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  Subject Portals: Phytomedicine
   
Acacia senegal
Fabaceae

Common names
Rudraksha, Gum Acacia, Gum Arabic Tree, or Gum Senegal Tree.
 
Family
Fabaceae
 
Description
Small, deciduous, thorny tree, up to 6 m, with a rounded to spreading crown. Compound leaves. Elongated spikes of pale yellow to cream-coloured, fluffy flowers. Thorns are arranged in groups of three.
 
Parts Used
Gum arabic, flow naturally from the trees, after infection and under stress condi¬tions. It is collected, or the trees may be tapped. The gum is tasteless and odourless.
 
Medicinal Uses
Medicinally, gum arabic and Cape gum are used extensively in pharmaceutical preparations. It have been used as demulcent and skin protective agents and as pharmaceutical aids: as emul¬sifiers, stabilisers of suspensions and additives for solid formulations. It is sometimes used to treat bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and mouth. It soothes the mucous membranes of the intestine and to treat inflammed skin. It is also reportedly used as for its astringent properties, for antitussive, to treat bleeding, bronchitis, diarrhea, dysentery, catarrh, colds, coughs, expectorant, hemorrhage, sore throat, gonorrhea, leprosy, thyphoid fever and upper respiratory tract- and urinary tract infections.

Pharmaceutically used mainly in the manufacture of emulsions and in making pills and troches (as an excipient); as demulcent for inflammations of the throat or stomach and as masking agent for acrid tasting substances such as capsicum; also as a film-forming agent in peel-off masks. Can be used externally to cover inflamed surfaces, as burns, sore nipples and nodular leprosy.

 
Preparation and Dosage
It is applied to the skin or is included in formulations and tablets.
 
Active Ingredients
Gum arabic is a complex polysaccharide comprising mainly ara¬binose, galactose, D-glucuronic acid and L-rhamnose subunits.
 
Pharmacological Effects
Gum arabic softens and soothes the skin and mucosa, and has a moisturising, antibiotic and protective action that promotes healing. The gum has numerous industrial applications (adhesives, inks and paints). Gums from various species of Acacia are important food items in rural areas and are used commercially as additive in the food industry (as tasteless and non-toxic stabilisers and emulsifiers). Ingested orally, acacia is nontoxic.
 
Distribution
Origin: Africa. It is native to semi-desert regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, from southern to northern Africa; production of the gum occurs mainly in North Africa (Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and especially the Sudan; tree is known as hashab).
 
Bibliography
1. Medicinal Plants of the world: an illustrated scientific guide to important medicinal plants and their uses. Ben-Erik van Wyk, Michael Wink. Pretoria: Briza, 2004.
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_senegal
 

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