Acacia nilotica is a medium sized tree found in the dry parts of Africa, India, Australia, Arabia and other areas. It is used in traditional African herbal medicine and in Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine, which are traditional healing systems in India. Also known as the Indian gum arabic tree, the bark, roots, leaves and gum are the parts most commonly used for healing. Research studies are being conducted on the many potential health benefits of Acacia nilotica, confirming many of the traditional uses.
Ayurvedic medicine uses all parts of the plant including the seedpods and flowers. It is utilized to reduce fevers and stop excessive bleeding. Research in animals supports its traditional Ayurvedic use against parasitic worms. Diseases of the skin, coughs and decayed teeth are treated with the medicinal plant. Acacia nilotica is also utilized to treat diabetes and is widely employed against all types of infections.
This medicinal plant is used in India as a leucorrhea treatment. It is believed that many conditions characterized by excess mucus can be relived with its use. The tannin in the bark acts as an astringent, tightening and toning tissues, making it useful for treating excess mucus along with swollen and inflamed tissues. Acacia nilotica is also employed as a gonorrhea treatment and for urinary tract infections.
There are numerous reports of Acacia nilotica being used as a traditional medicine throughout the dry areas of Africa where the plant is found. In addition to utilizing the plant as a remedy for many of the same conditions that Indian medicine does, some specific regional uses are found in Africa. Placing the ground leaves of the plant on the eyes at night is a common conjunctivitis treatment. Teas are made from the leaves and bark to ease the symptoms of colds and pneumonia. It is also used as an intoxicant and aphrodisiac in some parts of Africa.
Modern research is confirming many of the traditional uses of the plant. Studies show that an extract of Acacia nilotica is an effective diarrhea treatment when administered to laboratory animals. The bark of Acacia niloticahas a history of use as an anti-diarrhea folk medicine and dysentery treatment in Africa and India. A decoction of the bark taken orally acts as an astringent, easing the symptoms of diarrhea and accompanying intestinal pains.
Acacia nilotica extracts have been analyzed for antioxidant properties. Although traditional medical systems do not employ this concept, the free radical scavenging action may help explain some of the plant’s benefits. Its effectiveness against fungus, especially yeast infections, is also being studied. Other promising research shows its antiviral properties may be effective against the hepatitis C virus. Research is also being conducted to determine its potential as a diabetes treatment.