Ever since the dawn of human history, humans have used the various parts of plants to treat disease and for their enjoyment. Ghana is a tropical country and as such, it has relatively warm weather throughout the year. Hence, it comes as no surprise that it features a myriad diversity of plants that are considered medicinal.
These plant parts are usually prepared to extract their active ingredients to use them for effective therapy. In this article, you’ll discover 5 medicinal plants from Ghana used for ailment and disease treatment.
Brief introduction into the world of herbal medicine
Long before our modern-day hospitals, pharmacies, and injections, medicinal plants have been used extensively to treat ailments. You could think that the advent of modern pills, tablets, and suspensions would render the traditional redundant. However, this is not the case entirely because many people still believe in the power and efficacy of herbal medicine.
Many orthodox drugs were first discovered in plants and when the structure and properties of their active ingredients were studied, they were synthesized in the lab and made into pills.
Even though some of the plants are superstitiously believed to cure all manner of diseases by the indigenes, many have been scientifically proven to treat the diseases they are famed for treating.
The Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine is the government-established research Institution that is responsible for the scientific research into the medicinal properties of plants and makes them available to the public.
5 Medicinal Plants from Ghana
They’re listed in no specific order with their common names first, followed by their botanical names to provide correct identification.
- Mahogany – Khaya senegalensis
- Neem – Azadirachta indica
- Ginger – Zingiber officinale
- Coat Buttons – Tridax procumbens
- Waterleaf – Talinum triangulare
Mahogany – Khaya senegalensis
This tree is often called mahogany and is well known for its versatile use in the furniture industry. It is native to countries that are South of the Sahara and is found in regions with good rainfall.
It can grow to lengths of 15m – 30m and are now usually cultivated as avenue trees. The bark is very bitter and well known as a fever remedy for malaria, stomach complications, and headaches. The bark has also been found to be used as a vermifuge (destroy intestinal worms) and for treating syphilis.
Many different uses have been found of the bark which includes its extract being used for the treatment of dermatoses, allergies, jaundice, and is also used as a laxative. The bark is not the only medicinal thing about the tree; the roots are also used to treat sterility, leprosy and are also used as aphrodisiacs.
Neem – Azadirachta indica
The neem tree is not difficult to locate all over the country and it’s one of the most common Ghana medicinal plants. These trees are originally native to India and Southeast Asia, and through migration with its associated trade and commerce, the Neem tree came to Ghana.
The soil and climate were so favorable that they became invasive and colonized most lands. This was further enhanced by the fruit bats that dispersed the neem seeds after eating the fruit.
Many Ghanaians like the neem tree because of the shade it gives, however, found another use for it – firewood. Neem has become the leading producer of firewood for the densely populated regions of Accra.
Health benefits of Neem
- Leaf decoctions (the concentrated liquor resulting from heating or boiling a part of a plant) are used to effectively treat malaria.
- In a laboratory study, neem preparations were effective against the growth of several pathogenic bacteria including Salmonella and Staphylococcus species.
- The twigs are used as chewing sticks for cleaning the teeth and dentists have found twigs effective in preventing periodontal disease.
- Furthermore, neem oil is a powerful spermicide and is therefore used as an inexpensive birth control method.
Ginger – Zingiber officinale
Most of us are familiar with good old ginger and its use in many different cuisines and delicacies. The strongly flavoured and hot spice has many relevant uses and the active ingredients in ginger are terpenes and oleoresin called ginger oil. These two and other active ingredients in ginger provide antiseptic, lymph-cleansing, and constipation relief.
It is no secret that ginger is very good for the respiratory system. It is used to treat many kinds of colds and flu. Due to its uncomfortably hot and tangy taste and flavor, many prefer to dice it up and take it with raw sugar sprinkled on it to reduce the unpleasant taste that a lot of people are uncomfortable with.
It has been shown to provide substantial protection from strokes and heart attacks because of its remarkable ability to prevent blood clotting.
Coat Buttons – Tridax procumbens
Tridax is usually considered a weed and it grows everywhere without any attempt to actively cultivate. Many people do not recognize that tridax has many medicinal benefits. Research has shown that they have several potential therapeutic insecticidal and anti-inflammatory activities.
This plant has been found to also possess antiviral, antibiotic, and wound healing abilities. In practice, an extract of the leaf can be used to dress fresh wounds, to stop bleeding, and as a hair tonic.
Extensive research has shown that the plant is very effective in reducing the blood sugar levels of diabetics hence helping to control the disease. The oral administration of the leaf extracts leads to significant blood glucose reduction.
Waterleaf – Talinum triangulare
Waterleaf just like tridax is considered as a weed and is used in the cuisines of some cultures including some cultures here in Ghana as it has lots of vitamins and essential minerals.
The extract of the leaves and root is used to treat asthma, used as a diuretic and used to treat fevers and high blood pressure. Moreover, a decoction of the plant is used to treat painful eyes (drops are put into the eyes) and to aid recovery from blows and falls.
Come meet our garden at Green Views
At Green Views Apartments garden we have a variety of interesting plants. It is very necessary to explore these other uses of plants to fully benefit from what they can do. This will provide the benefit of more trees being planted in our environment and helping to save our planet.
We invite you to visit our community. GreenViews is the best luxury apartment you can get in Accra, especially if you love nature and great quality service.