African Cherry (Prunus africana)

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The beautiful evergreen tree is such a gem and does have lots of benefits. The tree also popularly known as stinkwood for its wood that does produce a foul odour, its sap can be used as fly repellant.

The Prunus africana tree species has wide applications in African traditional medicine where its leaves, roots and stem bark are used, although the stem bark of the tree is the main part used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous African people since ancient times. The dull gray to brown bark is pulverized by the traditional healers and used to treat a number of health conditions including Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate) among males over 40 years old, erectile dysfunction, urinary tract disorders, kidney disease, male baldness, stomach upset, chest pain and inflammation. The bark is also used in the treatment of stomach ache and wound dressing. Apart from the bark, the leaves of Prunus africana are also used to treat some diseases. An infusion of the leaves is traditionally used to improve appetite, treatment of genital infection and hirsutism (a condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth) in women.

The bark is also sought as an aphrodisiac to enhance vitality and sexual power especially among the males.
Despite its medicinal uses, Prunus africana is important in charcoal and timber production as well. Its use as timber is popular in the mining industry as pit props, in railway sleepers in the railway industry, and in bridge and other heavy duty construction work industries.
The multiple uses of Prunus africana for traditional medicine is not surprising since scientific studies have shown that it has various bioactive substances with anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and antimicrobial effects. Some of the bioactive compounds identified in Prunus africana are triterpenes, sterols, coumarin, and flavanoids that have been known to have vital medicinal properties for the claimed health conditions. Because of it’s over exploitation for health benefits with less effort geared towards conservation, P. africana has been classified as a vulnerable species facing a high risk of extinction.


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