For hundreds of years, the inhabitants of Zimbabwe and Malawi, in Southern Africa, have relied on the ‘Sausage tree’ to safeguard their health and help treat numerous ailments.
The name ‘sausage’ was bestowed on the Kigelia africana tree, because of its huge sausage-shaped fruits that hang from long stalks. The fruit pods can reach up to a staggering 1 metre in length, and weigh a hefty 5-10kgs.
Like the roots and bark of this amazing tree, the fruits possess powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer actions – and at last modern medicine is harnessing these therapeutic properties.
HSI Panel member, Geraldine Mitton, has been researching a new ointment, which is derived from the bark of Kigelia africana. Her findings have uncovered a wide-range of therapeutic uses for this ointment – treating everything from skin infections and inflammatory conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, to reversing the effects of sun-damaged skin, age or liver spots and pigmentation, in addition to accelerating wound healing.
Indeed, many elderly people in Southern Africa use kigelia ointment to help banish wrinkles and even treat pre-cancerous lesions on the face and arms – thereby avoiding more drastic procedures like surgery.
Psoriasis: Active components can help fight off harmful disease-causing organisms
Recently, researchers from King’s College Hospital in London and scientists from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have been working closely with scientists at the University of Natal in South Africa, to confirm the claims made for the traditional medicinal powers of the ‘sausage tree’.
In addition, Dr Akunyili and colleagues from the University of Nigeria have conducted tests using the stembark of the Kigelia tree to establish the potency of its anti-bacterial properties. They found that the bark contains chemicals known as iridoids, which are able to block the growth of harmful bacteria.
These studies revealed that the kigelia stembark was able to inhibit a number of harmful micro-organisms. They include: Escherichia coli (causes abscesses), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (involved in skin sepsis and infections), Staphylococcus aureus (causes impetigo and skin abscesses) and Candida albicans (a fungal organism that causes thrush).
In 1994, Dr Houghton and colleagues from the Department of Pharmacy, King’s College London, tested the activity of extracts of Kigelia against melanoma cells (a tumour of pigmented skin cells, which can develop into malignant melanoma – the potentially fatal form of skin cancer). Using an extract of Kigelia bark they found that it inhibited the growth of cultured melanoma cells to a ‘significant’ degree.
Several years later, in 2000, researchers from the same Department took crude extracts of Kigelia stem bark and fruit, and isolated the components norviburtinol and isopinnatal. They were found to have cytotoxic (cell-destroying) effects on melanoma cells and malignant melanoma cells.
Psoriasis: Effective relief from psoriasis and eczema
Many sufferers of chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis and eczema, have benefited from kigelia ointment. Its soothing action brings much-needed relief from itchiness, dryness, flaking skin and redness, caused by these conditions.
Some psoriasis sufferers have noticed a dramatic improvement after using Kigelia ointment. The disease causes their skin to produce new cells at seven times the rate of normal skin. Scientists cannot be sure, but they believe that Kigelia ‘damps down’ this overactivity.
Other researchers at the University of Zimbabwe have tested the anti-inflammatory properties of Sausage tree bark, extracts and fruit, and discovered mild anti-inflammatory properties. Its effect on wound healing showed that it causes early rapid closure of small wounds (3 cms) but is not effective for larger wounds (more than 6 cms).
Psoriasis: How to use the cream for best results
Please be aware that kigelia ointment is available to take in the UK under the product name Zambesia Botanica. When using Zambesia Botanica ointment for the first time, you should apply it to a small area of your arm as a patch test first. Sensitivity to the product is extremely rare, but can occur with any product. If you do not experience any irritation to the preparation, apply the cream sparingly to the face or body twice daily, for as long as necessary.
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1.Akunyili DN et al. Antimicrobial activities of stembark of Kigelia pinnata. J Ethnopharmacol 1991 Dec;35 (2) :173-7
2. Houghton PJ et al. Activity of extracts of Kigelia pinnata against melanoma cells. Planta Med 1994 Oct; 60 (5): 430-3
3. Houghton PJ, Jackson SJ et al Cytotoxicity of norviburtinal and isopinnatal from Kigelai pinnata againsy cancer cell lines. Planta Med 2000 Dec; 66 (8): 758-61
4. Mazanhi T. Anti-inflammatory activity of Kigelia extract of bark and fruit. University of Zimbabwe 1998 Maisiri T Effect of Kigelia on deep wound healing University of Zimbabwe 1998