The demand for herbal medication has been on the rise over the last few years. One of the most common plants is akuamma, also commonly referred to as Picralima Nitida. This herb has been widely applied in folk medicine, thanks to its mixture of alkaloids that have antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects among other health benefits of akuamma.
Seeds, leaves and stem barks of this plant have been used in traditional medicine for a long time, mainly in western Africa countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. The herb’s extracts are then used to help get relief from various conditions, including malaria, fevers, gastrointestinal disorders, and jaundice among others.
The main alkaloids making the plant highly potent and effective include;
- Akuammidine- this is the seeds’ main alkaloid and works by influencing opioid binding sites. The alkaloid provides analgesic qualities to help in eradicating pain as well as serving as a muscle relaxant.
- Akuammine- this alkaloid has a higher affinity for mu-opioid binding sites, unlike the Akuammidine. It helps with providing analgesic effects, however, may cause an inhibitory impact on the peristaltic movement of the intestines if used in higher doses.
- Akuammicine- this alkaloid, on the other hand, has a higher affinity for kappa-opioid binding sites.
- Pseudo-Akuammigine- this alkaloid provides both anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Depending on the dosage, the alkaloid excites, modulates the skeletal muscle contraction, smooth muscle contraction, central nervous system, and respiration.
- Akuammigine- this one has only shown to have an anti-adrenergic effect on blood vessels as well as the heart.
- Pericine- this one has been indicated to bind to mu-opioid receptors, however, may cause convulsions resulting in involuntary contraction of muscles.
Akuamma is today considered as a better alternative to other harsh substances as it guarantees holistic pain relief. This has further prompted extensive medical research on the plant to understand the integrity of its medical value better. Among the many health benefits of akuamma include;
1) Anti-Malarial Activity
The active alkaloid, Akuammine is responsible for the anti-malarial activity. This makes akuamma one of the strongest anti-malarial herbs used all over the world. Extracts from akuamma seeds, stem bark, and fruit rind have been indicated to have inhibitory activity against drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum thus supporting the fact that the herb is a potential anti-malarial drug.
2) Trypanocidal Activity
Akuamma seeds are known to have an anti-parasitic effect on specific parasites especially Trypanosoma, which is a parasitic protozoan causing various ailments like sleeping sickness among others. Scientific studies have also proved the trypanocidal effects of akuamma seeds.
3) Anti-Leishmanial Activity
Picralima Nitida is one of the plants whose extracts have been evaluated for anti-leishmanial activity using a mechanism-based radiorespirometric microtechnique and results confirmed activity against Leishmania donovani at 50 or fewer micrograms/ml.
4) Antipyretic Activity
According to a preliminary pharmacological study on the methanolic extract of akuamma, the results showed potent and dose-dependent antipyretic activity with higher mean percentage Antipyrexia (38.7%) compared to that of aspirin (29.0%). This medicinal value of this herb justifies why it is still common in many countries in W. Africa.
5) Analgesic Activity
The alkaloids extracted from akuamma have been indicated to have opioid analgesic activity. Over time, individuals have turned to use akuamma seed to get rid of the pain caused by such conditions as migraines, fibromyalgia, and arthritis among others effectively.
It is even regarded as a better alternative to opiates that come with withdrawal side effects and addiction. The seeds from this plant are purely natural and have very few side effects. You may as well take the seeds for sore muscles to get immediate pain relief after roughly 15-30 minutes.
6) Anti-Inflammatory Activity
Alkaloid extracts from akuamma have been investigated for anti-inflammatory activity and results indicated that pseudo-Akuammigine significantly reduced the mean maximal and total swelling after oral administration of the alkaloid.
7) Anti-Diarrhoeal Activity
Akuamma plant has been widely used traditionally in the W. African countries to cure many health conditions including dysentery among other gastrointestinal disorders.
According to a study to determine the anti-shigellosis activity of the methanol extract of akuamma on Shigella dysenteriae type 1 induced diarrhea in rats, it was observed that the extract had antimicrobial effects on eleven out of the 17 pathogenic strains tested.
The extract remarkably reduced the frequency of feces released. From these findings, it is evident that Picralima Nitida extracts are very effective in eliminating gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea.
8) Antioxidant and Anti-Diabetic Activities
Diabetes Mellitus is a common metabolic condition usually associated with oxidative stress and characterized by chronic hyperglycemia.
According to medical studies investigating the antioxidant and ant-diabetic potential of methanol extracts of the leaves and stems of akuamma plant, it was observed that the methanol leaf extract of the herb exhibited remarkable hypoglycemia activity with roughly 38% of glycemia reduction thanks to the alkaloid-akuammicine, which is believed to promote glucose uptake of the cells, thus reducing the level of glucose in the bloodstream.
From these findings, it is evident that akuamma plant has both antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties hence can be used to effectively treat diabetes mellitus as well as serve as the basis upon which new and powerful drugs can be developed to help in the treatment of diabetes and related health conditions.
9) Sedative Activity
The seed extracts of this herb are known to minimize stress and anxiety to give one a calming, soothing, and generally relaxing effect. It has also been indicated to help counter panic attacks whereas it is also considered for sedation purposes by people who experience sleep problems like insomnia and nightmares.
The seeds have strong sedative properties hence guarantee the most peaceful sleep if taken just before bedtime. It is also reported that the calming effects of the herb will be experienced almost immediately allowing you to enjoy a good rest free of pain, stress or anxiety.
10) Anti-Ulcer Activity
A study evaluating the anti-ulcer activity of the methanol extract, methanol fractions and chloroform of akuamma seeds revealed that the fractions and extracts of the herb produced a remarkable reduction in ulcer index as well as total acidity and pepsin activity.
Instead, an increase in Mucoprotective parameter was established. The ulcer-inhibition property of this herbal plant adds up to the many health benefits the plant is known for.
Picralima Nitida (akuamma) has been widely applied in African folk medicine in specific countries of West Africa with various parts including seeds, leaves, stem barks, fruits, fruit pulp, and roots used as the remedy for different health conditions.
From the research above, the tropical plant has been proven to aid I treatment of such ailments as malaria, fevers, dysentery, diabetes, pain, ulcers, and many other inflammatory conditions.
According to the research, a phytochemical review of the various parts of akuamma reveals the presence of active alkaloids and other essential compounds that served several pharmacological activities including antipyretic, analgesic, antiprotozoal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, and antioxidant activities among others.
According to these findings and revelations, it is evident that the African herb is widely applicable in herbal medicine and offers a perfect opportunity for more research to be undertaken with the intention to explore more pharmacological and therapeutic values of the plant.
Akuamma seeds are said to have the same effects as those of popularly known Kratom seeds since they both work as an opiate receptor agonist.
However, Akuamma is said to have milder but lasting and stable effects. Kratom has been reported to have properties that expose users to risks of dependence, addiction, and abuse hence the reason why it has been banned in many countries across the world.
Though the decision to use either of the two is a personal decision, it now seems clear that many people would prefer Akuamma due to its safety of use and the many health benefits of akuamma one is likely to get at the end of the day.
A lot has been said about the health benefits of Akuamma, but one may be left wondering if the plant never has the negative side of it. Well, not much has been reported except for the mild side effects like nausea, headache and stomach upsets especially when taken in excess doses of more than 10gms.