Leaf of Life: What Is It, How to Use It, and How to Grow It

Updated on October 22, 2017
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

In addition to being a certified herbalist and aromatherapy consultant, Gina finds the unrelenting allure of gardening very strong.

Leaf of Life plant
Leaf of Life plant | Source

Leaf of Life, Medicinal Herb

Leaf of life is a medicinal herb that is:

  • native to Madagascar
  • very common in Jamaica
  • a popular houseplant
  • has become naturalized in tropical and subtropical areas

It is widely used as an herbal remedy for many different types of ailments, especially bronchial conditions.

Its scientific name is Kalanchoe pinnata, and it is also known as Bryophyllum pinnatum and Cotyledon pinnata.

These are its common names:

  • Air Plant
  • Cathedral Bells
  • Miracle Leaf
  • Life Plant
  • Leaf of Life
  • Love Bush
  • Live Forever
  • Goethe plant

The blooms of the plant gives it one of its nicknames, Cathedral bells.
The blooms of the plant gives it one of its nicknames, Cathedral bells. | Source

Where Is It Found?

This plant can be found in:

  • the Caribbean
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Nepal
  • Brazil
  • USA

In Jamaica, it can be found everywhere. Some people plant it in their flowers gardens for easy access. It also makes a very decorative addition to the garden.

The leaves can be picked and stored for days without withering.

How Do You Use Leaf Of Life?

I personally use it as alternative remedy for any type of respiratory condition, and I always receive great results. Recently I had a bout with bronchitis, and this leaf of life was very beneficial in my healing.

The leaf of life plant has the following properties:

  • antibacterial
  • antiviral
  • antimicrobial
  • antifungal
  • antihistamine
  • anaphylactic

How to take this remedy:

  1. An herbal tea made from this herb is useful to treat conditions such as shortness of breath, kidney failure, menstrual problems, asthma, coughs, bronchitis, as well as chest cold.
  2. It is said that you can chew the leaves to extract the juices by adding salt.
  3. The crushed medicinal leaves of this herb will bring relief from insect bites, bruises, boils, and also skin ulcers.
  4. A poultice of the crushed leaves can also be applied to the outer body for sprains, pains, as well earaches.
  5. Placing the back of the leaves on open sores, cuts and wounds will promote healing, stops bleeding as well as prevents infection.
  6. In certain countries, especially Puerto Rico, the fresh juice of this medicinal herb may be squeezed into the ears in regards to infections and can also be squeezed into the eyes for all eye problems.
  7. The stem as well as the leaves can be placed in water and taken daily to rid the body of mucous and waste matter.
  8. The fresh leaves of leaf of life can also be eaten raw as a medicinal remedy for asthma, bronchitis and intestinal problems.
  9. The leaf of life is said to be good for high blood pressure as well.

The flower of the Leaf of Life.
The flower of the Leaf of Life. | Source
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Standard dosages
kills bacteria
heals and prevents ulcers
a few leaves
kills viruses
increases urination
Infusion: 1 cup twice daily
kills fungi
lowers cholesterol
Juice: applied topically
reduces fever
constricts blood vessels
2-3 times daily
heals wounds
mildly sedative
suppresses coughs
blocks histamine
relieves pain
relaxes muscles
To propagate a leaf of life plant, all you need is a leaf dropped into some soil. Each leaf will grow a new plant from the black dots around the edge of the plant.
To propagate a leaf of life plant, all you need is a leaf dropped into some soil. Each leaf will grow a new plant from the black dots around the edge of the plant. | Source

How To Dry and Preserve Leaf of Life for Tea

Always consult with a qualified herbalist or medical professional before introducing a new herbal supplement into your regimen. Proper dosing strength and dosing frequency should be monitored by a qualified specialist. Check for side effects with current medications and any contraindications that may exist with preexisting conditions before proceeding.

How To Make Leaf Of Life Tea

To make an easy and quick cup of leaf of life tea:

  • bring one cup of water to boil then add 3 leaf of life leaves; let simmer for 3 minutes.
  • remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • remove leaves from the tea, pour in cup and sweeten with 1 to 2 teaspoons of organic honey.

If you are making more than one cup, increase serving size of boiling water and amount of leaves added.

Chest Cold Remedy

  • Warm 3 leaves and juice them.
  • This should yield 2-3 tablespoon of leaf of life juice.
  • Add a pinch of salt.
  • Take one tablespoon three times a day for as long as needed.

Poultice for Skin Ulcer, Sprains, and Insect Stings

  • Grind 7 fresh leaves into a poultice.
  • Apply the poultice evenly to the affected area.
  • Apply a fresh poultice twice a day, morning and night, as often as needed.

Cough Mixture for Cold, Coughs, and Chest Congestion

  • Warm 13 fresh leaf of life leaves over a fife.
  • Rub the leaves between your palms until they become juicy.
  • Squeeze the juice into a small pot. This should yield at least 6-8 tablespoons of juice.
  • Add the juice of 3 limes and 2 ounces honey to pot.
  • Simmer on a low flame for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from flame and allow to cool. Store in a bottle.
  • Take one tablespoonful every three hours for two weeks.
  • Skip one week and repeat, if necessary.

Have You Tried Leaf of Life Tea?

See results

Warning & Important Notes

Leaf of life should not be consumed during pregnancy! The information above is not medical advice for diagnosing, treating, or curing any specific disease, illness, or syndrome. It is important to consult with a physician or licensed health care provider prior to engaging in any aspect of alternative/holistic medicine. The information above is intended for educational purposes only and should be used at the sole discretion of each individual.


  • Xiuzhen, Yan, Lee Kuohsiung, and Yamagishi Takashi. "Isolation and Identification of Cytotoxic Compounds From Bryophyllum Pinnatum." Chinese Journal of Cancer Research. December 1992. Volume 4, Issue 4, pp. 1-3.
  • Robertson, D. "Jamaican Herbs: Nutritional and Medicinal Values." 1982.
  • Taylor, Leslie. The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs: A Guide to Understanding and Using Herbal Medicinals. 2005. Square One Publishers.
  • Ojewole, John A.O. "Antinociceptive, Antiinflammatory, and Antidiabetic Effectfs of Bryophyllum Pinnatum Leaf Aqeuos Extract." Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Volume 99, Issue 1, 13 May 2005, pp. 13-19.
  • Honychurch, P.N. Caribbean Wild Plants and Their Uses. 1986. Macmillan Caribbean.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Gina Welds Hulse


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      • profile image

        Paula 5 weeks ago

        I have been spreading this information for a number of years now. So glad to know that the Big Pharma can’t harvest it (all) and put into powder. Thank God/Yah. I just eat a leaf occasionally (without salt). This lady from Haiti saw my plants and told me that her brother had kidney stones and was schedule for operation, his mom gave him this tea for two weeks. When he got to the hospital for the surgery there was no Kidney stone. What great gift we have from God/Yah. Be blessed, Shalom

      • profile image

        Terry 2 months ago

        I juice the leaves and add a pinch of salt and give it to my boys .

      • profile image

        JoAnne 3 months ago

        Lovely music and video.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I know this plant as we had some in our garden. I know some people use it but I really haven't. I want to try the tea and thanks for the brewing instructions here.

      • profile image

        Elaine 3 months ago

        I am growing baby plants from a leaf I brought back from St Lucia.

        How big do they have to be before I separate them and is it best to cut the leaf into sections and leave the sections attached to the baby plants. I have seven babies so far. So exciting!!!

        I don’t want to lose these treasures

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        Interesting. I know this plant but have never thought it's edible. Thanks for the new knowledge.

      • profile image

        Dominique 7 months ago

        Where can u get it from pls

      • Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

        Gina Welds Hulse 7 months ago from Rockledge, Florida

        I never thought about adding the leaves to salads. I would think the very young ones would be best.

      • profile image

        Browny 7 months ago

        It is a wonderful plant ..truly a leaf of life. .it is also a great add to salad dishes. .. love this plant a great gift from mother nature. .bless

      • LEAFOFLIFE profile image

        LEAFOFLIFE 8 months ago

        Will the tea method help with the high blood pressure and cholesterol?

      • profile image

        Fatter 10 months ago

        Hi, I brought a leaf of life plant home from Jamaica. I live in Denmark, Europe and have the plant in a pot in the window, it seems really happy. How much water does it need? Is it a sukkulent, that needs to dry between watering or should it never dry? Hope you can help..

      • profile image

        Ako 10 months ago

        Can the leaves of life be used to treat vaginal stenosis?

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 11 months ago from Central Florida

        I learn so much from you, Gina. I love that natural remedies can be derived from plants we find in the garden. I don't know if I've ever seen this particular plant, but I'll certainly keep my eyes out for it!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 12 months ago from The Caribbean

        It's good to know about these all-purpose health-remedy plants. Thanks for the suggestions on how to use this leaf of life.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 12 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Cool I will look into local varieties.

      • Shyron E Shenko profile image

        Shyron E Shenko 12 months ago from Texas

        This is very interesting and I would try it thank you for bringing it to our attention.

        Blessings my friend