Limpopo Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba has voiced her concern about the growing number of people buying indigenous herbs for steaming purposes. The informal trade in indigenous herbs for steaming purposes is booming in Limpopo as people believe doing so reduces the chances of contracting Covid-19.
She said people have been using steam therapy to treat Covid-19, but she warned about the dangers associated with this practice. The MEC said that some steam procedures involve pure water, while with others, traditional herbs are added, such as Tshiumbeumbe. She said the belief is not supported by any scientific evidence and added that people with underlying conditions such as hypertension, should not steam. She also said that steaming should also not be done every day.
“Not everyone can steam. This is where the danger lies. People with other medical conditions continue to steam. Even when you go to your beauty spa, they will tell you that if you have hypertension, don’t enter the steam room because your medical condition can complicate things,” she warned.
Ramathuba said people who steamed could also sweat a lot, which could cause them to lose a lot of fluid and electrolytes.
“If you have renal problems, you might complicate your condition. If you want to steam, you must first seek advice from your physician,” she said.
Phathutshedzo Ramabulana, a resident from Murunwa, sells a traditional herb called Tshiumbeumbe (also known at Artemisia) on the streets in Louis Trichardt for R10 and R20 per packet, which generates an income for his family.
“This Tshiumbeumbe helps people. We get it from the mountain and many people are supporting us. This is the only income I have to put bread on the table for my family, as I lost my job due to Covid-19,” he said.