Umoyo is Zambia’s leading natural health and wellbeing company, whose products put other global health and wellbeing brands such as GNC and Holland & Barretts in the shade by just how natural the products truly are. Umoyo, which means “life’, was founded in 2007 by Swedish native Kim Otteby, who first lived in Zambia when she was just three years old. She also lived in Uganda before returning to Europe. She studied Nutritional Medicine at the University of West London and then read Economics and Management at Oxford. She returned to Zambia and founded the wellness company whose mission is to empower people to radically improve their well-being and life. Umoyo Natural Health products address common ailments such as high blood pressure (BP), diabetes and boosts immunity in HIV and cancer patients.
Umoyo has 10 retail outlets in Zambia, which are mainly concentrated in and around the capital, Lusaka. Products are also sold through the online shop which has the potential to be the iHerb of Africa. My favourite retail outlet is at Woodlands Shopping Centre, where Ruth Taonga Ziba is a fantastic Ambassador for the brand and demonstrated an incredible knowledge about the products and ailments they treat.
Here are Ruth’s top 10 picks:
#1 Dr Ho’s Formula
Umoyo’s hottest selling product is the proprietary formula based on Eastern medicine that provides a rapid response to relieving constipation. Unlike traditional senna laxatives that take 8-12 hrs to take effect, Dr Ho’s formula works in minutes! The drink is best taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The first time I took the formula, it took about an hour to sweep my system clean. Subsequent times were so quick that I didn’t have a chance to finish the 500ml bottle. That alone is its Unique Selling Point (USP) – it works fast and does not cause any cramping whatsoever. My only regret is that it does not come in a powder format that I can carry back to the UK. It is also used as a detox drink and to aid weight loss. It helped ease my water retention almost immediately.
Ingredients: alkaline water, black beans, corn hair, castor oil, organic honey, magnesium sulphate and potassium sorbate.
Price: ZMW30 ($1.70) for a 500ml bottle or ZMW324 ($18.40) for 12 bottles
#2 Himalayan pink salt
Himalayan pink salt is sold as a substitute for traditional table salt and is good for those who suffer from high BP. Sodium Chloride is needed by the body to support the nervous system, maintain fluid balance, and support muscle contraction and relaxation.
Nutrition per 100g: Sodium Chloride (97.10g), Magnesium (0.92g), Sulphur (0.89g), Potassium (0.23g), Calcium (0.21g), Iron (0.01g) and trace elements (0.06g)
Price: ZMW75 ($4.30) for 600g
#3 Red passion tea
A delicious combination of hibiscus (lowers BP and cholesterol, antioxidant), lemongrass (cleanses the liver and kidney, contains powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties) and cinnamon (stabilises BP and blood sugar, anti-inflammatory and pain relief) which is taken as a hot beverage. A similar combination is sold as a cold drink called Red Passion made with alkaline water and sugar. The cold drink is not recommended for diabetics even though it is not sugary sweet and rather refreshing.
Ingredients: hibiscus, lemongrass, and cinnamon
Price: ZMW45 ($3.10) for 100g
#4 Alkaline water
Umoyo sells pure reverse osmosis water that has been re-mineralised and ionized. It has a pH of 9-10, which is higher than the standard pH of 7 contained in leading water brands. Alkaline water neutralises acidity and restores balance in the body, which helps to fight off common ailments like colds. It is also absorbed by the body’s cells more effectively and is better for hydration, especially during the high temperatures Zambia is currently experiencing.
Price: K8 ($0.45) for 500ml
#5 Crocodile oil
I have tried this product before but could not get over the crocodile smell. However, it did heal the cut on my leg quicker than I had expected and did not leave a scar. Crocodile oil is a miracle product that heals open wounds, soothes burns, removes stretch marks, and stimulates hair growth for people with alopecia, among other uses. In Asia, it is used as an ingredient in face creams because of the high concentration of Omega 3,6, 7 and 9. In Zambia, crocodile oil can also be taken orally to boost the immune system in HIV patients.
Ingredients: 100% crocodile oil (highest grade)
Price: ZMW200 ($11.35) for 90ml
#6 Baobab powder
Baobab fruit (aka “mabuyu”) was my guilty pleasure growing up, much to my mother’s annoyance because I left the seeds everywhere after sucking and chewing off the chalky, almost tasteless white powder. Imagine my delight to find that there is a decaffeinated coffee made from Baobab fruit?! I stocked up yesterday and cannot wait to try it this weekend.
Baobab powder is a powerful antioxidant that also reduces inflammation in the body. It is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, niacin, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Ingredients: ground whole baobab fruit (pulp and seed)
Price: ZMW65 ($3.70) for 180g
#7 Coconut oil
Coconut oil offers a wide range of health benefits for inside and outside the body. When used for cooking, coconut oil has been known to increase good cholesterol, increase metabolism, reduce belly fat, improve brain functionality, and boost bone health. Externally, it can be used to hydrate the body’s skin and hair, repair wounds, relieve eczema, and as a natural insect repellent for mosquitoes.
Ingredients: Pure coconut oil
Price: ZMW120 ($6.85) for 350ml
#8 Moringa powder
Moringa is a super food which contains 90 nutrients, including most of the vitamins and minerals our body needs to function optimally. It is high in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. It can be taken as a beverage by adding the powder to hot water and added to smoothies, yoghurts, soups, and stews. Some mothers add it to porridge as a nutritional supplement for babies.
Ingredients: 100% pure moringa oleifera leaf powder
Price: K75 ($4.30) for 500g
#9 Aloe Vera drink
My mother uses her homegrown aloe vera leaves for everything, including trying to fix a hand sprain (!), treat common kitchen burns, as a tooth paste to treat sore gum, to treat a wasp’s sting (just yesterday!), and as emergency neutralising drink after she accidentally combined spirit of salt with another chemical and inhaled toxic fumes.
Aloe vera has many uses! The drink helps to detox and alkalize the body, boost immunity, it has strong anti-inflammatory effects and soothes the digestive tract. It can be used for treating ulcers. It is also a natural laxative, though hand on heart, I doubt it can outmatch the power of Dr Ho’s.
Ingredients: wild-grown whole aloe leaf, preserved with potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
Price: ZMW175 ($9.95) for 1 litre
#10 Male formula
Made from traditional herbs, the male formula is Zambia’s answer to Viagra with an extra punch. In addition to boosting endurance and getting one’s mojo roaring, the male formula stops premature ejaculation and improves sperm count. It can be taken three times a week in small doses – half a teaspoon mixed in hot water.
The male formula is far more popular than the female equivalent, as Zambian women typically don’t buy libido-boosting products although an imported sex-love gum sold pre-Covid was quite popular with the ladies. Makes you wonder: if Zambian men are upping their sex game but women are not, who are the men sleeping with?!
Ingredients: Oldenlandia, piper capense, ximenia americana
Price: ZMW90 ($5.10) for 50g