Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Out Of Africa

There are some interesting projects and developments happening around the world with indigenous plants and their traditional uses.

Africa has a rich history of traditional plant use that is now being looked at to help the people in certain areas develop businesses and conserve nature at the same time. Research into plants with a history of medicinal use is being done to validate folklore and science is doing just that in a number of cases.

One such plant is the lelechwa shrub, Tarchonanthus camphoratus L. Traditionally the plant is used in various ways and one of those is that it is burned and the smoke inhaled to help respiratory problems. Animals that rub against the plant were observed to have unblemished skin compared to the same animal species in areas where the plant does not grow. The essential oil is now being added to cosmetics. Like any essential oil, it should be used cautiously. Essential oils are not meant to be used in quantity or straight but blended with a carrier oil and not ingested.

The plant itself has been shown in research to be even more valuable in raw form. There are other constituents that contribute to its strength as an antibacterial, antiviral product. The smoke of the leleshwa shrub has been shown to be effective for respiratory ailments in vitro (in the lab). The leleshwa shrub is a sustainable resource.

In 2008, a U.S. patent was granted to inventor Kuki Gallman for a hair treatment that contains the aqueous portion of leleshwa which was normally discarded during the steam distillation process to obtain the essential oil. The aqueous portion of leleshwa may prove to stimulate human hair growth.

More information can be found in the following:

Kuki Gallmann Patent

The Gallmann Memorial Foundation

Antibacterial and antifungal activities of Tarchonanthus camphoratus essential oil

How plant constituents work together

The antimicrobial activity of Tarchonanthus camphoratus

Validation of smoke inhalation therapy