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Health Benefits Of Locust Beans

African locust bean popularly used in seasoning traditional soups has shown
promise in boosting cellular immunity in immune-compromised persons, as well as, in management of diarhhoea, diabetes, and heart attack. It could also serve as
antidote to snake bites.

THEY are used for local seasoning of soups, from bitter-leaf soup (Onugbu in Ibo) to palm fruit soup (Ofe akwu in Ibo). They come with sometimes, offensive odour, but make delicious meals. Indeed, the fermented seeds of Parkia
biglobosa and Parkia bicolor are used in all parts of Nigeria and the West Coast of Africa for seasoning traditional soups. They belong to the plant family Mimosaceae of the order Leguminisae.

P. biglobosa popularly known as the African locust bean tree is known in Yoruba as Igba, or Irugba, in Hausa as Dorowa, Nune in Tiv, and in lbo as Ogili. In Yoruba, P. bicolor is referred to as Igba odo, Dorowa, in Hausa, and in lbo as Ogili okpi.
According to a study published in Plant Biology 2010, “the seed of African locust
bean when boiled and fermented is known as dawadawa in Hausa language in Nigeria, a black strong smelling tasty seasoning, rich in lipid 29 per cent, protein 35 per cent, carbohydrate 16 per cent, good source of protein, fat and calcium for rural dweller.

“The bark is used as a mouthwash, vapour inhalant for toothache, or for ear
complaints. It is macerated in baths for leprosy and used for bronchitis, pneumonia, skin infections, sores, ulcers, washes for fever, malaria, diarrhoea, and sterility. Roots are used in a lotion for sore eyes. ”

According to The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa by H. M. Burkill, “the
pulverised bark of P. bicolor is employed in wound healing. P. biglobosa is known to provide an ingredient that is used in treating leprosy, and for treating
hypertension. “In Gambia, the leaves and roots are used in preparing a lotion for sore eyes. A decoction of the bark of P. biglobosa is also used as a bath for fever, as a hot mouthwash to steam and relieve toothache. The pulped bark is used along with lemon for wound and ulcers. ”

 But results of a recent study suggest that the aqueous extract of leaves of Parkia biglobosa stimulate the production of total lymphocytes (white blood cells) and TCD4+ (a marker of the immune system). The study published in Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America is titled “ Effects of aqueous extract of leaves of Parkia biglobosa on markers of cellular immunity in rabbit. ”
The studies of the aqueous extract of leaves of Parkia biglobosa by Ivorien researchers showed that doses of 25, 50, 75 and 100mg/kg of BW induced a significant increase both in the count of total lymphocytes count and TCD4+ count of rabbits.

The researchers concluded, “the aqueous extract of Parkia biglobosa leaves induced an increase in both the count of total lymphocytes and TCD4+ in blood. Thus, doses of 75 and 100mg/kg Body Weight (BW) mobilising more of total lymphocytes and TCD4+ in peripheral blood, and over a period of six days. To this end, the leaves of this plant contain immunostimulatory activity molecule.
“This assertion is supported by the increase in the immunosuppressive activity of
Methylprednisolone by the aqueous extract of leaves of Parkia biglobosa and the
isoprinosine. This leads us to suggest that the aqueous extract of leaves of Parkia
biglobosa would have the same mode of action than isoprinosine. Therefore, it could help strengthen the immune system of immuno-suppressed. ”

Methylprednisolone (Medrol) is in a class of drugs called steroids. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. Methylprednisolone is used to treat many different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.
Isoprinosine (Ip) is a prescription drug posited to have immune modulating and
anti-viral properties.

Also, results of another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology revealed that the aqueous methanol extracts of all the five medicinal plants, including Parkia biglobosa, investigated have pharmacological activity against diarrhoea. This may explain their use in traditional medicine for the treatment of diarrhoea.  The study titled: “Evaluation of five medicinal plants used in diarrhoea
treatment in Nigeria, ” was carried out by researchers at Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria, Kaduna State.

Also, the results of a study published in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology demonstrated that both aqueous and methanolic extracts of
fermented seeds of Parkia biglobosa (PB) exert a hypoglycaemic (reduces blood
glucose) effect, hence, PB has an anti- diabetic property. However, only the
aqueous extract of PB ameliorated the loss of bodyweight usually associated with diabetes. The researchers from the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, wrote: “Although the aqueous extract has a favourable lipid profile, which is probably an indication of its possible anti-arteriogenic property (hypertension and ischaemic heart diseases being common complications in diabetes mellitus), the methanolic extract shows possible contraindication to ischaemic heart diseases. ”

Another research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that
procyanidin-rich fractions from Parkia biglobosa leaves caused a reduction in
blood pressure.

Also, researchers at the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, have demonstrated the anti-snake venom activities of Parkia biglobosa stem bark extract. The researchers wrote in the study published in Toxicology: “We have studied
the ability of one such traditionally used plant to reduce the effects of two snake
venoms (Naja nigricollis, and Echis ocellatus)

in several experimental models. A water- methanol extract of P. biglobosa stem bark significantly protected the chick biventer cervicis (cbc) muscle preparation from N. nigricollis venom-induced inhibition of neurally evoked twitches when it was added to the bath three to five minutes before or after the venom.
“P. biglobosa extract (75, 150 and 300 microg/ml) significantly protected C2C12
murine muscle cells in culture against the cytotoxic effects of N. nigricollis and E.
ocellatus venoms. The extract protected egg embryos exposed to lethal concentrations of E. ocellatus venom for more than 12 hours and completely blocked the haemorrhagic activity of the venom at concentrations of 5 and 10 microg/1.5 microl. ”

“ P. biglobosa extract (400 mg/kg) did not protect mice injected i.p. with 5 and 2.5 mg/ kg of E. ocellatus and N. nigricollis venoms, respectively. It, however, protected 40 per cent of the mice from death caused by E. ocellatus venom after the extract and venom were pre-incubated for 30 min before injecting the mixture.”

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