Over the past years, plants have become an indispensable source of food and medicine. To a larger extent, most people depend greatly on medicinal plants as an important source of remedy and treatment for most casual and life-threatening diseases.
As a result, there is a growing demand all over the world for these medicinal plants. Aside from tackling diseases, people are resorting more to these medicinal plants as a means of reducing the use of chemical (orthodox) medicines that could potentially be detrimental to human health.
Interestingly, most of these plants are used in our everyday cooking as herbs, spices, seasonings and preservatives. But the truth is that we often consume most of these essential medicinal plants in the form of spices without even acknowledging what our bodies gain from them.
Furthermore, the use of these medicinal plants as food, preservatives, spices and as instrument for preventing and tackling the development of microorganisms in human bodies has become an area of extensive studies. One of such valuable medicinal plants is Aridan. This plant is botanically known as Tetrapleura tetraptera and it is a flowering plant that belongs to the mimosaceae or pea family.
Aridan is a deciduous tree that sheds its leaves annually and grows approximately 20 to 25 meters in height. It is distinguished by round smallish crown that tends to flatten when old. Younger trees of Tetrapleura tetraptera have slender bole however, the older ones have low and sharp buttresses. The grey-brownish bark has a very smooth texture while the leaves are glabrous and hairy in appearance. It bears up to 5-10 pairs of pinnae that measure approximately 5 to 10 cm long with 6 to12 leaves on both sides of the pinna stalk. The top of the tree can be marginally notched sometimes while the base is basically hairless with slender stems.
Tetrapleura tetraptera bears flowers that are sort of cream and pink in colour but they tend to change to orange colour on maturity. The flowers are located in the upper leaf axils and are always in pairs with short stamens and slender stalks. The aridan fruit hangs on stout stalks at the edges of the branches and they are characteristically brownish in colour. The fruit (pod) measures about 15 to 25 cm long and is distinguished by its 4 longitudinal ridges that are slightly curved.
Two of the ridges are woody while the other two contains soft, aromatic and oily pulp. The pod contains tiny, hard seeds that measure approximately 8 mm long. The fruit is distinguished by its fleshy pulp when fresh but this fleshy pulp tends to be very strong when dried. The inner part of the aridan fruit is characterised by tiny black-brownish seeds.
Aridan is highly sought after due to its high medicinal and aromatic values and as such it is used for several purposes ranging from culinary, healing, therapeutic to cosmetology. Researchers also reveal that this plant has anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, anti-ulcerative, molluscicidal and anti-microbial properties.
Other Local Names of Aridan
Being originally from Western Africa, various countries and tribes from this part of the world have different names for the aridan plant for example; the Igbo part of Nigeria refers to aridan as oshosho or osakirisa, Yoruba in Nigeria calls it aidan, aiden, ubukirihu, Efik calls it edeminang, Ibibio calls it Uyayak, Hausa calls it dawo, and it is also known as taub. Also the Twi in Ghana refers to it as prɛkɛsɛ or prekese.
Nutrition Facts of Aridan (Tetrapleura tetraptera)
Aridan is highly valuable because it contains a high amount of essential phytochemicals and nutrients that are vital for the healthy functioning of the body. It is an excellent source of potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, flavonoids, phosphorous, tannins, alkaloids, saponins, steroids and phenolic compounds. It also contains 234.42 to 379.48g/cal of food energy, 7.44% to 17.50% of crude protein and 4.98% – 20.36% of crude lipid.
How to Use Aridan
Aridan pods can be crushed, ground, grated or broken into tiny pieces before adding to food or using for medicinal purposes. Alternatively, the pod can be broken into two or added whole to food during preparation but in this case, remember to scoop it out from the food before serving. It is important to add this spice a lot more earlier in the food while cooking so that it can infuse properly for more flavourful and aromatic smell. For herbal medicines, the stem, bark, root, leaves and pods of aridan can be infused, boiled, soaked, squeezed, extracted, crushed or transformed into concoctions.
Benefits of Tetrapleura Tetraptera (Aridan)
1. Contraceptive Properties
Saponin and ethanol extract from the stem and bark of this plant has an inhibitory effect on luteinizing hormone released by the pituitary gland. This suggests why this plant equally serves as a contraceptive.
2. Management of convulsion
In folk medicine, both the stem, leaves and fruit of the uyayak are used for producing herbal concoction for managing convulsion. Studies reveal that the aqueous extract of this plant exhibits anticonvulsant activities and this confirms it’s inhibitory effects on the central nervous system.
3. Management of Leprosy
Studies reveal that aridan can be used for treating leprosy, which is an infectious disease that affects mainly the skin, nerves and the mucous membranes thereby causing blemishes and lumps on the skin. Severe cases of leprosy can lead to deformities and mutilation.
4. Anti-inflammatory Properties
The extract of this plant is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and this suggests its inhibitory impacts against certain human pathogens. As a result, it can be used for reducing inflammation of the body, arthritic pains and rheumatoid pains.
5. Culinary Purposes
Dried taub fruit is known for its distinguished aromatic and flavorful fragrance and as such used as a spice for flavouring assorted dishes such as meat pepper soup, palm kernel soup (banga soup or ofe akwu), nsala (white soup), fish pepper soup etc. To use this spice, you can either crush it before adding to food or break into smaller portions before adding in the food while cooking.
6. Supports the Cardiovascular System
Aridan supports the cardiovascular system due to its constituents of essential phytochemical and as such can be used for preventing and treating heart diseases.
7. Molluscicidal Properties
Studies reveal that the aqueous extracts from the stalk, leaves, stem, bark and roots of the aridan plant contain molluscicidal properties. This suggests why this plant acts as a pesticide for fighting against molluscs and pests.
Aridan is normally used in gardening, planting and agriculture for offering protections and control against gastropod pests especially snails and slugs that feed on/damage crops and other valuable plants in the farmland.
8. Dermatological Care
The fruit can be dried and blended into powdered form for producing dermatological products such as soap. The great attention drawn towards the use of this plant for manufacturing soap is due to its high antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
It is worthy to note that the aridan plant helps to promote soap foaming as well as its hardness. To make soap with aridan, the dried powdered herbs can be combined with shea butter, palm kernel oil or any other bases of choice. Soaps produced with these three key ingredients have superior qualities unlike those with individual base.
9. Treatment of Hypertension
In folk medicine, the stem and bark extracts of taub (Tetrapleura tetraptera) can be used for preventing and treating hypertension. Researchers agree that Tetrapleura tetraptera is effective for preventing high blood pressure and for improving the oxidative position in salt model of hypertension patients.
10. Treatment of Diabetes
The stem and bark extracts of Tetrapleura tetraptera (Taub) can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating diabetes.
11. Supports the Immune System
Being an excellent source of key vitamins such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, aridan helps to strengthen our immune system.
Iron helps to regenerate lost blood, zinc offers protection against viruses especially those that can cause respiratory tract infections while calcium and potassium helps to manage, prevent and control bones and muscles disorders.
12. Post-partum Care
Aridan pod is traditionally used for preparing special soups for newborn mothers immediately they put to bed in other to avoid post-partum contraction. Although aridan can be used alone for this sort of postnatal soup preparation however, it can be used together with piper guineese, gongronema latifolium and scotch bonnet pepper for superior action. Using this spice for post-partum care is attributed to its high constituents of calcium, iron and potassium, which are very important for new mothers. Furthermore, it helps to restore and replenish lost blood for new mothers and promotes lactation.
13. Wound Healing Properties
Aridan pods contain essential chemical compounds such as flavonoids, triterpenoid glycoside (aridanin) and phenols, which have been reported effective for healing wounds.
14. Anti-oxidizing Properties
Taub is an excellent source of antioxidants such as polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins and flavonoids. Antioxidants help to protect our body from oxidative damage by scavenging for free radicals thereby preventing peroxidation.
It is important to note that free radicals and reactive oxygen species formed during oxidation process contribute immensely to diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes as well as ageing. Aridan fruit has a remarkable chemodiversity due to its constituents of polyphenols. It also has a strong radical reducing and scavenging abilities.
15. Treatment of Asthma
Traditionally, this plant can be used for treating asthma.
16. Treatment of Schistosomiasis
Studies reveal that aridan can be used for treating schistosomiasis. This is an infection that is also known as snail fever or bilharziasis caused by parasitic flukes of the genus Schistosoma.
This infection occurs mainly in the tropical regions and eastern Asia and is mostly transmitted to humans through snails or fecal-contaminated fresh water. Common symptoms of schistosomiasis include anemia, pain, fever and breakdown of the infected organs.
17. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
The fruit can be used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting etc due to its constituents of phytochemicals.
18. Antibacterial Ability
Researchers reveal that water extracts and alcoholic mixture of the aridan fruit can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. The presence of glycosides and tannins in ethanolic and water extracts of aridan have been proven effective for inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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