and is very mild and not as potent. It is one of the most effective legal herbal substitutes to smoking tobacco or cannabis. Users have reported to have experienced symptoms of mild excitement or elation, visual impairment, dizziness and light headedness, nausea, and sweating.
The dried leaves can also be brewed to make an appetizing tea. In livestock it is used to treat cattle and fowl with Gall sickness. The sweet nectar is sucked from the base of the flowers by local children.
Leonotis leonurus was one of the many Cape Plants taken to Europe for gardening purposes many years ago, it is reflected in the European gardening literature as early as 1673.
Tea made from the whole plant is used for arthritis, piles, bladder and kidney disorder, obesity, cancer and rheumatism.
Wild dagga is also much respected in the treatment of animals. The Tswana, Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of leaves, flowers and stems to use as an enema in sheep, goats and cattle, as well as humans. This brew is given to animals with respiratory problems and applied as a lotion to sores on stock and dogs, and as a wash for wounds, scratches, bites and stings.
The Zulu people use the root for snakebite and they sprinkle a concoction of the plant around their houses to keep snakes away. The Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of the leaves and use as a poultice for snakebites. They also use a tincture of the root bark internally for snake bite.
Wild dagga users report experiencing feelings of serenity, relaxation, and euphoria. These effects make the herb popular in settings and scenarios where cannabis might be used, such as while relaxing at home, reading, or when socialising with friends.
Leonotis leonurus contains a chemical constituent leonurine that has been reported to be used in traditional medicine for curing a wide range of ailments including headaches, coughs, fever, asthma, haemorrhoids and dysentery. A remedy concocted out of the leaf and root is also used in treating snakebites as well as a natural remedy or charm to keep snakes away. An infusion of the flower and leaf is used to treat tapeworm. The twigs of this plant can be added into a warm bath to soothe diseases such as itchy skin and helps to relieve cramps in the muscles. L. leonurus has also been reported as a slimming medicine.
There are many studies online about the medicinal benefits of Wild Dagga, but more research is still needed.