Africa Yellow Pages
1. AFRICAN PLANTS
The African climate is diverse, containing a rainforest in the center of the continent where it’s hot and wet and two large deserts, the Sahara and the Kalahari. A vast savanna surrounds the rainforest turning into the Steppes, where the temperatures are hot and rain falls in the summer months only. A Mediterranean climate is found on the southern and northern tips of Africa. So, it’s no surprise that Africa has equally diverse plant life.
African Medicinal Plants
In Africa, traditional healers and remedies made from plants play an important role in the health of millions of people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the definition of traditional medicine may be summarized as the sum total of all the knowledge and practical, whether explicable or not, used in the diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical, mental or social imbalance and relying exclusively on practical experience and observation handed down from generation to generation, whether verbally or in writing. Traditional medicine might also be considered as a solid amalgamation of dynamic medical known-how and ancestral experience.
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African Cosmetics Plants in International Trade
People are utterly reliant on plants for their survival, yet few appreciate that many of the consumer products in common use—ranging from herbal remedies, food and drink to cosmetics, health supplements and even furniture—derive from wild harvested plants.
Botanical name: Aloe Ferox
Botanical description: Single stemmed 2-meter-high succulent similar to aloe vera with tall 1-meter-high bright red flowers and yellow-green thick large fleshy leaves; mainly found in the wild, but, as it is a CITES protected plant, it is increasingly cultivated for medicine and food. The fleshy leaves are dried traditionally and sold as whole leaf powder.
Source: South Africa (Eastern Cape)
Use and properties: The exudate is tapped to produce a resin, which, when refined, is used to produce aloin (barbaloin), a well-known laxative drug, and as a bitter tonic; the gel is used against burns and for its wound healing properties. The gel is also used in health drinks and sports beverages.
Phytochemistry: The leaf exudate produces anthraquinones, mainly aloin A and B, while the leaf gel produces polysaccharides and glycoproteins similar to aloe vera.
Botanical name: Commiphora Myrrha
Botanical description: Gum resin is extracted from many commiphora species, including true myrrh and sweet myrrh (Opoponax); all are small thorny deciduous trees around 3 meters high.
Source: Found in semiarid regions of Ethiopia, Somalia and Northern Kenya
Use and properties: The oleoresin gum that exudes naturally from the bark is used as a traditional medicine, mainly topically, to treat mouth and throat infections, toothache, and as an antibiotic to stop bleeding and swelling; as a cosmetic, its wound healing, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties are widely used.
Phytochemistry: Essential oil and polysaccharides; the oil contains 50 percent + furanoeudesma-1,3–diene.
Botanical name: Adansonia Digitata
Botanical description: Massive 15-meter tropical tree with a huge, up to 20 meters, round trunk and large powdery drooping fruits, often known as upside down tree
Source: Sahelian West, Central and East Africa
Use and properties: All parts of this tree are used for food, medicine or furniture; Baobab seed oil is now widely used in cosmetics; the fruit pulp contains ascorbic acid, tartaric acid and water-soluble pectins, which are widely used in traditional cuisine
Phytochemistry: Antioxidant activity similar to grape seed extract; anti-inflammatory; antipyretic high in omega-3, antioxidants and vitamin A, D and C for lip balms and hand creams
Botanical name: Agathosma Betulina
Botanical description: Woody shrub with white-purple flowers, whose fresh leaves with strong aroma are used in traditional medicine and some cosmetic products.
Source: Western Cape, South Africa
Use and properties: Diuretic, against kidney and bladder ailments but also applied to wounds and bruises; traditionally used by the Hottentots for anointing their bodies
Phytochemistry: Essential oil rich in camphor, such as diosphenol, limonene and isomenthone.
Botanical name: Bulbine Frutescens
Botanical description: A small green succulent herb with spike leaves that produce a colorless gel.
Source: South Africa
Use and properties: Leaves are used as a traditional medicine, particularly for burns and itching; the gel, which is obtained from the leaves, is used in a similar way as aloe vera gel, as a burn remedy to heal damaged and raw skin.
Phytochemistry: Polysaccharides and mucilages with anti-inflammatory properties
Botanical name: Boswellia sacra
Botanical description: A 3–4-meter-high tree that grows in rock outcrops of north Eastern Africa.
Source: Somalia, Ethiopia, Socotra
Use and properties: As incense, perfume and cosmetic ingredient. As a medicine, it is an expectorant, analgesic and sedative. Oil is used in aromatherapy to relieve tension and in cosmetics as an anti-inflammatory and to sooth the skin.
Phytochemistry: Essential oil, mucilages and triterpenoids, particularly boswellic acid
Botanical name: Acacia Senegal
Botanical description: A 6-meter-high tree with tasteless and odorless resin that exudes from the bark.
Source: Sahelian region of Africa
Use and properties: Topically as a moisturizer/emollient and as an antibiotic to protect skin and mucosa from bacterial and fungal infections.
Phytochemistry: Polysaccharide, particularly arabinose
Botanical name: Harungana Madagascariensis
Botanical description: Evergreen shrub or small tree 4 meters high.
Source: Southern Africa, Madagascar
Use and properties: Bark and leaves are used traditionally to treat stomach ailments. Also applied topically to the skin to prevent bleeding, itching and even against leprosy
Phytochemistry: Contains anthracenes, phytosterols and tannins. The drug exhibits anthelmintic and abortive properties.
Botanical name: Cyclopia genistoides
Botanical description: Woody bush, 1.2 meters high with dark yellow flowers and spiky green leaves, originally wild harvested but now increasingly cultivated.
Source: Fynbos region of South Africa
Use and properties: Honeybush has been used traditionally as an herbal tea and a dietary supplement; also used as traditional treatment against urinary infection, diabetes and digestive ailments; increasing use in cosmetics due to its high antioxidant capacity.
Phytochemistry: Xanthones (Mangiferin) antioxidants, isoflavones; it is the range of phenolic compounds which are known to have beneficial health and cosmetic effects.
Botanical name: Centella Asiatica
Botanical description: Small spreading perennial herb whose leaves are used in cosmetics and traditional medicine.
Source: Madagascar and India
Use and properties: Postoperative wound healing, removal of stretch marks, prevention of scar tissue formation, and a variety of skin enhancement cosmetic products.
Phytochemistry: Triterpinoid glycocides, especially asiaticoside, Asiatic acid and madecassic acid.
Botanical name: Kigelia africana
Botanical description: A 12-meter-high tree with long drooping sausage 1-meter-long hard fruits
Source: Southern Africa
Use and properties: Traditionally, the fruit powder is applied to sores and ulcers; commercial extracts of the fruit are used to treat sunburn, keratosis, eczema, psoriasis and skin depigmentation; fruit extracts are also used to firm breast and buttocks; also used against Solar Keratosis, especially on the face and hands.
Phytochemistry: The main active ingredient, kigelin, has been used in trials against melanomas, while the naphthoquinones are known to be responsible for their antiseptic qualities.
Shea Butter (Karite in French)
Botanical name: Vitellaria paradoxa
Botanical description: Formerly known as Butyrospermum parkii shea, shea is a deciduous tree usually 7–15 meters tall, but has reached 25 meters, and a trunk diameter of 2 meters; the shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which shea butter is extracted. The fallen nuts are collected from the ground, mainly by women, and cured by boiling in water; these nuts are then processed by large solvent extraction and refining plants in Africa and Europe or cracked, roasted and stirred by hand to produce the butter for food or cosmetic use.
Source: Savannah zones from Guinea through northern Ghana and Nigeria to Uganda; there are two major varieties of shea nut tree, namely Vitellaria paradoxa found in West Africa and V. nilotica, which is grown in southern Sudan and northern Uganda.
Use and properties: Shea butter is a cooking oil and vital source of fat for tens of thousands of people across Africa; shea is also a traditional medicine and a well-known beauty care product. More recently, it has been used in the western confectionary industry as a cocoa butter substitute and source of stearin. Shea butter is utilized as an emollient in creams, sunscreens, and as a cure for burns and muscle pains.
Phytochemistry: The fatty acid profile of shea butter consists of mainly five prime fatty acids: arachidic, linoleic, palmitic, oleic and stearic fatty acids; all aid in the protection and revitalization of damaged hair and skin. The chemical Allantoin stimulates multiplication of healthy tissues in ulcerous injuries.
Botanical name: Securidaca longepedunculata
Botanical description: Tropical tree, 6 meters high whose roots and root bark are used as traditional medicine.
Source: Central Equatorial Africa
Use and properties: Extracts are used against headache, toothache and topically against rheumatic pain and as a wound healing agent.
Phytochemistry: Essential oil contains methyl salicylate with anti-inflammatory and counter irritant properties.
Yellow Plum, Hog Plum
Botanical name: Ximenia americana
Botanical description: Large bush or small tree with spine-tipped branchlets found in acacia forest areas of Southern Africa; flowers are pale in color, and fruits are lemon-yellow or orange-red
Source: Southern Africa
Use and properties: The fruits are used as juice, jams and jellies or liquor. Kernel oil is used as a vegetable oil; ximenia kernel oil is also utilized as a lipstick; lip balm; as an emollient; in the manufacture of anti-aging cosmetic products; conditioner; shampoo for brittle, damaged, dry hair; as eyeliners; and as an anti-acne agent in skin-care products.
Roots treat skin problems, headaches, leprosy, hemorrhoids, sexually transmitted diseases, guinea worm, sleeping sickness, edema, and act as an antidote to poison. The fruit is useful in treating habitual constipation. The bark is used in decoction, dried or powdered as a cicatrizant, and applied to skin ulcers.
Phytochemistry: Ximenia possess terpenoids, saponins, cardiac glycoside, alkaloids, anthraquinones, flavonoids, and tannins; ximenynic acid is believed to be the active ingredient in Ximenia oil, a product increasingly used as an emollient.
2. AFRICAN INSTITUTIONS
- Kenya Institute of Alternative Medicine
- Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)
- Kenya School of Integrated Medicine (KSIM)
- Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
- Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)
- Kenya Institute of Organic Farming, Nairobi
Nairobi Nutrition, Obesity & Digestive Clinic KMA Centre, Upperhill
Address: P.O. Box 204 -00202 Nairobi, Kenya
One Health Medical Centre
Dr Michelle Muhanda, CEO
Address: Hurlingham Shopping Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
Dr. Ameet Aggarwal
Address: 101 Mayani Road, Nairobi
Dr. Saningo Richard ND, DIPM
Natures Way Clinic
Address: P.O. Box 4760, Nairobi
Robert Trappes – Lomax
Maasaini Health Farm and Mobile Spa
Nutrifit Options, Organic Food, Herbs and Therapeutic Food
Ojay Greene Limited
Yvette Atieno Ondachi
Parvis Akusi Organics
Blue Saphire Solutions
Karimi Nkirote M’mbijiwe, Media Advocacy on Indigenous Plants
Nova Morgan – Woods, Health and Wellness Services
Address: P.O. Box 95764 Mombasa
Camerafrica Consultants Ltd
Edward Wanyonyi, Managing Director
Insight Health Advisors
Address: P.O. Box 29775- 00202, Nairobi, Kenya
KATARINA Cosmetic Collections
Ingrid Cherotich Opira, Director/CEO
Life Mentors Ltd
Francis Kathambana, Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Coach
Phone: 254 774962447
Dr. James Njoroge, Public Health Specialist (with additional expertise on alternative treatment)
Sues Wellness Centre and Health Food Store
Whole and Well Living
Mercy Mwende Mutuku, Health and Wellness Coach
Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Technical University of Kenya
Dr. Mary LN Mugambi, PhD, Lecturer, Radio Presenter, Health Talk Radio Africa
Neo Nutrition Solutions Limited
Banice Kendi Mugo, CEO
Naruceth Nutrition Services, Nutrition Consortium
Address: P.O. Box 19305- 00202 Nairobi, Kenya
Total Lifestyle Change (TLC) Nutrition and Lifestyle Centre
Lina Njoroge, Founder CEO
3. AFRICAN TRADITIONAL TREATMENTS
Traditional African medicine is an alternative medicine discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions, such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, cholera, most venereal diseases, epilepsy, asthma, eczema, fever, anxiety, depression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract infections, gout, and healing of wounds and burns and even Ebola.
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The Global Wellness Institute serves as an umbrella organization for numerous Initiatives, that are independently chaired and run. The resources, editorial, research and opinions presented by the Initiatives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Global Wellness Institute.