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More herbs for treating rheumatism


Chenopodium ambrosioides

Chenopodium ambrosioides

Until now, several medicinal plants including Zingiber officinale (ginger), Citrus aurantifolia (lime) and Psidium guajava (guava) have shown anti rheumatoid arthritis properties.

But researchers from the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria have endorsed more medicinal plants used for the treatment of rheumatism by Amahor people of Edo State.

The team of researchers led by Erhenhi A. H. in a study published in International Journal of Plant Research has endorsed Spondias mombin, Dysphania ambrosioides formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides and Pterocarpus soyauxii for treating rheumatism.

Commonly called Hog plum, Ashanti plum, Spanish plum, mombin or monbin; Spondias mombin is of the plant family Anacardiaceae. To the French, it is mombin, or monbin. In Nigeria, it is kechibo in Bokyi; ogheeghe (the fruit) in Edo; nsukakara in Efik; tsadar masar in Hausa; ijikara, ogogo, ngwu or ungwu in Igbo; aginiran in Ijaw; kakka in Tiv; ogghighen in Urhobo; iyeye (the fruit) or akika (the tree) in Yoruba.

Commonly called Indian wormseed, sweet pigweed, Mexican tea, Jesuit’s tea, Chenopodium ambrosioides belongs to the plant family Chenopodiaceae. It is called ewe imí (leaf of excreter) in Yoruba.

Commonly called barwood; redwood; African coral wood; African padauk, or Gabon padauk, Pterocarpus soyauxii, is a species of Pterocarpus in the family Fabaceae, native to central and tropical West Africa, from Nigeria east to Congo-Kinshasa and south to Angola.

It is called bois rouge in French. In Nigeria, it is called ìgbìlhà in Abua; ídúòt in Anaang, boku in Bokyi; akumẹ in Edo; ídúòt in Efik.

Parts of Spondias mombin are used for the treatment of rheumatism were leaves, stem, bark and root, which are prepared in different forms with addition of other materials like native chalk and fresh palm fruits before administration.

Qualitative screening of the plants collected showed the presence phytochemicals such as alkaloid, saponin, flavonoid, phenol, tannin, terpenoid, steroid and anthraquinone at moderate concentration.

Preliminary results report a wide range of antibacterial and antifungal properties. The chemistries of this plant has been reported, recommended its use for pregnant woman but only after five months of pregnancy. The results indicate that the cytotoxic effects of the plant may have some benefits in protecting the foetus from foreign pathogens. High levels of cytotoxicity are believed to be a good indicator of analgesic properties. The use to ease pain during childbirth supports this evidence. The results of antibacterial and antifungal bioassays demonstrate growth inhibition.

Nigerian researchers have studied the sedative, antiepileptic and antipsychotic effects of Spondias mombin in mice and rats. Infusion of fresh leaves is used for the treatment of short sightedness and Infusion of fresh leaves plus lime juice is used for the treatment of cataract. The fresh leaves are squeezed in water and filtered and also fresh leaves are squeezed in water plus lime juice; and taken one cup thrice daily.

Spondias mombin

Spondias mombin

The juice from fresh leaves with lime juice is used against cataract. The leaves are used against convulsion and stomachache. Infusion of leaves is used for the treatment of cold and cough. The decoction or macerated stem bark is used against severe cough, with immature palm nuts used for the treatment of fibroid. The juice from the fruit is used as a febrifuge (a medication that reduces fever) and for diuretic (any drug that elevates the rate of urination) purpose. The stem bark is fungicidal and showed anti-turmour property when it was administered on Wister Rat.

Rheumatism is common among the aged both in rural and urban areas. This disease condition makes the victims to find it difficult to sit or stand quickly without experiencing acute pains. Rheumatism is chronic, progressive, disabling autoimmune disease characterized by systemic inflammation of joints, damaging cartilage and bone around the joints. It is a systemic disease, which means that it can affect the whole body and internal organs such as lungs, heart and eyes. Although numbers of synthetic drugs are being used as standard treatment for rheumatoid arthritis but they have adverse effect that can compromise the therapeutic treatment.

The researchers wrote: “The plant species recorded in this study has not been reported for the treatment of rheumatism. Although, several other plants from the same family and several other families have been reported for the treatment and management of rheumatism by various researchers, this include the studies of Harish et al. (2010) reported that all parts of Ocimum basilicum (scent leaf) including seed are boiled with mustard oil and the prepared lotion is applied on joint pain for two to four days. Jiofack et al. (2010) reported the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of rheumatism to include Alchornea floribunda leaves, stem and maceration and Zingiber officinale leaves, seeds and stem.

Similarly, Kaur et al. (2012) reported the use of plants such as Acteae racemosa and Zingiber officinale in the management of rheumatism. The use of Aframomum melegueta (Alligator pepper) in the treatment of rheumatism has also been reported by Enti (2002) who stated that the spice is mixed with other herbs for the treatment of body pains and rheumatism. The anti-rheumatic potentials of the plants recorded in this study may be attributed to the presence of bioactive compounds which are present at varying concentrations as reported by Bishnu et al, (2009).

“Research has shown that many of these indigenous plants contain bioactive compounds that exhibit anatomical and physiological activities against bacteria and other microorganisms and are also used as precursors for the synthesis of useful drugs (Bishnu et al, 2009; Edeoga et al., 2005).

“The results of the phytochemical analysis showed the presence of such as alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, anthraquinones, steroids and saponins in moderate concentrations I the three plant species. This is similar to the report of Njoku and Akumefula (2007) who reported the presence of tannins, saponins, alkaloids, phenols and flavonoids on Spondias mombin at moderate concentrations. Also, Adejumo et al. (2011) reported the phytochemical composition of Dysphania ambrosioides and with positive result on the presence of alkaloids, saponins and tannins.

“The biological function of flavonoids include protection against allergies, inflammation, platelets aggregation microbes, ulcer, vineses and tumors (Okwu and Okwu, 2004). Flavonoids represent the most common and widely distributed groups of plant phenolics. Saponins in plant are responsible for the possession of hemolytic property, which is responsible for the medicinal potential of the plant. Alkaloids are the most efficient therapeutically significant plant substance. Pure isolated alkaloids and the synthetic derivatives are used as the basic medicinal agent because of their analgesic antispasmodic and bacterial properties. Tannins have been reported to have astringent properties, which hasten the healing of wounds and inflamed mucous membrane.

The presence of tannins in the leaves of Spondias mombin can support its strong use for healing of wounds, varicose ulcers, hemorrhoids, frost-bite and burn in herbal medicine (Adejumo et al., 2011). The presence of phenolic compounds in the leaves of Spondias mombin shows that the plant may have antimicrobial potential. This is because phenols and phenolic compounds have been extensively used in disinfections and remain the standards with which other bactercides are compared.”

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