African dream root is an herb native to South Africa.
Traditionally, people used the plant’s roots to treat several health conditions. In addition, the Xhosa people of South Africa used the roots to stimulate vivid or lucid dreams, which they believed helped them communicate with their ancestors.
This article provides an overview of African dream root, its potential benefits, precautions, and how to consume it.
African dream root, also known as Silene undulata or Silene capensis, is a small perennial herb native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It typically grows in open forests and grasslands.
The Xhosa people refer to the plant as “undlela zimhlophe,” which means “the way or path of white things or symbols” (2).
Research suggests that the vivid or lucid dream-inducing properties of African dream root come from compounds called saponins that are present in the root (2).
You can buy African dream root in three main forms: the root on its own, a powder made from the ground-up root, and capsules containing the root powder.
African dream root is an herb native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The Xhosa and Zulu peoples of South Africa have long used it to treat fever and delirium and stimulate lucid or vivid dreams.
There’s little research on the composition of the African dream root plant.
However, research on plants from the Silene genus suggests these species contain some similar compounds, such as phytoecdysteroids, triterpene glycosides, antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids, various vitamins and minerals, and more (1).
The roots of African dream root contain compounds called triterpene saponins. Researchers believe these compounds help stimulate vivid or lucid dreams in people who are sensitive to the effects of the compounds (2).
Saponins are plant-based chemicals that get their name because they form a soap-like foam in water. Studies have linked saponins to various health benefits, such as antioxidant properties, reducing inflammation, and lowering cholesterol levels (
Alkaloids and diterpenoids in the root of the plant may also play a role in its psychoactive properties (2).
There’s little research on the composition of African dream root, but it’s similar to other plants from the Silene genus. The root contains triterpene saponins, alkaloids, and diterpenoids, which may cause its psychoactive effects.
African dream root is best known for its ability to stimulate vivid or lucid dreams.
Researchers believe this effect is due to compounds called triterpenoid saponins. These saponins form a foam-like substance if you mix them vigorously in water. Traditionally, people would drink this foam, which would stimulate vivid or lucid dreams (2).
However, the vivid or lucid dream experiences people have reported after taking African dream root are anecdotal. There’s currently no research that explains how African dream root may produce these effects.
Other than potentially stimulating vivid or lucid dreams, the saponins in the African dream root plant may offer additional benefits, such as:
- Antioxidant properties. Research on saponins suggests they may have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are molecules that help protect your cells from oxidative stress, which is linked to various chronic diseases (
3, 6, 7).
- Possible reduced inflammation. Test-tube and animal studies on triterpenoid saponins, such as those in African dream root, suggest they may reduce markers and signs of inflammation (
- Possible lower cholesterol levels. Research suggests saponins may help decrease cholesterol levels by either inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the gut or preventing the reabsorption of bile acids, which help digest fat (
- Possible lower blood sugar levels. Newer research on saponins suggests they may help decrease blood sugar levels by activating cellular processes that help remove sugar from the blood (
The saponins in African dream root may stimulate vivid or lucid dreams. In addition, they may offer antioxidant properties and help reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.
Because there’s a lack of research on the safety and side effects of taking African dream root, it’s difficult to analyze the potential downsides of consuming the plant.
However, the African dream root plant contains saponins, which form a foam-like substance when mixed with water. If you consume them in excess, saponins may irritate the lining of your digestive tract and cause vomiting (2).
In addition, people who have taken doses of African dream root that were larger than the typical amount have reported experiencing disturbing or confusing dreams (
If you’re considering taking African dream root, it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional beforehand, especially if you’re taking medications or have any preexisting health conditions.
Children, adolescents, and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid African dream root due to a lack of safety information for these sensitive populations.
There’s little research on the safety of African dream root, so it’s difficult to analyze potential downsides. In large doses, it may cause vomiting. Speak with a healthcare professional before taking it.
African dream root is available online and at some health-food stores.
You can buy it in various forms, including dried root, powder made from the root, and capsules containing the powder.
There’s currently no standardized dosage for African dream root. Most websites and stores selling it recommend starting with 250–500 mg of ground African dream root and mixing it vigorously in a glass of water to create a drinkable foam.
As mentioned earlier, there’s limited information on the safety of African dream root, and it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before taking it.
You can buy African dream root in various forms, including dried root, powder, and capsules. Traditionally, people prepare it by mixing the powder vigorously into water to create foam and then drinking it.
African dream root is an herb native to South Africa. People prize the plant for its roots.
These roots contain compounds, such as triterpene saponins, alkaloids, and diterpenoids, which may be responsible for the root’s ability to stimulate vivid or lucid dreams. However, scientists need to do more research on it.
There’s limited information on the safety of African dream root, so it’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before taking it. Children, adolescents, and pregnant or breastfeeding people should avoid taking African dream root as a precaution.