Khanyisa Healing Garden

Project Aim

To grow and showcase a garden of medicinal plants used traditionally in South Africa to treat mental illness and other nervous system disease, and to document, preserve and utilize this wealth of indigenous knowledge.

The garden will serve to stimulate research, sustainable job creation, health promotion education and conservation related to these plants and their associated traditional indigenous knowledge. We are currently looking for suitable land to lease to establish the project (close to a major city or tourist destination (e.g., Knysna, Durban or Kruger), with indigenous vegetation and local community). Partnerships are called for with synergistic minded individuals.

“Khanyisa” is a word that means to illuminate and indicates the action of some of the plant medicines used in South African traditional medicine to uplift and heal the nervous system.

The Vision

The growing interest to know more about South Africa’s medicinal plants together with the great need of healing spaces has inspired the vision of creating the Khanyisa Healing Garden, which would serve as a place to document and research the cultural understandings and significance of the local medicinal healing plants, their therapeutic uses and conservation aspects, while providing a unique space and service for people to heal and improve their health. The vision is also that similar gardens can be replicated elsewhere around the world  as a network with the aim of sharing indigenous medicinal plant knowledge from different holistic medicine traditions so as to advance our understanding of healing consciousness with plant medicines. This is particularly needed for conditions such as depression and drug addiction.


  • Establish a research house as a fieldwork base camp from which to document the local plant use knowledge, manage the garden and related outcomes and activities (healing, guided walks and workshops).
  • Create the Khanyisa Garden and the healing spaces.
  • Document plant use knowledge from local elders and healers.
  • Select and train up local community members to be field guides, cooks, workshop administrators and garden assistants to create viable and sustainable jobs and skills development related to selling the renewable natural resource of the area (i.e., the practical experience with and learning about the plants, nature and healing).
  • Teach the applied knowledge to visitors and local communities for health promotion, plant conservation and local cultural revitalization.


Ethno-Tourism & Skills Development

There is a rapidly growing interest from overseas in South Africa’s traditional medicine plants, particularly those psychoactive plants used to treat nervous system conditions such as epilepsy, dementia and Parkinson’s etc.   A garden of these plants can be used to draw researchers and tourists to learn about their cultural and scientific value through unique nutrition and holistic medicine workshops, treatments, and walks that Jean has experience in facilitating. This and other potential community projects, including food gardens, offering and teaching healing treatments and community art training aims to develop sustainably driven and ecologically responsible skills related to the medicinal plant knowledge of the area.

Botanical & Cultural Heritage Promotion & Conservation

By documenting threatened South African cultural and botanical medicinal plant knowledge from local elders and healers will stimulate research, biodiversity conservation and education around the plants.  Outcomes will include print and digital promotional materials, online plant database, workshop materials, research papers, brochures, presentations, community art and more.

Local community health promotion

A complementary outcome of the project will be implementing health promotion training and cultural heritage revitalization to local community members for social and cultural upliftment. Thus, there is great research scope, social and economic benefits in documenting and showcasing the local South African medicinal plants, their cultural and medicinal value. We are calling on your collaboration and support for this unique and innovative South African ethno-botanical project.

We invite collaboration from passionate individuals, research and businesses to help grow this unique project that can be replicated here and elsewhere around the world so as to promote well-being through holistic medicine.

Khanyisa Healing Garden

Jean-Francois Sobiecki

Khanyisa garden


South African medicinal plants are greatly under-studied. In particular there is a rich yet unexplored tradition of psychoactive plants used in South African traditional medicine for effectively treating psychological and other nervous system conditions. Preliminary research has shown that over 300 species are used traditionally in South Africa in treating nervous system problems and mental illness, the details of which have not yet been recorded (Sobiecki, 2002, 2012).

Much of this medicinal healing knowledge is being lost an alarming rate with the dying of South African traditional elders and healers who are not passing on their healing wisdom to the younger generation who have lost interest in traditional values.  Thus, it is critical that this indigenous knowledge is documented and preserved for future application in medicine and healing before it is lost entirely. Furthermore, it is predicted by the World Health Organization that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disease burden in the first world. It is clear that many people living in modern day cities today are struggling more than ever to deal with stress and health related issues. Therefore, there is a great need for innovative places of healing, personal development and health promotion.

Healing Africa Foundation

The Healing Africa Foundation

The Healing Africa Foundation, the implementing agency is a non-profit, humanitarian-aid organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their slogan ‘Healing One Person at a Time’ is about every person making a small contribution in their own way for the collective good of humanity.

For more about the team please visit: