content='1;url='http-equiv='refresh'/> Natural Health Remedy: May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Fluted Pumpkin, Velvet Bean Boost Fertility In Men.

Several studies have pointed to the
growing problem of sperm count decline
worldwide. However, Nigerian researchers
have demonstrated that making fluted
pumpkin and devil bean part of the daily
diet will not only boost sperm count and
sexual performance in men, but protect
the reproductive organs from damage and
improve the functions of the kidney.

THEY are two of a kind. They are climbers
found in many farms and garden across the
country. Fluted pumpkin (Telfairia
occidentalis) is a popular vegetable
commonly called ugu by most Nigerians. But
cowhage or velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens)
is not that popular. It is called werepe in
Yoruba and agbala or agboloko in Ibo. The
velvet bean plant is notorious for the spiky
hairs on the mature bean pods that are very
irritating to the skin.
But recent studies suggest that a
combination of the two herbal extracts
could produce the must awaited novel drug
that can improve sperm count, boost libido
and sexual performance in men, protect the
testicles from environmentally induced
damage, lower blood sugar, act as antidote
to snake bites, among other benefits.
A study published recently in the African
Journal of Biotechnology suggests that
aqueous extract of T. occidentalis could
improve haematological parameters and
sperm quality, and could be a potent
hypoglycemic agent.
The study titled: “Aqueous extract of
Telfairia occidentalis leaves reduces blood
sugar and increases haematological and
reproductive indices in male rats ” was
published by Toyin M. Salman, Luqman A.
Olayaki and Wahab A. Oyeyemi of the
Department of Physiology, College of Health
Sciences, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Kwara
The researchers wrote, “the present study
has shown that the aqueous extract of T.
occidentalis caused significant increases in
packed cell volume, haemoglobin
concentration, red blood cell count and
white blood cell count in addition to a
significant decrease in blood glucose.
“The increase in the haematological indices
observed in this study is consistent with the
observations made when rats were fed
with the diet preparation of the air-dried
leaves of T. occidentalis for four weeks. The
present study has also shown for the first
time that new blood cells would have
started appearing in the circulation after the
fifth day of treatment with T. occidentalis
and the increase would become significant
after the seventh day of treatment and
“The increases in the haematological indices
observed following treatment with T.
occidentalis extract might not be
unconnected with the chemical composition
of the leaves of T. occidentalis. The chemical
composition had been shown to include
proteins, fat, vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin,
nicotinamide, vitamin C and minerals such
as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.
“The amino acid profile of T. occidentalis
had also been shown to be very rich and
includes alanine, aspartate, glycine,
glutamine, histidine, lysine, methio-nine,
tryptophan, cystine, leucine, arginine,
serine, threonine, phenylalanine, valine,
tyrosine and isoleucine.
“Some of these constituents are well-
established haemopoietic factors that have
direct influence on the production of blood
in the bone marrow. For instance, iron is a
well-known haemopoietic factor.
“ Moreover, the amino acids derived from T.
occidentalis could also be used for the
synthesis of the globin chains of the
haemoglobin and this could also contribute
to the increase in haemoglobin
concentration. The significant increase
observed in this study is, however,
inconsistent with the insignificant change in
haematological parameters observed when
birds were fed with the dietary preparation
of the sun-dried leaves of the plant.
“The insignificant change observed with
the sun-dried leaves might be due to the
denaturing of the active ingredients
especially proteins in the leaves during
exposure to sunlight. In addition, the
inconsistence may be an indication of a
species variation in the responses to the
effects of the plant.
“The significant reduction in blood glucose
suggests that the vegetable plant also
possesses hypoglycemic property. This is
consistent with the reports that a number
of anti-malarial agents including quinine,
chloroquine and Morinda lucida extract
possess hypoglycemic activities. T.
occidentalis has also been employed in the
treatment of malaria. Hypoglycemic
property therefore appears to be common
to the above-mentioned anti-malarial
agents. ”
According to the study, the significant
increases in the sperm motility, viability and
counts could also be attributed to the
actions of some of its active ingredients,
which have well-documented
spermatogenic activities.
The researchers further explained, “the
administration of T. occidentalis extract
could therefore be construed as a steady
supply of additional nutrients to the treated
rats over the control rats. Carbohydrate-rich
T. occidentalis for instance, could have
increased sperm motility and viability by
increasing glucose metabolism leading to
the production of pyruvate and energy.
Pyruvate is known to be the preferred
substrate essential for the activity and
survival of sperm cells.
Moreover, the amino acid arginine is a
biochemical precursor in the synthesis of
putrescine, spermidine and spermine, which
are essential for sperm motility. Zinc also
promotes growth, sexual maturation and
reproduction. In fact, studies have shown
that serum and semen zinc levels were
lower in infertile males than the fertile
males. Vitamin C had also been reported to
improve sperm motility and fertility in
smokers, respectively.
“Although, serum testosterone was not
estimated in this study, the increase in
sperm counts may be due to an increase in
serum testosterone concentration.
Testosterone is needed for growth and
development of male reproductive organs
and in association with follicular stimulating
hormone, it acts on the seminiferous
tubules to initiate and maintain
spermatogenesis. ”
The researchers noted that the ability of T.
occidentalis to increase sperm motility,
viability and counts, as observed in this
study, is of great interest because these
parameters are determinants of the
fertilising capacity of sperm cells.
They added, “in fact, studies have shown
that agents, which reduce the fertilising
capacity of sperm cells do so by reducing
these parameters. For instance, the
reduction in the fertility of male rats treated
with chloroquine and the extracts of
Morinda lucida and Alstonia boonei had
been attributed to significant reduction in
sperm motility, viability and counts induced
by these agents. Immotile or sluggishly
motile spermatozoa would not penetrate
the cervical mucus and thus could fail to
fertilise the ova. Fewer numbers of viable
sperm cells could also reduce the chances of
fertilisation. The increase in the sperm
parameters induced by T. occidentalis could
therefore increase the fertilising capacity of
spermatozoa. ”
Current evidence suggests that a multi-
faceted therapeutic approach to improving
male fertility involves identifying harmful
environmental and occupational risk
factors, while correcting underlying
nutritional imbalances to encourage optimal
sperm production and function. In this
respect, studies have shown that nutritional
therapies with zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and
arginine proved beneficial in treating male
The researchers concluded, “since T.
occidentalis contains most of these
substances, it could, therefore, be a natural
product that may be very useful in the
treatment and management of infertility
especially that associated with reduction in
sperm performance. This study suggests
that aqueous extract of T. occidentalis could
improve haematological parameters and
sperm quality and it could be a potent
hypoglycemic agent. ”
Further studies aimed at elucidating the
mechanism of hypoglycemic effect of this
vegetable plant and its effects on male
reproductive hormones and fertility are
required. ”
Another study published in the International
Journal of Applied Research in Natural
Products concluded, “the overall results
obtained in this study suggest that Telfairia
occidentalis leave extract (prepared as is
done in Nigerian trado-medicine) possesses
protective effect on the testes at a lower
dose, but is deleterious to the testes at
higher doses. ”
Yet another study published in Caderno de
Pesquisa, série Biologia noted, “this shows
that the extract of Telfairia occidentalis has
a regenerative effect on the destroyed
testicular histology induced by quinine
therapy. ”
Results of a comparative effects of the
leaves of bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina)
and Telfairia occidentalis incorporated diets
on the lipid profile of rats showed that at
the five and 15 per cent treatments,
Telfairia occidentalis (TO) significantly
lowered the serum total cholesterol (TC)
level relative to the effect of Vernonia
amygdalina (VA).
The results published in African Journal of
Biochemistry Research also showed that the
effects of VA and TO on triacylglycerol (TG)
and low- density lipoprotein cholesterol
(LDL-C) ‘bad’ cholesterol were similar. For
high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)
‘ good’ cholesterol, the TO diet preparation
induced a significantly higher serum HDL-C
level relative to the effect of the VA diet at
the 15 per cent treatment. Overall, the
incorporation of V. amygdalina and T.
occidentalis in diet preparations were anti-
lipidaemic where to showed a greater effect
compared to the VA diet preparation.
Indian researchers have shown that
Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by
its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-
gonadal axis. The hypothalamic-pituitary-
gonadal axis is a critical part in the
development and regulation of a number of
the body’s systems, such as the
reproductive and immune systems.
According to the study published in Fertility
and Sterility, decreased sperm count and
motility were seen in infertile subjects. The
researchers wrote: “Serum Testosterone
and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) levels, as well
as, seminal plasma and blood levels of
dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline
were also decreased in all groups of infertile
men. LH is a hormone secreted by the
pituitary gland that helps the egg mature
and develop.
The seminal plasma mediates the chemical
function of the ejaculate. Dopamine is a
neurotransmitter that helps control the
brain ’s reward and pleasure centers. Release
of adrenaline and noradrenaline is triggered
by nervous stimulation in response to
physical or mental stress.
This was accompanied by significantly
increased serum Follicle Stimulating
Hormone (FSH) and Prolactin (PRL) levels in
oligozoospermic subjects. FSH is essential to
fertility and the ability to get pregnant. PRL
is peptide hormone primarily associated
with lactation.
“Treatment with M. pruriens significantly
improved testosterone (T), LH, dopamine,
adrenaline, and noradrenaline levels in
infertile men and reduced levels of FSH and
PRL. Sperm count and motility were
significantly recovered in infertile men after
treatment. Treatment with M. pruriens
regulates steroidogenesis (production of
steroids by the adrenal glands) and
improves semen quality in infertile men. ”
The results of a Nigerian study published in
the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research,
showed that the Nigerian M. pruriens seeds
improve the haematological and serum
biochemical parameters determined in a
dose-dependent manner. The results
showed that shade-dried, pulverized seeds
of M. pruriens lowers blood cholesterol,
blood urea and serum creatinine.
“It also reduces bleeding time; increases
platelet count and these were statistically
significant. However, the effect on packed
cell volume (PCV) was not statistically
significant when compared with the control.
Hence, shade-dried seeds of MP seeds are
not poisonous when compared with the
raw seeds.”
The researchers from the Department of
Clinical Pharmacy and Biopharmacy, Faculty
of Pharmacy Olabisi Onabanjo University,
Sagamu, Ogun State, concluded,
“thus, MP has a good potential for clinical
applications but a dose-response study is,
therefore, necessary to determine the
dosage individualisation for each of the
clinical applications. It is note worthy that
MP did not produce any noticeable toxicity
in the rats at the doses applied. It could be
pertinent to point out the nutritional value
of the MP in lowering blood cholesterol,
blood urea and serum creatinine and,
therefore, reduce the incidence of
arteriosclerosis ureamia (symptom of
chronic renal failure) and in the assessment
of nephritic functions.”
Serum Creatinine is a chemical molecule that
is present in the liquid portion of the blood.
If kidney function is abnormal, creatinine
levels will increase in the blood.

Safety And Efficacy Of Local Herbal Bitter.

They are bitter and medicinal.
Herbal bitters are enjoying great patronage in Nigeria.
There have been claims and counter claims on their
safety and efficacy. But a recent study has
validated the safety and efficacy of a
locally produced herbal bitters in reducing
the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

A NIGERIAN polyherbal drug, Leon Bitters,
prepared with Gongronema latifolium,
Cocos nucifera (coconut) roots and Parinari
curatellifolia seeds has shown promise in
reducing the risk of diabetes and heart
disease risk.
The study titled “Acute and sub-chronic
toxicity and antimicrobial evaluation on a
Nigeria herbal remedy, Leon Bitters ” was
published in Agriculture and Biology Journal
of North America. Leon Bitters was
formulated by Mrs. Laura Daniels and
produced by Herbal Fountain Nigeria
The researchers led by Dr. Steve Ogbonna of
the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty
of Pharmacy, College of Medicine University
of Lagos, Idi-Araba, concluded: “The herbal
preparation though a non sterile aqueous
drug preparation had microbial
contamination within the standard
acceptable limit and could be considered
microbiologically safe for human
“The study showed that the drug has some
hypoglycaemic (blood sugar lowering
effect) activity and good reducing effects
on cardiovascular factors. The study also
revealed that the drug at doses investigated
did not provoke toxic effects to the animals ’
liver, heart and kidney at high dose.”
Gongronema latifolium, commonly called
utazi and arokeke in the South Western and
South Eastern parts of Nigeria, is a tropical
rainforest plant primarily used as spice and
vegetable in traditional folk medicine.
Parinari curatellifolia belongs to the plant
family Chrysobalanaceae. In Nigeria, it is
called nawarre-baadi (monkey ’s plum) in
Fulani, bobwohi in Gwari, fara rura in Hausa,
odaubi in Idoma, ijak in Igala, mando in
Kanuri, kobenci the fruit and putu the tree
in Nupe, ibyua in Tiv, and abo idofun or
ebere in Yoruba.
The study by researchers from the
Departments of Pharmacognosy and
Pharmaceutical Technology and
Pharmaceutical Microbiology, University of
Lagos; Department of Anatomy, Olabisi
Onabanjo University. Ago-Iwoye, Ogun
State; and Federal College of Complementary
and Alternative Medicine, Ketu, Lagos,
evaluated acute and sub-chronic toxicities
in rodents and microbial purity of a
polyherbal preparation, Leon Bitters,
prepared with Gongronema latifolia
(climbing stem), Cocos nucifera (coconut)
roots and Parinari curatellifolia seeds.
Microbial purity was evaluated on some
bacterial and fungal organisms using
appropriate diagnostic media. Toxicity of
the polyherbal preparation was evaluated in
Swiss albino mice by administering to the
animals oral graded doses of the lyophilised
drug in the ranges of 1.0 g/kg to 20.0 g/kg
body weight and observed continuously
for the first four hours and hourly for the
next 12 hours, then six hourly for 56 hours
(72 hours, acute toxicity).
Wistar rats were also fed with different
doses of the lyophilised drug for 30 days
and the effects of the drug on some tissues
- heart, liver, kidney and testes - were
microscopically examined. Also the effects
on the biochemical and haematological
parameters were evaluated (sub-chronic
toxicity model). No zone of inhibition was
observed on either the bacterial culture
media or the fungal culture media.
The median acute toxicity value (LD50) of
the polyherbal medicine was determined to
be 7.2 g/kg body weight. No significant
increase in the body weight was observed
in the groups treated with the drug
compared to the control. There was
significant increase in creatinine level while
aspartate aminotransferases (AST) and
alanine aminotransferases (ALT) showed no
appreciable increase.
According to the researchers, the drug
significantly reduced (p?0.05) triglyceride
(TG) level while low density lipoprotein
(LDL)- ‘bad’cholesterol level was not altered,
but led to increase in high density
lipoprotein (HDL )–‘good’ cholesterol in the
treated groups compared to the control.
There was no significant change in the
mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH), mean
corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean
corpuscular haemoglobin concentration
(MCHC) in all the treated animals compared
to the control.
“The study showed that the drug exhibited
hypolipidemic activity and good reducing
effects on cardiovascular factors. However,
a long -erm use may be harmful to the
testes, a male reproductive organ. ”
Other studies have validated the
antimicrobial, blood sugar and cholesterol
lowering effects of Gongronema latifolium,
coconut and Parinari curatellifolia. Reports
by various authors showed that it contains
essential oils, saponins and pregnanes
among others. It was reported that aqueous
and ethanolic G. latifolium extracts had
hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar),
hypolipidemic (lowers blood cholesterol)
and antioxidative (reverses cell damage)
properties while other reports showed that
it has anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a study published in Journal of
Zhejiang University Science B titled
“ Chemical composition and antibacterial
activity of Gongronema latifolium”, aqueous
and methanol G. latifolium extracts were
tested against 13 pathogenic bacterial
isolates. Crude protein, lipid extract, ash,
crude fibre and nitrogen free extractives
obtained are: 27.2 per cent, 6.07 per cent,
11.6 per cent, 10.8 per cent and 44.3 per
cent dry matter respectively. Potassium,
sodium, calcium, phosphorus and cobalt
contents are 332, 110, 115, 125 and 116
mg/kg respectively.
“Dominant essential amino acids are leucine,
valine and phenylalanine. Aspartic acid,
glutamic acid and glycine are 13.8 per cent,
11.9 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively
of total amino acid. Saturated and
unsaturated fatty acids are 50.2 per cent
and 39.4 per cent of the oil respectively.
Palmitic acid makes up 36 per cent of the
total fatty acid. ”
The study was by Afolabi F. Eleyinmi of the
Department of Agricultural, Food and
Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta,
Edmonton T6G 2P5, Canada; and Food
Science and Technology Department, Federal
University of Technology, Akure 34001,
Ondo State. It reads: “The test
microorganisms used for the antimicrobial
activity screening namely: Bacillus cereus
(ATCC 14579), Bacillus subtilis (ATCC 6051),
Escherichia coli (DH5), Enterobacter
aerogenes, Enterobacter agglomerans (ATCC
27155), Salmonella enteritidis (ATCC 13076),
Salmonella cholerasius ser typhimurium
(ATCC 23564), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC
23235), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC
14207), S. aureus subsp aureus (ATCC 6538),
Enterobacter faecalis (ATCC 7080), Yersinia
enterolytica (ATCC 23715) and Listeria
monocytogenes (HBP 463).
The researchers further noted: “Extracts
show no activity against E. faecalis, Y.
enterolytica, E. aerogenes, B. cereus and E.
agglomerans. Methanol extracts were active
against S. enteritidis, S. cholerasius ser
typhimurium and P. aeruginosa (minimum
inhibitory concentration (MIC) 1 mg; zone of
growth inhibition 7, 6.5 and 7 mm
respectively). Aqueous extracts show
activity against E. coli (MIC 5 mg) and P.
aeruginosa (MIC 1 mg) while methanol
extracts are active against P. aeruginosa
and L. monocytogenes. G. latifolium has
potential food and antibacterial uses.”
The results of a study on the effect of
Gongronema latifolium extracts on serum
lipid profile and oxidative stress in
hepatocytes of diabetic rats confirmed that
the ethanolic extract of G. latifolium leaves
possessed antioxidant activity as shown by
increased superoxide dismutase and
glutathione peroxidase activities and
decreases in malondialdehyde levels.
The study led by Dr. N. H. Ugocukwu
concluded: “Lipid profile, which is altered in
the serum of diabetic patients, appears to
be a significant factor in the development
of premature atherosclerosis and includes
an increase in triglyceride and total
cholesterol levels. In this study, both
extracts significantly reduced the
triglyceride levels in treated diabetic rats
when compared to untreated diabetic rats.
“The ethanolic extract was also able to
significantly decrease the total cholesterol
concentration in treated diabetic rats when
compared to both untreated diabetic rats
and diabetic rats treated with the aqueous
extract. These reductions could be beneficial
in preventing diabetic complications as well
as improving lipid metabolism in diabetics.”
Several studies have shown that coconuts
may help benign prostatic hyperplasia. In
rats, virgin coconut oil reduced total
cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids,
Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL), and Very
Low Density Lipo-protein (VLDL) ‘bad’
cholesterol levels and increased High
Density Lipo-protein (HDL) ‘good’ cholesterol
in serum and tissues. The hexane fraction
of coconut peel may contain novel
anticancer compounds. Young coconut juice
has estrogen-like characteristics.
Inside a coconut is a cavity filled with
coconut water, which is sterile until opened.
It mixes easily with blood, and was used
during World War II in emergency
transfusions. It can also serve as an
emergency short-term intravenous
hydration fluid. This is possible because the
coconut water has a high level of sugar and
other salts that makes it possible to be used
in the bloodstream, much like the modern
lactated ringer solution or a dextrose/water
solution as an IV.
Coconut is also commonly used as a
traditional remedy in Pakistan to treat bites
from rats.[ In Brazil coconut is known as
coco-da-Bahia or coqueiro-da-India. The tea
from the husk fiber is widely used to treat
several inflammatory disorders.
According to a study on the Phytochemical
screening and antibacterial activity of
Parinari curatellifolia stem extract published
in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research,
the aqueous and organic solvent extract of
the stem of Parinari curatelifolia were
screened for phytochemical and
antibacterial activity by hole in plate
bioassay procedure.
The bacterial activity of aqueous extract of
this plant was carried out against several
bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa,
Salmonella typhi, Klebsella spp, Bacillus
Subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus.
Phytochemical constituents present in the
extract were found to include saponins,
balsams, carbohydrate, alkaloids tannins,
cardiac glycosides, flavonoids, digitalis
glycosides, phenol, terpenes and steroids.
Water (w) fraction at 2.8 g/100 ml showed
significant (P < 0.05) inhibitory activity
against all the species of microorganism
tested in this study and most effective
against S. aureus and Klebsiella spp. (P <
0.05). Methanol Extract (ME) fraction at the
same concentration was effective (P < 0.05)
on B. subtilis and P. aeruginosa. Diethyl and
n- hexane extract did not show any
antimicrobial activity (P < 0.05). The results
show that different solvent extracts of
same plant may have different
pharmacological properties.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tiger Nuts Alleviate Sickle Cell Crisis, Atherosclerosis.

Eating tiger nuts prevent crisis in
sickle cell patients and heart attack.
IT is widely known and consumed in
Nigeria by both adults and children. The
nuts can be eaten raw, roasted, dried, baked
or be made into a refreshing beverage
called kuunu.
Previous studies have shown that tiger nut
helps in preventing heart, thrombosis and
activates blood circulation. Thrombosis is
the formation of a blood clot inside a blood
vessel, obstructing the flow of blood
through the circulatory system.
Some studies have demonstrated how tiger
nut helps in preventing cancer, due to high
content of soluble glucose. It was also
found to assist in reducing the risk of colon
cancer. The nut is rich in energy content
(starch, fat, sugars and protein), mineral
(phosphorus, potassium) and vitamins E
and C. Tiger nut has also been shown to be
suitable for diabetic persons and also helps
in loosing weight.
However, recent findings suggest that
eating tiger nuts can provide soothing relief
in sickle cell anaemia and atherosclerosis
Scientifically, Cyperus esculentus, tiger nut
belongs to the plant family Cyperaceae. In
Nigeria, it is called isip akra in Efik, arigiza or
ayaa rigiza in Hausa, akihausa in Ibo, nebu
in Kanuri, efa in Nupe, ishoho in Tiv, imumu
ofio omu or erunsha in Yoruba.
Atherosclerosis (also known as
arteriosclerotic vascular disease or ASVD) is
a condition in which an artery wall thickens
as the result of a build-up of fatty materials
such as cholesterol.
Sickle-cell disease (SCD), or sickle-cell
anaemia (or anemia; SCA) or drepanocytosis,
is an autosomal recessive genetic blood
disorder, with over-dominance,
characterized by red blood cells that assume
an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape. Sickling
decreases the cells’ flexibility and results in
a risk of various complications. The sickling
occurs because of a mutation in the
haemoglobin gene. Life expectancy is
shortened, with studies reporting an
average life expectancy of 42 in males and
48 in females.
Nigerian researchers have demonstrated
the possible beneficial effect of C.
esculentus on sickle cell subjects. Until now,
C. esculentus is widely consumed in
southern Nigeria by sickle cell patients and
healthy persons alike, and there are
undocumented and unverified claims of
health improvements in sickle cell disease
persons who consumed these seeds
The study titled “Proximate composition
and in-vitro anti-sickling property of
Nigerian Cyperus esculentus (tiger nut
sedge )” was published in Trees for Life
The researchers include C.C. Monago and A.A.
Uwakwe of the Department of
Biochemistry, University of Port Harcourt,
Rivers State.
Results of this study have established the
seeds of C. esculentus consumed in
Southern Nigeria as very nutritious. The dry
seeds gave proximate values (percentage)
of 7.94, 27.54, 41.39 and 21.36 for protein,
lipid, carbohydrate and fiber respectively,
while the fresh seeds gave corresponding
values (per cent) of 3.94, 19.67, 16.19 and
15.60 for protein, lipid, carbohydrate and
fiber respectively. Compared to the
proximate values for some widely
consumed nuts already reported in
literature, the protein level of C. esculentus
(both dry and fresh) is quite low and within
the range for hickory nut (3.60 g), chestnut
(4.53 g), coconut (2.06g) and pine nut (6.81
Cyperus esculentus, however, gave
relatively high levels of fiber (21.36 per cent
and 15.60 per cent for the dry and fresh
samples) in comparison with the amounts
reported for some other nuts. The existence
of a causal relationship between the
absence of fiber in a diet and the incidence
of a wide range of diseases in man, notably
diabetes mellitus, obesity and coronary
heart disease, has long been reported. The
consumption of significant quantities of C.
esculentus would therefore not constitute a
risk factor to such pathologic states.
The caloric value of C. esculentus (429.18
Kcal/100g for dry sample) shows it could be
a reliable source of energy and can thus
provide a large portion of the daily
requirement of 2,500 to 3,000 Kcals for
adults if large quantities are consumed, as is
usually the case in Southern Nigeria.
Results of the hemoglobin-S (HbS) gelation
experiment revealed that both the methanol
and aqueous extracts of C. esculentus
possess anti-sickling activity, with the
methanol extract having a more
pronounced anti-HbS gelation activity
(possibly as a result of some anti-sickling
liposoluble factor).
The researchers wrote: “This finding holds
some relevance especially towards a
possible nutritionally-based therapeutic
handling of sickle cell patients. The use of
indigenous plants in the management of
diseases has been a common practice over
the years. It has also been suggested that
the study and understanding of
ethnobotanical information, chemical
constituents of a plant and the therapeutic
application of the plant-based medicine will
help in understanding the efficacy of the
plant as a potent remedy, extending our
knowledge of the pharmacological activity,
active principle, dosage and administration.
C. esculentus has, in this work, been
established as both nutritious and
possessing anti-sickling activity, although
the active anti-sickling principles have yet
to be elucidated.
“Sickle cell disease remains the one disease
in which the role of nutrition in its etiology
has yet to be systematically addressed.
Considering the relative abundance and
nutritional quality of this seed plant (as
confirmed in this work), it is suggested that
sickle cell (HbSS) patients might be helped in
managing their condition by consuming
these seeds and/or their extracts. Further
clinical work must now be performed to
establish the safety and efficacy of such a
regime. ”
American researchers have demonstrated
that eating tiger nut reduces the risk of
developing atherosclerosis. The study titled
“ Dietary supplementation with Cyperus
esculentus L (tiger nut) tubers attenuated
atherosclerotic lesion in apolipoprotein E
knockout mouse associated with inhibition
of inflammatory cell responses ” was
published in American Journal of
The researchers wrote: “Atherosclerosis is a
pathological process, where recruitment of
mononuclear cells results in the growth of
fibro-fatty plaques. Apolipoprotein E (ApoE)
is a legend for the uptake of lipoproteins,
and deficiency of ApoE leads to the
accumulation of low-density lipoprotein
(LDL) ‘bad cholesterol.’ Utilizing ApoE-/-
mouse, which spontaneously develop
atherosclerosis on low-fat chow diets, the
present study showed that feeding these
mice on a diet supplemented with the whole
tubers of Cyperus esculentus L (tiger nut)
resulted in attenuation of the development
of atherosclerotic lesions.
“The anti-atherosclerotic effect was
associated with a decrease in the number of
monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells
in blood, and the expression of IL-2R? and
LFA-1 by these cells. Further, in vitro
proliferation of blood and spleen cells from
tiger nut-fed ApoE-/- mice showed lower
proliferation in responses to ConA and LPS,
T and B cell mitogen, respectively. Further, in
vitro treatment of blood and spleen cells
with water or ethanol extracts of tiger nut
markedly increased their proliferation in
response to ConA. Collectively, these data
indicate that ingredients of tiger nut tubers
exhibit anti-inflammatory properties upon
inflammation, and immuno-stimulatory
effects in immuno-competent hosts. ”
Nigerian researchers have also investigated
the phytochemical composition of the tiger
nut tuber and the effect of the aqueous
extract on some biochemical parameters
such as blood glucose, serum protein,
albumin and cholesterol, white blood cells,
red blood cells, haemoglobin, erythrocyte
sedimentation rate and packed cell volume
were determined in rats administered
different concentrations of the extract.
The study titled “The Phytochemical
Composition and Some Biochemical Effects
of Nigerian Tigernut (Cyperus esculentus L.)
Tuber ” was published in Pakistan Journal of
The researchers are from the Department of
Chemical Sciences, Novena University,
Ogume, Delta State; and Department of
Biochemistry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka,
Enugu State.
The researchers wrote: “From the result of
the phytochemical analysis, the presence of
alkaloids, cyanogenic glycosides, resins,
tannins, sterols and saponins were
observed in the raw tuber, however only
alkaloids, sterols and resins were observed
in the roasted tuber. Analysis of the anti-
nutrient composition yielded oxalates
(0.25±0.65 g/100 g), phytate (1.97±0.81
mg/100 g), saponins (0.88±0.02/100 g),
tannins (9.50±0.46 mg/100 g) and
cyanogenic glycosides (1.80±0.69 mg/100
“Roasting numerically decreased the levels
of the anti-nutritive factors analysed. At the
end of the treatment period, the mean
weights of the animals increased. The blood
glucose level decreased significantly in
concentration dependent manner (p<0.05) and serum albumin level increased significantly in a concentration dependent manner (p<0.05) in the groups administered the different concentrations of the extract. “There was no significant effect (p>0.05) on
serum cholesterol and protein and on total
and differential white blood cell, red blood
cell, haemoglobin, packed cell volume and
erythrocyte sedimentation rate. The results
therefore indicate the absence of
undesirable effect in the use of the tiger nut
tuber even in the raw form at least at the
administered concentration and for the
duration of feeding. The findings are of
nutritional, health and industrial relevance
since the tuber is currently being used as
food in many homes in Nigeria. ”
According to The useful plants of west
tropical Africa Vol 1 by H. M. Burkill, a
number of preparations is made from the
tubers. Hausa of Northern Nigeria make a
sweetmeat. Very commonly the fresh tubers
are ground finely and the sappy liquid
strained off for boiling with wheat flour
and sugar. Constant stirring is necessary to
prevent lumping and cooking is continued
till the required sticky pap-like consistency
is reached. This is ‘tiger-nut milk’ or in
Ghana ‘atadwe milk.’ It must be eaten at
once as fermentation sets in quickly
rendering the preparation unfit to eat.
In S Europe (Portugal, Spain and Italy) the
plant is cultivated for the tubers for
consumption and for the preparation of a
frozen or chilled drink known as horchata
de chufas in Spain obtained by expressing
the sap and emulsified oils. In S Africa the
tubers are chewed to relieve indigestion
especially when accompanied by halitosis.
The tubers are added to food taken by
young Zulu girls to hasten the inception of
menstruation, and in China the tuber is
considered stimulant, stomachic, sedative
and tonic. In Senegal the rhizomes
(including the tubers) are taken in decoction
as a draught for stomach-troubles and as a
refreshing drink, while the leaves are
applied in a poultice to the forehead for