Herbs & Plants

Ensete ventricosum

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Botanical Name : Ensete ventricosum
Family: Musaceae
Genus: Ensete
Species: E. ventricosum
Order: Zingiberales

Synonyms: Ensete edule – Bruce. ex Horan.Musa arnoldiana De Wild., Musa ventricosa Welw. and Musa ensete J. F. Gmel

Common Names: False Banana, Ethiopian Banana, Abyssinian Banana

Habitat : Ensete ventricosum occurs along the Eastern Edge of the Great African Plateau, extending northwards from Transvaal in South Africa through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to Ethiopia, and west to the Democratic Republic of Congo, being found in high rainfall forests on mountains, and along forested ravines and streams.

Ensete ventricosum in an evergreen Perennial large non-woody tree (technically a gigantic herb) up to 6m tall, it has a stout trunk of tightly overlapping leaf bases, and large banana-like leaf blades of up to 5m x 1m with a salmon-pink midrib. The flowers, which only occur once from the centre of the tree at the end of the tree’s life, are in massive pendant thyrses covered by equally large pink bracts. The fruits are similar to those of the domestic banana, are edible but insipid, with hard, black, rounded seeds. The plant is quick-growing and some colourful varieties are widely cultivated as an ornamental. After flowering the plant dies back. The young and tender tissues in the centre or heart of the tree (the growing point) may be cooked and eaten, being tasty and nutritious and very like the core of palms and cycads

You may click to see the pictures


Ensete ventricosum
Ensete ventricosum (Photo credit: pris.sears)

It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Requires a very sheltered sunny position in a fertile moisture-retentive soil. This species is not very hardy in Britain but it succeeds outdoors on the Scilly Islands and is sometimes used in sub-tropical bedding. Plants can survive light frosts but they require ample shelter from the wind. It should be possible to grow plants in tubs, keeping them outdoors in the summer and bringing them into a greenhouse or conservatory in the winter. The leaves can be up to 6 metres long.

Sow the large seed in individual pots in a heated greenhouse at any time of the year. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water beforehand. Germination should take place within 3 months. Grow on the plants for at least a couple of winters in the greenhouse before attempting to grow them outdoors. Division of suckers in spring. Try to get as much of the sucker’s roots out as possible without disturbing the main plant too much. Pot the suckers up and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse until they are established.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root; Seed; Stem.

The chopped and grated pulp of the corms and leaf sheaths is fermented and used as a flour in making kocho bread. 100% kocho flour or a mixture of kocho and other cereal flours may be used. It is said to taste like a good quality bread. The endosperm of the seed is consumed as a food. The base of the flower stalk is edible cooked.

The species has been cultivated in Ethiopia for thousands of years where it is still considered to be one of the most important and widely cultivated root crops. The pseudostems, corms and stems of flowering branches are used to make a starchy product which is fermented in a pit and then made into a kind of pancake, bread, and porridge.

“Enset provides more amount of foodstuff per unit area than most cereals. It is estimated that 40 to 60 enset plants occupying 250-375 sq. meters can provide enough food for a family of 5 to 6 people.” – Country Information Brief.

(In Ethiopia, more than 150 000 ha are cultivated for the starchy staple food prepared from the pulverised trunk and inflorescence stalk. Fermenting these pulverised parts results in a food called ‘kocho’. ‘Bulla’ is made from the liquid squeezed out of the mixture and sometimes eaten as a porridge, while the remaining solids are suitable for consumption after a settling period of some days. Mixed kocho and bulla can be kneaded into dough, then flattened and baked over a fire. Kocho is in places regarded as a delicacy, suitable for serving at feasts and ceremonies such as weddings, when wheat flour is added. The fresh corm is cooked like potatoes before eating. Dry kocho and bulla are energy-rich and produce from 1400 to 2000kJ per 100g.)

Medicinal Uses:
The ensete pseudostem has medicinal uses.People of south Africa make herbal medicines to get relieve from different ailments.


Other Uses:

The fibre obtained from the plant is very good quality fibre, suitable for ropes, twine, baskets, and general weaving, is obtained from the leaves. Dried leaf-sheaths are used as packing material, serving the same function as Western foam plastic and polystyrene. The fibre obtained from the plant is very good quality fibre, suitable for ropes, twine, baskets, and general weaving, is obtained from the leaves. Dried leaf-sheaths are used as packing material, serving the same function as Western foam plastic and polystyrene.  Also used for animal fodder, shade, adornment, roof thatch, and dye. The seeds are used as beads for ornamentation.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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Herbs & Plants

Milicia excelsa

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Botanical Name :Milicia excelsa
Family: Moraceae
Genus: Milicia
Species: M. excelsa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Chlorophora excelsa (Welw.) Benth., C. alba A. Chev., C. tenuifolia Engl., Maclura excelsa (Welw.) Bureau, Milicia africana Sim, Morus excelsa Welw.

Common Name:African Teak,ioko (Hausa); iroko (Yoruba); mvule (Swahili); rock-elm (Eng.);

Habitat :Milicia excelsa is native to Africa. It is found in Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe

A large deciduous forest  tree up to 50 m tall and with a diameter up to 10 m. The bole is straight and cylindrical, branch-less up to 20 m or more. Bark is dark, fairly rough and fl aking off in small scales but rarely fi ssured. When cut, the slash exudes white latex. The crown is um- brella-shaped and fairly fl at at the top. Leaves simple and alternate, 10-20 cm long. Young leaves are vel- vety and with serrate margins while older leaves are glabrous and have entire margins.
The species is dioecious and male and female trees are slightly different in appearance, male trees having longer and more slender trunk and crown and forking being more common in male than in female trees. Flowers are born in single spikes; male fl owers white, closely crowded in a slender, pendulous catkin up to 20 cm long; females greenish, in a shorter and wider spike that looks hairy from the projecting styles.

The fruit is a syncarp, i.e. the entire female in-fl orescence forms one aggregate structure consisting of small nutlets surrounded by the fl eshy perianth. The fruit is green, 5-7.5 cm long, 2.5 cm thick, wrin-kled and fl eshy and resembling a fat green caterpillar.


There are about 70 seeds per fruit. Seeds are small and light brown, about 1.5 mm long and 1.0 mm wide. It is thinner at the scar end and has a thin seed coat.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark, its ashes, the leaves, and the latex are all Used in local medicine. The latex is used to reduce tumours and obstructions of the throat and for stomach problems. The bark is used to treat coughs, dysentery, heart problems, and general tiredness.Baka Pygmies use the leaves for lactation failure.

Other Uses:
The high quality timber is often used as a teak substitute. It is of significant commercial value and commands high prices internationally. Locally it is Used for furniture, boat building, and general purpose building timber. It resists termites well.

It is often used as a shade tree and along streets as an ornamental. Its leaves are used as mulch and it is also nitrogen fixing.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Click to access milicia_excelsa_63_int_001.pdf

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Herbs & Plants

Alchornea floribunda

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Botanical Name :Alchornea floribunda
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Acalyphoideae
Tribe: Alchorneae
Genus: Alchornea
Species: A. floribunda
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names:Niando,Iporuru, Iporoni, Macochihua,Christmas Bush, Tekei, Agyama, Mbom, Diangba, Alan, Elando, Mulolongu, Kai, Sumara Fida

Habitat :Alchornea floribunda is  native to Sudan, Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Alchornea floribunda is a small evergreen tree that grows up to 10 meters in height.  The flowers are dark red, and the fruit are capsules that are smooth, hairy and ranging from green to red in color. Each fruit contains two  bright red seeds. A. floribunda is found growing primarily in forest undergrowth in Africa.  It may be propagated through seed or stem cuttings and needs very moist soil…….CLICK & SEE  THE PICTURES

You may click to see : pictures of Alchornea floribunda plant.

TRADITIONAL USES: Members of the Byeri group of the Fang in Gabon, a precursor to today’s Bwiti tribe, are said to have once consumed large amount of the root of A. floribunda, which they called alan, as part of initiation rituals.  It is said that the effects are weaker and not as long lasting as those of iboga (Tabernanthe iboga), the entheogen which they now use most commonly in these rituals. During this initiation ritual, the initiate would be shown the skulls of his or her ancestors, and the alan root was said to help them to communicate with the spirits of these dead invidivuals.  A. floribunda is still used today by the Byeri alongside iboga, and on its own as an aphrodisiac.

The related species A. laxiflora is used by the Yoruba people of Nigeria to deflect negative magical attacks back to the originator.  In Peru, A. castaneifolia has been used as an ayahuasca additive and a treatment for rheumatism by many different tribes.

TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: In order to enjoy the aphrodisiac effects of A. floribunda, the Bwiti macerate the root cortex and steep it in palm wine for several days.  The root is also sometimes combined with iboga to potentiate the effects of both plants.  The root bark may also be sun-dried and powdered, then mixed with food and consumed prior to a ritual or a battle to give strength.

The plant has psychedelic and aphrodisiac properties. The powdered rootbark is used for traditional medicine.Indigenous Amazonian peoples and Venezuelan’s use the Iporuru roots for everything from treating arthritis to an aphrodisiac to an added ingredient for making Ayahuasca.

The leaves of A. floribunda are sometimes eaten in the Congo as an antidote for poison, and the leaf or root sap is applied to the skin to treat irritation and wounds.

In the Ivory Coast, the leaves of A. cordifolia are consumed internally and used in baths as a sedative and antispasmodic.  The root bark and leaves are commonly used treat parasites, venereal diseases, ulcers, and many other ailments.  The leaves may also be chewed to relieve mouth ulcers.  In Nigeria, a decoction of the fruit is taken by women to prevent miscarriage and to treat other reproductive troubles.

TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Consumption of A. floribunda is said to produce intense excitement and incredible ecstasy.  This is followed several hours later by depression, vertigo and eventual collapse.  At this point in the experience, the Bwiti believe that the soul is able to journey to the land of the ancestors and to communicate with them.  A. floribunda has been known to cause overdose and death in certain situations, which is perhaps why it is no longer commonly used as an entheogen, even by the Bwiti.

Several species of Alchornea, including A. cordifolia and A. hirtella have been found to contain numerous alkaloids, including possibly yohimbine.  When a decoction of powdered A. floribunda was given to dogs, it was found to increase the sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system to epinephrine.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Alchornea floribunda – Alan Root

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Ebola and Other Tropical Viruses

Ebola and other tropical viruses are related viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers — illnesses marked by severe bleeding (hemorrhage), organ failure and, in many cases, death.

There are five types of Ebola and while infection with some (such as Ebola Reston, found in the Western Pacific) are so mild that people rarely get symptoms, other types such as Ebola Zaire (found in Africa) may be rapidly deadly.

Ebola was identified for the first time in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Southern Sudan. It is one of about 30 new diseases to affect humans over the past few decades.

Both Ebola virus and Marburg virus are native to Africa, where sporadic outbreaks have occurred for decades. No human cases of Ebola virus have been reported in the United States.

Ebola and Marburg viruses live in one or more animal hosts, and humans can contract the viruses from infected animals. After the initial transmission, the viruses can spread from person-to-person through contact with body fluids or contaminated needles.


Ebola was identified for the first time in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Southern Sudan. It is one of about 30 new diseases to affect humans over the past few decades.

Theories on the origins of these diseases are widespread but many of the most frightening appear to have emerged from sub-Saharan Africa. HIV, which leads to Aids, has been linked to a similar virus common in West African monkeys, and the first ever recorded HIV sample was taken from a man in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1959.

Ebola and a few other haemorrhagic fevers have been responsible for a tiny number of deaths compared to Aids, and the number of symptomatic cases reported outside Africa has been miniscule. But the devastating speed at which they strike and the far higher possibility of transmission from human to human have made the thought of a major outbreak a terrifying prospect.

However, Ebola is not the only viral haemorrhagic fever which claims lives in Africa, and beyond. Marburg fever gets its name from the town in Germany in which it broke out in 1967 and shares its symptoms with Ebola. It claimed seven lives from the 25 people infected in Marburg and Frankfurt. Those initially infected were laboratory workers exposed to African green monkeys which had been imported for research. But the majority of cases occur in Africa.

Other well-known haemorrhagic fevers are:

*Lassa fever – first noticed in the 1960s after an outbreak in Nigeria
*Rift Valley fever – mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa
*Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever – found in many parts of Africa, the Middle East and even warmer parts of the former Soviet Union, in which an outbreak is ongoing.

No effective therapy exists for the hemorrhagic fevers caused by Ebola virus and Marburg virus. People diagnosed with Ebola virus or Marburg virus receive supportive care and treatment for complications.

Signs and symptoms of hemorrhagic fevers caused by Ebola virus and Marburg virus start abruptly within a few days to a week or more after infection. Early signs and symptoms include:

*Severe headache
*Joint and muscle aches
*Sore throat

Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

*Nausea and vomiting
*Diarrhea (may be bloody)
*Red eyes
*Raised rash
*Chest pain and cough
*Stomach pain
*Severe weight loss
*Confusion, irritability or aggression
*Massive hemorrhaging from many sites, including nose, mouth, rectum, eyes and ears

Scientists first became aware of the potential of Ebola to destroy whole communities in the mid 1970s, when severe outbreaks in Sudan and the former Zaire killed a total of approximately 440 people. The Zaire strain of the virus is the most deadly to date, proving fatal in just under 90 per cent of those who contract it.

The virus is passed on through contact with blood, secretion or bodily fluids of an infected person – those with the disease start to haemorrhage and cough up or vomit blood, so in outbreaks the disease often spreads from patients to the health care workers looking after them.

Symptoms start to appear anytime from two to 21 days later.

However, how and why each outbreak starts is completely unknown. One theory is that there is a reservoir of the virus in bats, which are unaffected by it, and the virus passes from here to non-human primates such as chimpanzees who in turn pass it on to humans who come into contact with them.

By the time symptoms appear, the virus will have reproduced itself many times and spread through the blood to many organs. The major organs it affects are the liver, kidneys, spleen and reproductive organs.

Of the other haemorrhagic fevers, Lassa fever is spread from rodents which are the natural host. Rift Valley fever is spread by mosquitoes, whilst Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever is spread by ticks

Risk factors:-

For most people — including international travelers — the risk of getting Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever is low. The risk increases if you:

*Travel to or work in areas where Ebola virus or Marburg virus outbreaks have occurred, such as Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire and Angola

*Conduct animal research, especially in tropical African forests, or handle primates infected with Ebola virus or Marburg virus

*Provide medical or personal care for people with Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Marburg hemorrhagic fever

*Prepare people who have died of Ebola hemorrhagic fever or Marburg hemorrhagic fever for burial

Ebola and other tropical viruses are hemorrhagic fevers lead to death for a high percentage of people who are affected. As the illness progresses, it can cause:

*Multiple organ failure
*Severe bleeding

Death often occurs less than 10 days from the start of signs and symptoms.

One reason the viruses are so deadly is that they interfere with the immune system’s ability to mount a defense. But scientists don’t understand why some people recover from Ebola and Marburg and others don’t.

For people who survive, recovery is slow. It may take months to regain weight and strength, and the viruses remain in the body for many weeks. People may experience:

*Hair loss
*Sensory changes
*Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
*Eye inflammation
*Testicular inflammation
Ebola and other tropical viruses fevers are difficult to diagnose because many of the early signs and symptoms resemble those of other infectious diseases, such as typhoid and malaria. But if doctors suspect that you have been exposed to Ebola virus or Marburg virus, they use laboratory tests that can identify the viruses within a few days.

Most people with Ebola or Marburg hemorrhagic fever have high concentrations of the virus in their blood. Blood tests known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can detect specific genes or the virus or antibodies to them.
There is still no specific treatment for Ebola – no standard anti-viral therapies such as interferon have any effect. A vaccine has been produced that was 100 per cent effective in protecting a group of monkeys from the disease, but attempts to replicate the success in humans have so far proved unsuccessful. At present if someone beats Ebola, they do it by themselves, albeit with intensive medical support with intravenous fluids, and/or blood transfusions, or oral rehydration with electrolyte solutions. Survivors can be expected to make a full recovery, although occasionally reversible personality changes have been noted in such lucky patients.

Careful barrier nursing and avoidance of contamination with infected body fluids is still the best way to limit an outbreak.

Treatments in development
Scientists have developed vaccinations against both Ebola and Marburg which work on laboratory animals, and there are promising signs of some therapies that can be used on people affected. Some experiments use antibodies from the marrow of Ebola survivors. Much of the scientific work underway is focused on finding the original source of the disease – the reservoir. One project examined thousands of animals in the rainforests of West Africa in a bid to isolate those hosting the virus.

Some scientists say that the growing numbers of so-called emerging diseases are due to increasing forays by humans into the tropical forests. This brings them into contact with new creatures – and new infections – making it possible there could be even more powerful viruses waiting to play havoc in the human body.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


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