Africa is blessed with numerous plants that can be used for medicinal purposes for which traditional medicine practitioners have taken full advantage of.
In this post, I’ll be taking you through some selected (common) Nigerian Herbs, names, their uses, and how you can turn to them for their maximum health benefits. It may interest you to know that most of these wonder herbs can be found even in your compound or within your neighborhood:
1. Lemon Grass
Local names: Achara Tea (Igbo). updates needed….
Lemon grass has been reported to have innumerable therapeutic and other health benefits include:
- alleviate certain respiratory conditions, including laryngitis and sore throats
- Anti-pyretic property which reduces high fevers.
- Useful for all types of pains, including abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, digestive tract spasms, muscle cramps, stomachache and others
- Lemon grass inhibits bacteria and yeast growth.
- Beneficial for nervous and stress-related conditions.
2. Mitracarpus scaber
Ogwungwo or Obuobwa in Igbo language, Gududal in Hausa language and Irawo lle in Yoruba language.
This is a very common weed of cultivated or fallowed land. It is a perennial herb of 30 cm tall (the botanical name is Mitracarpus scaberulus)
It has different names according to the different tribes in Nigeria. Ogwungwo or Obuobwa in Igbo language, Gududal in Hausa language and Irawo lle in Yoruba language.
Health benefits and medicinal uses of Metacarpus scaber
It is scientifically recognized for its lots of antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
The juice from the crushed plant is applied (externally) for the treatment of skin infections such as infected wounds, dermatoses, ringworms and scabies, lice, itching, craw-craw and other fungus diseases.
The juice is also applied for dressing of fresh cuts
Mitracarpus scaber is popular in traditional medicine practices in West Africa for the treatment of headaches, toothaches, amenorrhea, hepatic diseases and most venereal diseases as well as leprosy
It is used in the treatment of hemorrhoids otherwise called pile,
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus. Sometimes the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you poop.
Swollen hemorrhoids are also called piles.
Constipation, and inguinal hernia.
It is also used in treating intestinal parasites, convulsions and syphilis.
- Bryophyllum, Panfuti
Bryophyllum calycinum, Bryophyllum pinnatum, also known as the Air Plant, Life Plant, Miracle Leaf, Goethe Plant and the Katakataka (Filipino)) is a succulent plant native to Madagascar.
- The leaf or its juice is taken for diabetes.
- Leaf paste application stops bleeding and heals wounds.
- The burnt leaf (mashi) made in to paste with coconut oil cures burn.
- To prevent septic to cuts from sharp instruments, 15 leaves with four pepper corns roasted, powdered and mixed in cow gee is applied.
- Leaf paste boiled in oil cures sciatica and rheumatic pains.
- One leaf eaten raw with one pepper corn first thing every morning for 3 to 7 days cures urinary stones.
- The leaves can be used raw for making chutneys or tamblis.
- Aloe Vera
The aloe Vera grows only under the sun with well drained, dry or moist soil. Although the plant tastes like a turd, it’s still edible. The sap from aloe vera is extremely useful to speed up the healing & reducing the risk of infections for :
- Reducing inflammation
Apart from its external use on the skin, aloe vera is also taken internally in the treatment of:
- ulcerative colitis (drinking aloe vera juice)
- chronic constipation
- poor appetite
- Digestive problems.
- It helps in detoxifying the body.
- Aloe Vera combined with honey can help calm the nerves and enhance good sleep.
5. Dracaena arborea
Local names: peregun in yoruba, and odo in Igbo.
Dracaena arborea is a specie of Dracaena, commonly known as dragon tree. It is an elegant ornamental tree that grows up to 20m tall with deep green thick leaves.
It is found in semi arid deserts and is tropical perennials.
Health Benefits and medical uses of Dracaena arborea
Dracaena is one of the most effective houseplants in air purification. It helps remove formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and carbon dioxide. These are chemicals linked with several health problems among them headaches, respiratory problems, anemia, marrow disease, kidney disease among others.
Dracaena arborea is medically known to be useful in the treatment of diabetes-induced testicular dysfunction.
The roots of this plant are used in treating abdominal pains. See other hidden benefits of this great plant
You must have used basil lot many times in food, but have you ever tried it to heal flatulence? It has the power to treat:
- Lack of appetite
- Stomach gas
7. Cashew tree
Cashew nut tree which is botanically called “Anacardium occidentale” is a tropical tree of 12 m high that produces cashew seed and cashew apple. The cashew seeds are used in snacking.
Fact: Nigeria was the second largest producer of cashew nuts in 2013.
The bark, seeds and twigs are used for medicinal purposes.
Health benefits and medicinal uses of cashew tree
- The twig of the tree is used as chewing sticks that helps with mouth thrush, sore gums and toothache.
- The extract from the bark is an efficient natural remedy for malaria fever.
- The bark of the cashew plant is an effective contraceptive. This has been used as a decoction to prevent pregnancy.
- An infusion can be made from the leaves and used to cure nasal congestion.
8. Cheese Wood/Plant
Local names: ahun (Yoruba) and, egbuora (Igbo).The scientific name is Aistonia boonei De Wild. It is also called stool wood or pattern wood.
It is a tall forest tree that grows up to 45 meters tall. The leaves are borne in whorls at the nodes, the leaf shape is oblanceolate. The bark is grayish-green or Grey and rough.
Health benefits and medicinal uses of Aistonia boonei
- It is widely used as a febrifuge, for fever.
- It contains an important alkaloid chemical called echitamine that has a lot of pharmacological uses.
- The bark, leaves and roots are all used to relieve rheumatic pain.
- The leaves, when pulped to a mash, are applied topically to reduce edemas.
9. Neem Plant
Local names: Dogonyaro (Hausa) Ocho onye ogwo (Igbo)
Neem is a tree. The bark, leaves, and seeds are used to make medicine. Less frequently, the root, flower, and fruit are also used.
- Health Benefits
Neem leaf is used for leprosy, eye disorders, bloody nose, intestinal worms, stomach upset, loss of appetite, skin ulcers, diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), fever, diabetes, gum disease (gingivitis), and liver problems. The leaf is also used for birth control and to cause abortions.
- The bark is used for malaria, stomach and intestinal ulcers, skin diseases, pain, and fever.
- The flower is used for reducing bile, controlling phlegm, and treating intestinal worms.
- The fruit is used for hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, urinary tract disorders, bloody nose, phlegm, eye disorders, diabetes, wounds, and leprosy.
- Neem twigs are used for cough, asthma, hemorrhoids, intestinal worms, low sperm levels, urinary disorders, and diabetes. People in the tropics sometimes chew neem twigs instead of using toothbrushes, but this can cause illness; neem twigs are often contaminated with fungi within 2 weeks of harvest and should be avoided.
- The seed and seed oil are used for leprosy and intestinal worms. They are also used for birth control and to cause abortions.
- The stem, root bark, and fruit are used as a tonic and astringent.
- Some people apply neem directly to the skin to treat head lice, skin diseases, wounds, and skin ulcers; as a mosquito repellent; and as a skin softener.
- Inside the vagina, neem is used for birth control.
- Please, articles is subject to further updates especially in the areas of Nigerian different local names for the herbs. Therefore, helpful contributions are solicited. Kindly use the comment box below.
- Do you have any question(s) maybe on how to prepare a particular herbal remedy? Feel free to drop your comments in the comment box; as we shall give you a reply soon. Thanks.