Health News

Nigerian Scientists Validate Herbs To Treat Arthritis

Research on herbal cures, effective for the management of arthritis has grown in recent years in a bid to find leads for new bioactive compounds.

Knowledge about the use of individual plants for management of arthritis varies between localities in Africa and scientific validation of their uses may increase the range of plant species available for management of arthritis.

In a fresh survey, scientists found Annona senegalensis (African Custard apple) and Boswellia dalziellii (Frankincense tree) were atop the list of plants commonly used to manage arthritis in some parts of Nigeria.

The scientists had documented and validated 30 medicinal plants used traditionally in North-West Nigeria for the management of arthritis, and the leaves were the most normally used plant part given as oral decoctions.

This research study was documented in the 2018 edition of the South African Journal of Botany by T. Salihu; J.O. Olukunle; O.T. Adenubi from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, in collaboration with C. Mbaoji and M.H. Zarma from the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (FMST), Victoria Island, Lagos State.

Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability among millions of people in Nigeria, and the limitations in the use of conventional painkiller drugs for the management of arthritis include their exorbitant costs, adverse effects and inability to permanently resolve the cases. Thus: the need for an alternative mean.

Of the 30 plant species used in the management of arthritis, approximately 80% have proven analgesic and/or anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, approximately 66% were found to have similar ethnomedicinal claims in some other regions of the world.

Information collected in this study included:

  • the plant species and parts used
  • common/vernacular names of the plants,
  • methods of preparation/administration and
  • Toxicity of the plant species.

An extensive literature survey was thereafter done to check the veracity of the claims, and a total of 30 plant species belonging to 18 plant families were documented. The leaves were the most commonly used plant part given as oral decoctions.

As it turns out, Annona senegalensis and Boswellia dalziellii were the plant species with the highest relative frequency of citation.

Roughly 66% of the listed plant species were found to have similar ethnomedicinal uses in some other African states and 85 percent have been reported to be pharmacologically active in the literature surveyed.

The list of the plants used for treatments of arthritis included:

  • Terminalia avicennioides,
  • Anacardium occidentale (Cashew tree)
  • Combretum glutinosum (Bois d’elephant)
  • Lemongrass,
  • Chinese date,
  • Bombax costatum (Silk cotton tree);
  • Dichrostachys cinereal (Sicklebush)
  • Echinochloa pyrimidalis (Antelope grass)
  • Hygrophila auriculata (Indian paintbrush);
  • Mangifera indica (Mango);
  • Pistia stratiotes (Water lettuce);
  • Hyphaene thebaica (Gingerbread tree);
  • Boscia senegalensis (Senegal boscia);
  • Ipomea asarifolia (Ginger-leaf morning glory);
  • Cucurbita pepo (Pumpkin);
  • African locust bean tree;
  • Bombax costatum (Silk cotton tree) and
  • Musa acuminate (banana).

Some of the plants reported in this study such as Parkia biglobosa have been found to have similar ethnomedicinal uses in Ivory Coast and Mali, and Cymbopogon citratus is used for similar purposes in Guangdong, China, and Brazil.

Combretum glutinosum was found to be used by Senegalese for the management of rheumatoid arthritis, and the correlation of the traditional uses of some of the listed plant species with their known chemical and medicinal constituents lends credence to some of the ethnomedicinal claims.

Several herbal-based medicines are commercially available; however, a major challenge to the use of these remedies is the lack of proper standardization, safety measures, quality control, as well as contamination with conventional medicines.

According to the researchers, the study shows that the use of herbal remedies in the management of arthritis is important in the indigenous healthcare management system in North-West Nigeria.

However, it is recommended that all plant-based substances be scientifically validated for their claimed efficacy, safety and toxicity, and there is a need for a multidisciplinary approach to retain this valuable information on herbal remedies for validation and development into future medications.”

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