Medicinal Plants of Sudan and Their Uses – Part 2

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Medicinal Plants of Sudan and their uses – part 2 is a continuation of part 1. The information is from the paper ‘Gems from traditional north-African medicine: medicinal and aromatic plants from Sudan’ by Hassan K HALID, Wail Elsadig A BDALLA, Haider A BDELGADIR, Till O PATZ, b and Thomas E FFERTH.

Table III. Plants used in veterinary medicine.

Part Used
Acacia albida (Fabaceae, subfamily: Mimosoideae)BarkGoat diarrhea
Acacia nilotica (Fabaceae, subfamily: Mimosoideae)FruitFor rinderpest / diarrhea
Albizzia anthelmintica (Fabaceae, subfamily: Mimosoideae)BarkHelmintic diseases
Albizzia sericocephala (Fabaceae, subfamily: Mimosoideae)BarkSwollen limbs
Anogeissus schimperi (Combretaceae)Bark
Artemisia herba-alba (Asteraceae)HerbSpasms andintestinal infections
Balanites aegyptiaca (Balantiaceae)FruitEye infections, trypanosomal infections
Bauhinia sp. (Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae)LeavesCurl of limbs
Cadaba farinosa (Capparaceae)LeavesFlatulence
Cissus quadrangularis (Ampelidaceae)Whole plantUterus post abortion, wounds
Cordia ovalis, C. rothii, C. sinensis (Boraginacae)Root and stem barkItchy skin, retained placenta
Citrullus coloynthis (Cucurbitaceae)Tar from seedsScabies
Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae)SeedsHelmintic diseases
Cuminum cyminum (Ranunculaceae)FruitSpasms and intestinal infections
Cymbopogon nervatus (Poaceae)OilEctoparasites
Diospyros mespiliformis (Ebenaceae)BarkAloric – diarrhea
Euphorbia sp. (Euphorbiaceae)Whole plantDeny (calf ill, bloat)
Heliotropium strigosum (Boraginaceae)Whole plantHelmintic diseases
Gardenia lutea (Rubiaceae)FruitConstipation, bloat in calves
Ipomoea aquatica (Convolvulaceae)LeavesAgainst lice
Maerua angolensis (Capparaceae)RootsBloat and pneumonia
Nauclea latifolia (Rubiaceae)Flowers and BarkSwollen knees
Peganum harmala (Zygophyllaceae)FruitEndoparasites


Chemical Constituents

5 Traditional Uses and Chemical Constituents of Sudanese Medicinal Plants

Gum ArabicaGum Arabica is the dried exudation from the stem and branches of Acacia senegal (Leguminosae/Fabaceae). This thorny tree both grows in the wild and is cultivated in Sudan as well as west and central Africa. Habitat: The plant grows in sandy and clay-like soil in plains and short grass savannas, forming a continuous belt from east to west in central Sudan. It is very common in the western sand plains of Kordofan and Darfur. Constituents: The dried gum consists almost entirely of magnesium, calcium and potassium salts of glycosidal acid, known as Arabic acid, and also the enzyme oxidase, but has no or very few starch granules. Traditional use: Gum Arabica is used as binder and emulsifying agent, as well as an agent to increase the viscosity of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Furthermore, it is an ingredient in soft drink syrups, gummy candies and sweets.
Aloes: Aloe spp. varieties (Xanthorrhoeaceae/Aloaceae)Aloes: Aloe spp. varieties (Xanthorrhoeaceae/Aloaceae) grow in the wild in Sudan. Aloe crassipes is common in north- ern and eastern Sudan, while A. sinkatana is common in the east (Erkawit). Habitat: Aloes grow on sandy lowland plains of semi-deserts and the Red Sea hills. Constituents: The plants containanthraquinone derivatives (Aloin). Aloe emodialso contains the glycoside barbolin. Traditional use: The dried mucilaginous substance obtained from leaves is used in small doses as a laxative.
Balanite: Heglig (Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del., Balantiaceae)Balanite: Heglig (Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del., Balantiaceae) is a semi-desert tree growing in the wild in south Kordofan, Darfur and Central Sudan. Habitat: This is a preva- lent plant, which is common on the dark cracking clays of central Sudan.It is often associated with Acacia seyal on short grass savannas. Constituents: The root contains steroidal sapogenins, whereas the bulb contains sugars and saponins. The leaves and fruit contain diosgenin while the kernel with a high oil contents and valuable protein combination. Traditional use: The maceration of the fruit and seeds is used as a laxative and anthelmintic. It is used in food industry, for animal feed and in the pharmaceutical industry as a precursor in production.
Basil: Ocimum basilicum L. (Labiatae/Lamiaceae)Basil: Ocimum basilicum L. (Labiatae/Lamiaceae). Basil is an annual herb native to Asia and the Middle East and is common in Sudan. Habitat: Basil grows in the wild and is also cultivated in northern and central Sudan, especially near streams. Constituents: Volatile oil containing cineol, pinene, methyl chavicol, d-camphor and ocimene. Traditional use: The essential oil obtained by distillation is used in perfumery and in food industry as aromatic and flavouring agent.
Bitter Apple: Citrullus colocynthis L. (Cucurbitaceae)Bitter Apple: Citrullus colocynthis L. (Cucurbitaceae) is a monoecious, perennial vine, abundant in Asia and Africa. It grows in the wild in Sudan. Habitat: Bitter apple grows on sandy soil in the semi desert. The ripe fruits are collected in autumn, and deprived of their seeds and epicarp by peeling. Constituents: The plants contain an alkaloid, amorphous resin, a crystalline alcohol, citrullal, the glycoside of cucurbitin, oils and bitter principles. Traditional use: Bitter apple is used as a gastrointestinal stimulant or irritant. It is also a powerful purgative acting as a hydrogogue cathartic. In folk medicine, bitter apple is used as anti-rheumatic.
Camels hay: Cymbopogon proximus Stapf. (Poaceae)Camels hay: Cymbopogon proximus Stapf. (Poaceae) is an ascending, densely tufted perennial grass common in northern and central Sudan. Habitat: It is a perennial herb, grown in variable soils in moist areas during the rainy season. It is main- tained as perennial plant in irrigated areas. Constituents: A bitter oleo resin, a toxic volatile oil and a saponin. Traditional use: It is extensively used as folk medicine to promote diuresis, to alleviate colic pain and as antipyretic plant against fever.
Datura: Datura species (D. stramonium, D. metel, D. innoxia, Solanaceae)Datura: Datura species (D. stramonium, D. metel, D. innoxia, Solanaceae) are annual herbs native to North America that have been introduced to other parts of the world. Daturais wide-spread in Sudan. Habitat: Grows as a weed in northern and central Sudan on a wide range of soils throughout the year. Constituents: Datura plants contain alkaloids such as hyoscine and hyoscyamine, as well as atropine. Traditional use: it is a source of commercial hyoscyamine.
Egyptian henbane: (Hyoscyamus muticus L., Solanaceae)Egyptian henbane: (Hyoscyamus muticus L., Solanaceae) is a perennial herb grown in northern Sudan. Habitat: It grows in Sudan in a wide range of soils. It is sown all over the year. Constituents: Hyoscyamine, atropine and hyoscine. Traditional use: It is used as cerebral and spinal sedative.Egyptian henbane is also applied as purgative and is used against colic.
Eucalyptus spp.: Eucalyptus globulus, (Myrtaceae)Eucalyptus spp.: Eucalyptus globulus, (Myrtaceae) it is one of the tallest trees known. It is native to Australia and is cultivated in Italy, Spain, Algeria and Egypt. Habitat: It grows in various soils. It has been planted in many locations in Sudan. Constituents: Eucalyptus contains 3 to 6 % volatile oils. Eucalyptus oil contains not less than 50 % cineole (euclyptol) and also tannin and a bitter principle. Traditional use: The leaves are used as an astringent in the form of cigarettes against asthma. The oil exerts antispasmodic, deodorant and counter-irritant effects.
Olibanum: Luban (Boswellia papyrifera, Burseraceae)Olibanum: Luban (Boswellia papyrifera, Burseraceae) is a small tree thatcontains schizogenous ducts in the bark with a resin known as olibanum or frankinscence. Habitat: Luban grows on rocky ground in high-rainfall regions of the savanna of Blue Nile, Gebel Garri, Upper Nile and Equatoria. Constituents: Luban contains resin, gum, and volatile oil. Traditional use: It is used to manufacture incense and as an ingredient in plasters and pastilles.
Sunt: (Acacia nilotica (L.) Willed.ex Del., Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae)Sunt: (Acacia nilotica (L.) Willed.ex Del., Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae) is a tree native to Sudan. Habitat: It is distributed along the Nile banks and its tributaries. Constituents: Polyphenolic compounds (ethyle gallate). Traditional use: Gum exudates are used as antidiarrhoetic.
Talih: (Acacia seyal Del., Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae)Talih: (Acacia seyal Del., Fabaceae, subfamily Mimosoideae) is a thorny small tree growing in Sudan and in west and central Africa. Habitat: It is widespread in regions of grass and woodland savanna and grows well on dry cracking clay. The variety fistula commonly grows in clay of seasonally wet depressions in central and eastern Sudan (East of the Nile) in deciduous forests. Constituents: The pods contain more than 20% proteins and are very nourishing for livestock. Traditional use: The wood is a fumigant for rheumatic pain. It is also used to protect women from fever after childbirth.
Tamrind: (Tamrindus indica L., Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae)Tamrind: (Tamrindus indica L., Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae) is indigenous to tropical Africa, but is cultivated in India, the East Indies and the West Indies. Habitat: Tamrindus grows near valleys and near termite mounds in the savanna in the central and southern parts of Sudan. Constituents: Tamrind contains free and combined organic acids (tartaric, malic, citric) acid potassium tartarate and 25-40% invert sugars. Traditional use: It is used as a gentle laxative and an acid refrigerant. Tamrind also has anti-malaria activity.

Aromatic Herbs

6 Distribution of Cultivated Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

AniseAnise, Aniseed: Aniseed is the fruit of Pimpinella anisum L. (Apiaceae). Anise is native to eastern Mediterranean region and was first cultivated in Egypt. It is now widely cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: It grows in light soil. The sowing is done in November and the harvest in April. Constituents: Aniseed contains 3% essential oil (Aniseed oil) with anethole as main component (90%), plus fatty oil, proteins, sugars and organic acids. Traditional use: The steam-distilled oil is an ingredient in carminative and expectorant medicines for children. The greatest quantities of anise however, are used in flavour liqueurs and baking and in perfumery.
Arghel: Solenostemma arghel (Del.) Hayne (Asclepidaceae)Arghel: Solenostemma arghel (Del.) Hayne (Asclepidaceae) is a herb grows wild in the Egyptian-Sudanese desert. It is also cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: Annual, perennial herb grows in light soils. The best sowing date is between June and July. The harvest occurs in October. It can be cultivated by seeds or cuttings. Constituents: It contains an acidic resin, a glycoside, a bitter principle, choline, phytosterols and amyrine in the lipid fraction. Traditional use: It is used in folk medicine as effective remedy against cough. Infusions of leaves are taken against cramps in gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.
Black cumin: (Nigella sativa L., Ranunculaceae)Black cumin: (Nigella sativa L., Ranunculaceae), is an herbaceous plant growing in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is extensively cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: An annual herbaceous plant, grown on moderately light soil. The best sowing date is November, the harvest is in April. Constituents: The ripe seeds have a camphor-like scent and bitterness, and also an aromatic taste. Their constituents include saponin, an essential oil, a bitter compound (nigelline) and tannins. Traditional use: It is used in cooking as substituent for pepper. It can be sprinkled on bread and cakes.
Bishop’s weedBishop’s weed is the dried fruit of Ammi majus L. (Apiaceae). It is an annual herbaceous plant commonly attaining one meter in height, and grows wild in Egypt and the Mediterranean. It is acclimatized and cultivated both in northern and central Sudan. Habitat: It grows on the Nile bank on different types of soils. The best sowing date is November and the harvest is in May. Constituents: Bishop’s weed contains ammoidin, ammidin (imperatorin) and magudin (bergaptene) besides oils and protein. Traditional use: It is used for treatment of leucoderma and skin diseases.
Capsicum: (Capsicum minimum Roxb., Solanaceae)Capsicum: (Capsicum minimum Roxb., Solanaceae) is an annual or biennial herb indigenous to tropical America, but cultivated in tropical Africa. Habitat: Different species and varieties grow and are being cultivated in the Darfur Province and Kasala Province in Sudan. Constituents: Capsicum contains up to 0.14% pungent principle capsicin, non-pungent alkaloids, starch, oils and vitamin C, especially in the fresh fruit. Traditional use: Capsicum is a stimulant and stomachic substance. It is mainly applied in the form of extracts, tinctures, ointments and plasters to treat rheumatism and sciatica.
Castor Oil (Ricinus communis L., Euphorbiaceae)Castor Oil (Ricinus communis L., Euphorbiaceae) is an annual herb in northern and central Europe and in the Mediterranean and a perennial tree in tropical countries. It is native to India and tropical Africa. Habitat: It grows on moderately heavy soils in a wide range of geographical regions in Sudan. It can be cultivated under a variety of climatic conditions. Constituents: Castor beans contain about 50 % oil, which can be extracted by a variety of processes, an extremely toxic albumin (ricin) and the alkaloid ricinine. Traditional use: Medicinally used as a drastic purgative. Also used in cosmetic preparations, lubricant and disinfectant.
Caraway (Carum carvi L., Apiaceae)Caraway (Carum carvi L., Apiaceae) is a biennial or perennial herb. It grows throughout Europe and is introduced and cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: It grows on wide range of soil in north and central Sudan. The best sowing date is November; harvest time is in April. Constituents: Its main constituents are essential oils (3-5 %) including carvone and limonene. Further constituents are proteins, starch, sugars and tannins. Traditional use: Caraway has stomachic, antispasmodic, carminative galactogogic, and anthelmintic properties. The fruit is widely used for flavouring foods such as bread, cheese, pickles and sauces.
Coriander seeds: Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L., Apiaceae)Coriander seeds: Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L., Apiaceae) is an annual herb native to southern and eastern Europe. It tolerates a wide range of different climatic condi- tions and is extensively cultivated in northern Sudan. Habitat: It grows on light soils. The best sowing date is November, and the harvest time is April. Constituents: Good quality seeds contain up to 0.07 % of essential oil. The principle constituent is dextrolinalol. Traditional use: Dried coriander is extensively used for flavouring of sausages, corned beef and similar meat products. Coriander seed can also be distilled to obtain essential oils and oleo resin.
CottonCotton: Oil is obtained from the seeds of several cultivated varieties of Gossypiumbarbadense (Malvaceae). It is an annual or biennial shrub. It is indigenous to the West Indies and is now cultivated in Sudan and other tropical and sub-tropical countries. Habitat: It is cultivated on light and heavy soils. The best sowing date is between June and July and the harvest time is in April and May. Constituents: Raw cotton contains 91% cellulose wax, oil, and fat. The oil contains 45% linoleic acid, 30% oleic acid, 20% palmitic acid, 3% stearic acid and 1% stearic and archidic acid. Traditional use: Absorbent cotton is used as protective material in surgery and dressings, filtering medium in pharmacy and as insulating material. The oil is used as solvent for injections and manufacturing of soaps.
Cumin Seed: Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L., Apiaceae)Cumin Seed: Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L., Apiaceae) is an annual herb, which is indigenous to upper Nile regions and is cultivated in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is extensively cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: It grows on moderate soils in central and northern Sudan. The best sowing date is in November and the harvest time is in April. Constituents: Volatile oils containing cuminic aldehyde. Traditional use: Cumin is a condiment, an agreeable aromatic and is also used in veterinary medicine.
Fennel: (Foeniculm vulgare Mill., Apiaceae)Fennel: (Foeniculm vulgare Mill., Apiaceae) is native to Sudan. It grows in gardens and as a field crop, but it is commercially cultivated only on a small scale in Sudan. Habitat: It is cultivated as biennial or short-lived perennial herb in small areas in northern and central Sudan. The best sowing date is in November and it is harvested in April. Constituents: The main constituents are essential oils (up to 6%) with anethole and fenchone. Further constituents include fatty oils, proteins, sugars and mucilage. Traditional use: The oil is used in Germany and other European countries for the flavouring of foods and liqueurs. It is also used in the perfumery industry. Pharmaceutically, it is used as aromatic and carminative.
Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graceum, Leguminosae/Fabaceae)Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graceum, Leguminosae/Fabaceae) is an annual herb probably indigenous to an area extending from Iran to northern India, but now it is cultivated in China, as well as northern and eastern Africa. It also grows well in Sudan. Habitat: The plant grows in northern and central Sudan on a wide range of soils. The best sowing date is in November and the harvest is in April. Constituents: The constituents of the seed include oil (about 70%), a mucilage and saponins (1–2%). It also contains proteins and vitamins. Traditional use: Fenugreek seed is generally found in most blends of curry powder, and can also be found in other foods. It also serves as source for sapogenin disogenin.
Garlic (Allium sativum L., Liliaceae/ Amaryllidaceae)Garlic (Allium sativum L., Liliaceae/ Amaryllidaceae) is a perennial herb indigenous to Mediterranean regions with a bulb divided into segments. It is cultivated in northern and central Sudan. Habitat: It grows on relatively light soil. The best sowing date is November and the harvest time is April. Constituents: Garlic contains volatile oil-containing diallyl sulphide and allylpropyl sulphide, the glycoside allin and the enzyme allisin. Traditional use: Garlic is an important antisep- tic. It also has hypotensive, anthelmintic, chloretic and expectorant properties. It is used to treat intestinal infection, hyper- tention, and arteriosclerosis.
Karkadeh: Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae)Karkadeh: Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae) grows naturally in southern Sudan and is cultivated in many parts of Sudan. Habitat: It grows on light soil in rain-fed areas. The best sowing dates are in June and July, and it is harvested in the rainy season in October and November. In irrigated areas, it can be harvested three times per year from December to January. Constituents: Sepals contain flavonoids, one of which is delphinidin. The plant also contains glycoside hivicin chloride, red pigments (gossipten and hibiscin) and phytosterolin and organic acids (malic, citric, tartaric, ascorbic and hibiscic acids). Seeds also contain high percentages of mucilage (> 60%) and oil. Traditional use: The ripe calyces are used for hot and cold beverages. Medicinally it is used as antispasmodic, hypotensive and antimicrobial agent and for relaxation of the uterine muscle.
KhellaKhella is the fruit of Ammi visnaga L. (Apiaceae), an annual herbaceous plant widely grown in the Mediterranean region. It is cultivated in northern and central Sudan. Habitat: It grows on different types of soils. The best month for sowing is November and the harvest is done in April. Constituents: It contains a bitter principle khellin, visnagin and khellol glycoside, oil and protein. Traditional use: It relaxes smooth muscles and lowers the urethral tonicity. A decoction is used to ease the passage of kidney calculus. It is the source of khellin.
HennaHenna: The dried leaves of Lawsonia inermis L. (Lytheraceae), a shrub growing in northern Africa and southern Asia. Habitat: It is a perennial shrub cultivated in many parts of Sudan, especially in northern and central Sudan on moderately light soil. It can be cultivated several times a year. Constituents: Henna contains lawasone, tannins, mucilage and fat. Traditional use: It is a dye for the hair, skin and nails. Medicinally it is used as a fungicide. It is also used for perfume and cosmetics as well as soap.
SesameSesame oil is obtained from the seeds of one or more of the cultivated varieties of Sesamum indicum L. (Pedaliaceae). It is an annual herb, cultivated as a cash crop in eastern and central Sudan. Habitat: It is grown in eastern and central parts of Su- dan. The best sowing dates are in June and July and the oil is harvested in October and November. Constituents: Sesamum seed oil is composed of equal amounts of linoleic acid and oleic acid (40%), 9 % palmitic acid and 4 % stearic acid. It contains a phenolic compound known as sesamol which is present in the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. Traditional use: It is used as a solvent for intramuscular injections. It has nutritive, laxative, demulcent and emollient properties.
SennaSenna (Senna alexandrina Mill.., Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpiniaceae) is a perennial herb, known in commerce as Alexandrian senna. It is indigenous to tropical Africa and it grows wild as well as being cultivated in Sudan. Habitat: It grows on wide range of soils all over Sudan. The best sowing dates fall in June and July. It can be harvested two times a year, after autumn in moist areas and after rainfall in irrigated areas. Constituents: The leaves contain sennosides, aloe-emodin and rhein. Traditional use: The water extract of leaves and fruit is taken as a laxative.
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