Medicinal Kalanchoe Plants
The three plants we will look at belonging to this group are the following:
- Kalanchoe pinnata (Bryophyllum pinnatum)
Also called "Goethe's Plant" as it was studied by the German poet of the same name. It is known by many other names across Latin America: Bruja, Yerba de Bruja, Prodigiosa, Hoja del Aire, Siempre Viva, Colombiana, Ojaransín, Hojerilla.
- Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Bryophyllum daigremontianum)
It produces numerous offspring or new plants on the edges of its leaves. The leaves have long marks along the bottom. It is also called: Arantes, Madre de miles (mother of thousands), Kalanchoe mexicana.
- Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (Bryophyllum gastonis-bonnieri)
The scientific name is in honour of the French botanist Gaston Bonnier. This plant has larger leaves than the previous two species, and goes by the names: Ojaransín, Hojerilla, Oreja de burro.
It should be pointed out that the common names are sometimes used for one or more of the plant species and vary according to country.
Kalanchoes are plants that act on the body as a whole, and as such they have a wide spectrum of potential. In traditional medicine, especially in Latin America, Asia and Africa, they are used to treat the following illnesses and ailments.
- Lesions and diseases related to cell damage, such as cancer
- Deep and gangrenous wounds
- Infections, burns
- Tumours, abcesses and foramens
- Kidney stones
- Psychological diseases: schizophrenia, panic attacks and phobias
Their medicinal reach may extend further than the aforementioned listed points as healing occurs in damaged cells on many of the body's organs.
In the main, it is the leaves that are used which have a slightly acidic taste. They can be applied externally or taken internally depending on what we want to treat:
- Externally: mashed leaves used as a poultice, compress or patch; juice from the leaves mixed in oil or Vaseline as an ointment. When used in this way, the plant is anti-inflammatory, antihaemorrhagic, astringent, and aids scarring.
- Internally: raw leaves in salad; fresh juice (add water for greater volume); infused leaves as a herbal tea. This is the method of treatment in cases of cancer.
Dosage for internal use: 30 grams per day of fresh leaf (approximately the size of two credit cards). Infusions can be taken an hour before every meal, using a teaspoonful of leaf per cup. In all, three cups of infused leaf per day.
Contra-indications: Do not take the plants during pregnancyy as they can stimulate the uterus. It is not advisable to take the plant continuously over long periods of time if no treatment is required. The plant's composition includes components like bufadienolides which are cardiac glycosides; therefore patients who have suffered from heart disease should consult with their doctor. Clinical investigation into kalanchoes indicates that toxicity may occur if there is abuse in the amount taken, and states that in doses of up to 5 grams of plant per kilo of weight, there is no toxicity (that would mean 350 grams of leaf for a person weighing 70 kilos, effectively a dosage four to ten times the recommended amount).
Mental attitude is very important when carrying out the treatment; everyone is different but should be aware that we are using a living thing, which not only has a physical aspect but also a subtle energy that we don’t see. The plant is a live being with the ability to cure us and we do well to have respect for and awareness of that reality. In Latin America, for example, traditional medicine takes these aspects into serious consideration. In the same vein, our attitude towards disease is also important; it should be as positive as possible and we should make the most of adversity as a chance to learn.
Kalanchoes are tropical plants, and the following requirements should be taken into consideration:
- Exposure: they adapt to sun and shade, outdoors and indoors. However, they do not tolerate frost, and should be protected if there is risk of frost. They need light. Tall plants must be protected from the wind or they may break.
- Soil: light soil, not loamy, e.g./ a mixture of sand and peat
- Watering: water regularly but be careful the soil does not get waterlogged or there will be a risk of root rot. They tolerate drought, especially Kalanchoe Daigremontiana although growth will be inhibited.
- Pests and disease: they are resistant plants, we know of no pests or disease.
- Reproduction: the baby plants that form on the leaves give root very easily. Leaves of the K. Pinnata and K.Gastonis plants must be placed on peat for the baby plants to appear on the sides.
- Harvest: start by cutting the leaves from the bottom up, in other words - the old leaves first.
For treatment of cancer, we need enough plants to last a few months in which case we should have plenty of plants prepared from reproduction of the baby plants. We need to start reproduction as soon as we have a plant. It’s always good to have some ready so we can help someone in need at any given moment.
If we find we have too much plant on our hands at a particular time, we can dry the leaves, chop them, and keep for making infusions. The drying process requires heat as the leaves contain a fair amount of water, but not direct sunlight. The leaves can also be frozen but should be used soon after removing from the freezer as they lose texture and do not keep for long once removed from the freezer.
FOR CONSIDERATION: Kalanchoe daigremontiana is classed as an invasive plant in some countries. It is advisable to bear this in mind, so as to avoid excessive propagation.