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MAP 27 - Geographic distribution of Quassia africana
- 179 -
1. BOTANICAL NAME: Rauvolfia caffra Sond.
SYNONYMS: Rauvolfia natalensis Sond.
Rauvolfia inebrians K. Schum.
Rauvolfia ochrosioides K. Schum.
Rauvolfia goetzi Stapf
Rauvolfia obliquinervis Stapf
FAMILY : Apocynaceae
COMMON NAMES: Quinine Tree; Mwembemwitu, Mkufi (Kiswahili), Msesewe, Mseseve
(Kimeru, Kichagga), Mweti (Kisambaa), Muveliveli (Kihehe), Mlolo
(Kividunda), Oljabokalyan (Kimassai), Mlengwelengwe (Kinguu),
Njavokalia oltawakalian (Kiarusha), Mtwentwe (Kibende), Mkongo
(Kigogo), Msumai (Kirangi)* Mwerere (Kikuyu), Mbaribari (Taveta),
Mutu (Meru), Mwimbi (Bemba,Kaonde , Tonga ), Mutoto (Kaonde,Lunda) ,Mutochi
(Lunda), Muyesani, Mpambamvula, Msabua, Mvumbamvula, Mwimbe (Nyanja).
2. ECOLOGY AND DISTRIBUTION
Rauvolfia caffra is widely distributed in the riverine Brachystegia woodland,
lowland rain forest, dry montane forest and montane rain forest of the highlands ot
eastern and southern Africa. It grows on loamy sands to sandy clay loam soils of
mainly volcanic origin at altitudes between 500 and 2100m, in areas receiving an
annual rainfall between 500 to over 1270mm.
It occurs in Zaire, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
Transvaal, Natal, Cape and Zululand (see distribution map).
A much-branched tree to 35m high, 1.5m or more in diameter; bole straight, slightly
buttressed, bark light brown or greyish-white with irregular fissures; slash cream,
exuding a bitter white latex; crown dense. Leaves in crowded whorls, simple, stipules
absent; blade oblanceolate to linear-oblanceolate , 6-32cm long, 1.5-7cmwide, apex
obtuse to acute of subacuminate, base cuneate, margins entire, glabrous, shiny green
above, paler below, lateral nerves 18-30 pairs; petiole 0.5-6cm long. Inflorescence
a terminal compound umbel, peduncle 2-6cm long, bracts minute; flowers bisexual, 5-merous,
pedicels 1mm long. Calyx cup-shaped, 1mm long, 5-toothed or lobed; corolla salver-shaped,
white, tube 3-4. 5mm long, lobes ovate, 1mm long, mouth filled with whitish hairs; stamens 5,
inserted above the middle; ovary of 2 more-or-less united carpels, often only one
developing. Fruit a subglobose to obovoid drupe, smooth and green at first, becoming
wrinkled and blackish-purple, 1-1. 5cm long, 2cm in diameter if 2-seeded; seeds 1 or 2,
white, ovoid-compressed, endosperm fleshy.
In Tanzania flowering occurs during the long rains, extending into the dry season up
to the onset of the short rains, i.e. March to November; fruit ripens during the dry
season extending into the short rainy season up to the long dry season, i.e. from
February to November. It takes about 9-10 months between fertilization of the flower and
ripening of the fruit.
- 180 -
4. ESTABLISHED MODERN PHARMACEUTICAL USES
Chhdra (Pers. Comm.) reports that the pharmacological studies of the plant have
shown it to be central depressant. It has sedative action and an antihypertensive
effect accompanied by brachycardia . According to Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) a
bitter alkaloid which is isolated from the plant has an antimalarial reputation.
R. caf fra alkaloid (reserpine) exerts important effects on behaviour and on
autonomic functions; it has been very useful in the treatment of hypertension and
5. FOLK MEDICINAL USES
The root of the plant, R. caf fra is traditionally used for treating insomnia and
insecurity. Kokwaro (1976) Generic Sucralfate reports that a bark decoction is drunk as a medicine for
general body swellings, rheumatism and pneumonia. Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1962)
observed that the stem and root bark are used as an ascaricide attj&the powdered
unopened inflorescence as a local application to sores on the legs.
The root juice, mixed with honey, is applied to fractures. The bark has been
used as an astringent and as a colic remedy. Harjula Buy Sucralfate Online (1980) observed that the root
bark is dried and ground or pounded while fresh and an infusion prepared for remedy of
roundworms and tapeworm.
R. caf fra acts as a purgative and/or an emetic. The R. caffra bark is used as a
cure for coughs, stitch and toothache.
6. MAJOR CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS AND MEDICINAL PRODUCTS
Chhdra (Pers. Comm.) observed that a chemical analysis of R. caffra has shown that
it contains ten alkaloids, some of these are a j ma line, raucaf fricine, rescinnamine,
reserpine, serpentine, yohimbine, etc.
Harjula (1980) reports that the plant contains many alkaloids e.g. reserpine,
rauwolfine, rescinnamine. Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) report that the bark yields
0.6 to 0.7 per cent of alkaloids.
Other estimates give 0.8 per cent from the root, 3.0 per cent from the root bark and
1.2 per cent from the stem bark. A crystalline alkaloid rauvolfine and bitter alkaloid
have been isolated from R. caf Ira.
7. HARVESTING, CONSERVING AND PREPARATION
The bark is obtained from the stem, dried, pounded and the powder obtained is
preserved in bottles. The powder is mixed with water to form an infusion which is used
for various remedies. The root is excavated, Buy Sucralfate washed, cut into pieces and boiled to form
a decoction. Alternatively the root is debarked, the bark dried and then ground to form
the powder which is used to make an infusion. The leaves are plucked, pounded and boiled
to make a decoction and normally are not stored.
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