CALOTROPIS PROCERA A REVIEW OF THE MEDICINAL USES

Calotropis procera Commonly known as ‘giant-milkweed’ is a flowering plant specie that is native to North Africa, Tropical Africa, Western Asia, South Asia, Nigeria and Indochina. It’s very abundant in Nigeria with the local name: Bomu-bomu in Yoruba, Tumfatiya in Hausa. The leaves is popularly use by the Fulani tribe and Hausa to prepare a traditional drink called ‘Wankachi’ and Nono. The green globes are hollow but the flesh contains a toxic milky sap that is extremely bitter and turns into a gluey coating resistant to soap. The stems and leaves have a waxy appearance and contain a milky white sap (i.e. latex). Branching occurs from the base of the plant upwards. Younger stems are greyish-green in colour, smooth in texture, and have a covering of whitish coloured hairs (i.e. they are hoary). Mature stems have a deeply fissured, cork-like, bark that is light brown in colour. This plant is used particularly for treatment of asthma, arthritis and skin related diseases.

BOTANICAL NAME : Calotropis Procera
Family :Apocynaceae
Common Name: Giantmilkweed

LOCAL NAMES IN NIGERIA:
Yoruba : bomu bomu
Hausa : Tumfatiya

TRADITIONAL USE OF THE PLANT:

The traditional use of the giantmilkweed are innumerable. Listed below are a few viz:

(1) The flower powder help to treat ashthma
(2) the latex extract can be used to treat ear ache.
(3) a smeared mustard oil on a leaf of the plant helps treat stomach ache
(4) The leaves is used in treatment of arthritis
(5) Skin disease: A paste of the stem bark is applied on the skin surface cures skin diseases.
(6) Roots, stem bark, latex, leaves and flowers: An extract of the whole plant is taken as a tonic and purgative in small doses, and as an emetic in larger doses. It cures diarrhoea, dysentery, intestinal worms, colic, spleen complaints, pneumonia, fever, jaundice, elephantiasis and leprosy.
(7) Dried root powder : when soaked in water is taken to increase milk flow of nursing mothers and is given to women to ease child birth.
(8) Ground roots or the ash of the burnt roots : are applied as a salve or rubbed in to treat skin rash, skin infections and leprosy.
(9) Root powder : when mixed with Capsicum pepper is put in a bath to treat rheumatism and arthritis.
(10) The root bark is remedy for cough.
(11) The stem bark acts as an aphrodisiac.
(12) The leaf pulp is taken to treat snakebites. They are sometimes taken by women to induce abortion and as an uterotonic.

TOXICOLOGY OF THE PLANT:

The latex is toxic and can cause rash, blisters and serious inflammations in sensitive persons and it may lead to blindness. Ingesting larger doses of latex produce toxic symptoms like burning in the throat, irritation of the stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, vertigo and convulsions. The latex has been used as a hunting poison and fish poison, and sometimes used for criminal purposes. The milky sap contains a complex mixture of chemicals like the “cardiac aglycones”. These are steroidal heart poisons . Thus in the process of formulation, the latex and milky sap should be well processed to remove the toxic constituents and the consumption of raw plant and it’s extract must be in adherence to prescribed doses.

CONCLUSION :
Calotropis procera is a wonderful and unique plant. It has great uses but because of the toxic nature of the milky latex which is very abundance in all parts of the plant caution must be taken to ensure the herb is prescribed by an  experience Herbalist before consuming it. Feel free to contact us for further advice if you need to use this herb .

REFERENCES:-

(1) Gavin D. “Calotropis procera ” United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2010, p 7

(2)The Jewish Encyclopedia “apple of Sodom” Jewish encyclopedia , 2002, vol 2
(3)Whiston, William Josephus” The War of the Jews” translated by William Whiston” 1734, p 500

(4)New inversed version “Application Commentary on Kings; cf. Cogan and Tadmore, II Kings” 1956, vol 10 , p. 58

(5) F. Bruschweiler, K. Stockel & T. ” the apple of sodom reviewed ” Jewish encyclopedia, 2016 , vol 9

(6)Ahmed, K.K.M., Rana, A.C. & Dixit, V.K., 2005. Calotropis species (Asclepiadaceae) – a comprehensive review. Pharmacognosy Magazine 1(2): 48–52.

(7)Arbonnier, M., 2000. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sèches d’Afrique de l’Ouest. CIRAD, MNHN, UICN. 541 pp.

(8)Baerts, M. & Lehmann, J., 2011. Calotropis procera. [Internet] Prelude Medicinal Plants Database. Metafro-Infosys, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium http://www.metafro.be/prelude. Accessed September 2011.

(9) bagherwal, P., 2011. Immunomodulatory activities of the non-dialyzable latex fraction (NDL) from Calotropis procera (Ait.) R. Br. International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences 2(1): 114–119.

(10)Chavda, R., Vadalia, K.R. & Gokani, R., 2010. Hepatoprotective and antioxidant activity of root bark of Calotropis procera R.Br (Asclepediaceae). International Journal of Pharmacology 6(6): 937–943.

(11) De Freitas, C.D., Lopes, J.L., Beltramini, L.M., de Oliveira, R.S., Oliveira, J.T. & Ramos, M.V., 2011. Osmotin from Calotropis procera latex: new insights into structure and antifungal properties. Biochimica & Biophysica Acta 1808(10): 2501–2507.

(12) De Oliveira, J.S., Bezerra, D.P., Teixeira de Freitas, C.D., Barreto Marinho Filho, J.D., de Moraes, M.O., Pessoa, C., Costa-Lotufo, L.V. & Ramos, M.V., 2007. In vitro cytotoxicity against different human cancer cell lines of laticifer proteins of Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br. Toxicology in Vitro 21(8): 1563–1573.

(13) Kiew, R., 2001. Calotropis R.Br. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 133–138.
(13) manikandan, M. & Arumugam, R., 2010. Potentiality of Calotropis procera on the yield of biocrudes and biogas production. Journal of Phytology 2(4): 33–40.

Olajide

Medical Herbalist. Experienced Natural Health Consultation expert.

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