M. whitei consists of the dried roots of Mondia whitei. M. whiteiis aperennial woody climber reaching 3–6 m high with twining stems which exudes white latex when cut. It has characteristic large, oppositely positioned heart-shaped leaves.
It is especially valued for its medicinal virtues, particularly as an aphrodisiac, but is also as a food, drink, source of fibre and tooth cleaner. The roots are used to flavour food and tea. Both the roots and the root bark have a pronounced vanilla-like odour and taste like a mixture of liquorice and ginger. They are anodyne, aphrodisiac, appetizer, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, purgative, restorative, stomachic, tonic and uterine stimulant.
The root is especially highly valued throughout Africa as an aphrodisiac – the fresh or dried roots are chewed to treat sexual weakness, prevent premature ejaculation and to increase sperm production.
A decoction or infusion is widely taken to treat digestive troubles including gastro-intestinal problems, stomach-ache, indigestion, constipation, anorexia, and as a restorative and appetite stimulant.
The decoction is also used to treat a wide range of other conditions, including urinary infections, gonorrhoea, jaundice, coughs, bronchitis, chest complaints, headache, paralysis and epileptic attacks, depression, to relieve body pains
Roselle is an erect, mostly branched, annual to perennial plant growing up to 4.5 metres tall. The stems often become woody, at least at the base, and persist for more than a year. An important multipurpose plant supplying a range of foods, medicines and other products It has been grown as a food crop for around 6,000 years.
The fresh calyx (the outer whorl of the flower) is eate n raw or cooked. It is rich in pectin and citric acid. The ripe calyces are diuretic and antiscorbutic. The succulent calyx, boiled in water, is used as a drink in the treatment of bilious attacks. The flowers contain gossypetin, anthocyanin, and the glycoside hibiscin.
These may have diuretic and choleretic effects, decreasing the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood pressure and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. The plant is a tropical beverage
used commonly in folk medicines to treat hypertension, pyrexia, inflammation, liver disorders, kidney and urinary bladder stones, and obesity (Liu et al., 2006).
The dried flower extracts possessed antioxidant activity and protected rat hepatocytes from t-BHP-induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity (Christian et al., 2006; Falade et al., 2005). The urine of 36 healthy subjects, after consumption of the flower juice, showed a decrease of creatinine, uric acid, citrate, tartrate, calcium, sodium, potassium and phosphate but not oxalate (Carvajal-Zarrabal et al., 2005).
This could help the treatment and prevention of renal stones.
Grains of paradise consists of the dried mature seeds of Aframomum melegueta. A tufted leafy herbaceous perennial plant up to 2m high; leaves are distichously arranged. Although used mainly as a condiment, the seeds also have a stimulant action on the digestive system, strengthening and warming the stomach. They are used to alleviate indigestion, flatulence and bloating and help to relieve abdominal discomfort due to colic or griping. The seeds can help to reduce or prevent vomiting and to bring relief from nausea. They have also been used as an aphrodisiac. The seed is used to treat head colds, influenza, slight abdominal pains, constipation, menstrual pains and rheumatism. Combined with Zingiber officinale, they are used to treat colds and fever. Crushed in citron juice, they are employed for treating glandular problems. The pulverised seeds are used in an enema for treating constipation pains, and are mixed with mustard oil in an ointment for easing arthritis pains. The seeds are pulverised with the seeds of Piper nigrum and then mixed with coconut oil to make an ointment that is used to treat general swellings and pains. Studies on the sexual behaviour of male rats showed that A. melegueta and P. guineense increased sexual arousal (Kamtchouing et al., 2002).
African nutmeg is a deciduous tree with a huge, lush crown; it can grow from 10 – 35 metres tall. The bole can be up to 2 metres in diameter. The tree is particularly valued for its aromatic seed, which is used as a condiment, medicinally, and also to make rosaries and necklaces. Usually harvested from the wild, the seeds are often sold in local markets in W. Africa. The tree is also occasionally cultivated for its seeds on the Antilles and in Indonesia. A very ornamental tree with its attractive leaves and orchid-like, conspicuous and scented flowers.’
The aromatic seeds are ground into a powder then used as a condiment in food, providing a flavour resembling that of nutmeg. The seeds are embedded in a white sweet-smelling pulp of a fruit that can be 20cm long by 15cm in diameter.
The aromatic seeds are antiemetic, aperient, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. They are used as a stimulating addition to medicines. Ground to a powder they may be taken to treat digestive problems and relieve constipation. Applied externally in the form of a powder, or made up into an oily pomade, the seed can be applied to sores, especially those caused by the guinea-worm. It is also applied to rid the body of fleas and lice.The seeds are chewed up and applied to the forehead to relieve headaches and migraine
An erect, hardy and bulbous perennial herb up to 60 cm in height, with a central bulb covered in scales in the axil. Several scientific studies have shown that garlic has antihyperlipidaemic, antihypertensive and anticoagulant properties (Auer et al., 1990; Broche et al., 1990; Barrie et al., 1987). The herb’s many therapeutic actions are attributed to the compound allicin and its metabolites. For example allicin and its corresponding sulphide inhibit the proliferation of several human nonleukaemia malignant cells in vitro. In vitro studies have shown that ajoene possesses antithrombotic, anti-microbial and cholesterol lowering properties; ajoene exhibited inhibitory effects on platelet activation (Apitz-Castro et al., 1986),
Aloe vera is used in folkloric medicine to treat dermatitis, thermal and sunburns, cystic ache, peptic ulcer, colds, tuberculosis, gonorrhea,
asthma, dysentery, headache, fungal infections, and diabetes (Sample et al., 2001; WHO, 1991; Ali et al., 1990).
Biological and Pharmacological activities
Biological and chemical investigations have confirmed the wound-healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe vera (Davis, 1994; Udupa et al., 1994, Bruce, 1967; Lorenzettet al., 1964). Aloe-emodin is responsible for the antiviral and antifungal properties of the plant (Van Zyl and Viljoen, 2001).
A deciduous tree up to 35 m high, buttresses deep-fluted high and narrow; slash spotted white and light brown; latex copious.The analgesic and antiinflammatory effects of Alstonia have been shown in many laboratory studies, Extracts of A. boonei have potential antihelminthic effects by the ability to inhibit glutathione S-transferases from parasitic nematodes (Fakae et al., 2000). The indole alkaloid echitamine, which showed several pharmacological activities including hypotensive activity and relaxing activity of the smooth muscles. The bark, leaves and roots are all used to relieve rheumatic pain and other pains.
Cabbage palm is a small to medium-sized tree usually growing up to 18 metres tall but with occasional specimens to 30 metres. The bole can be free of branches for up to 15 metres, and 50 – 90cm in diameter. Cabbage palm is widely used in traditional medicine throughout its distribution area as a strong purgative and diuretic. The bark has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A bark decoction is taken or used as vapour bath to treat fever, stomach-ache, leprosy, gonorrhoea and dysmenorrhoea
Administration of a leaf decoction to a 49-year-old female diabetic patient caused her fasting blood sugar level to fall from 242 mg/dl to about 120 mg/dl after 12 weeks, remaining at this level for eight weeks (Addae-Mensah, 1992). A 45-year old hypertensive woman, who had diabetes diagnosed on routine examination had her fasting blood sugar level of 370 mg/dl reduced to 250 mg/dl after one week and continued to fall until it normalized after eleven weeks on immediate administration of B. ferruginea. No medication was prescribed for her hypertension, but her blood pressure fell from 180/90 to 140/90 during the treatment period (Addae-Mensah, 1992; Ampofo, 1977). Aqueous extracts of the leaves were able to normalize the fasting blood glucose levels and helped in eliminating glycosuria of patients with maturity-onset diabetes (Iwu, 1993).
Negro coffee consists of the matured dried roasted seeds of Cassia occidentalis. Glaborous herb or undershrub; annual or up to 3 years durations; leaves compound pinnate, leaflets 4-5 pairs, terminal pair largest, broadly lanceolate or ovate. The seeds are brewed into a
coffee-like beverage for asthma, hypertension, malaria, fevers and stomach complaints.
A small tree with smooth bark; opposite dark green, coriaceous and shiny leaves, obovate, with 3-5 basal nerves, up to 15 cm long and 10 cm broad; flowers unisexual, cream, in axillary and terminal panicles; fruit small drupe.
Studies have shown that the bark of the plant contains volatile oils, mucilage, calcium oxalate, tannins, and starch, all of which work synergistically to give the plant its appetizer, carminative, digestive and stomachic actions (Pamplona-Roger, 11998). C. zeylanicum promotes gastric and intestinal juice secretion and enhances gastric motility. The bark extracts have shown to be effective against fluconazole-resistant and -susceptible Candida isolates in vitro. A small scale clinical trial on AIDs patients showed the herb to be effective for treating oral candidiasis (Quale et al., 1996). Antibacterial actions have also been demonstrated in vitro (Azumi et al., 1997; Bruneton, 1995). C. zeylanicum‟s diterpenes have shown antiallergic activity (Nagai et., 1982). Aqueous extracts exhibited antiulcer effects (Akira et al., 1986). Cinnamon may have hypoglycaemic properties in vitro (Berrio et al., 1992). Its mild astringent action may be due to the tannins. The essential oils of C. zeylanicum, Ocimum gratissimum, Cymbopogon citratus, Eugenia uniflora, and Alpinia speciosa demonstrated inhibitory action against dermatophyte strains in vitro (Lima et al., 1993). The oil and leaf extracts have antiviral activity (Kato, 1975; Leung and Foster, 1996); the eugenol-containing leaf oil has demonstrated antiseptic and anaesthetic properties. Several studies have shown that cinnamaldehyde has hypotensive and spasmolytic effects. It also inhibits the enzymes cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase and increases peripheral blood flow (Tahara et al., 1986; Harada and Yamazaki, 1981). Extracts have shown antioxidant activity in vitro and may be useful as food antioxidants (Mancini-Filho et al., 1998).