Acacia nilotica has been rightly described as a multipurpose medicinal plant. And it rightly wears that crown due the several health benefits of the acacia nilotica leaves. It is commonly grown across the globe and known by different names such as Babhul, babool, prickly acacia, Indian gum, Arabic tree, gum Arabic tree and eso booni in Yoruba.
The tree, which is medium in size, thorny, nearly ever green, but shades off its leaves during the mid-harmattan, can reach a height of 20-25 meter but may remain a shrub in a poor environmental condition.
The leaves are long, alternate and compound with 7 to 36 pairs of elliptical, broad, grey-green hairy leaflets. The flowers are sweetly scented and bright to golden yellow in color. The fruits are brownish in color when they are mature. The pods contain seeds inside which are covered by edible fibrous material.
Bioactive compounds present in Acacia Nilotica Leaves
Various parts of Acacia nilotica are endowed with several bioactive phytochemicals. The leaves of A. Nilotica contain several such phytochemicals as saponins, glucosides, hydrolysable tannins, triterpenoids flavonoids, phenol, alkaloids, and volatile oil, which are extensively useful in treating various health related issues.
Acasia nilotica leaves also possess such bioactive compounds as ϒ-sitosterol which are soluble in ethanol, D-pinitol, which mimic insulin, epigenin, 6-8-bis-D-glucosides, volatile oils, which are soluble in chloroform. Another is quercetin.
Health benefits of Acacia nilotica leaves
Acacia nilotica leaves possess multiple health benefits and can be applied to several human diseases. Some of these benefits are discussed in details below.
Nilotica leaves may prevent diabetes.
The leaves of A. nilotica possess tremendous antidiabetic properties and could be employed in treating diabetic patients. In several studies conducted on the aqueous, ethanolic and methanolic extracts, the leaves were recorded to significantly decrease serum glucose and triglyceride levels.
The aqueous extract of A. nilotica also caused a return of the lipid profile to normal level, while the methanolic extract did not affect the cholesterol level.
These research findings support the traditional use of babhul leaves in the treatment of diabetes.
Acacia nilotica leaves possess antimalarial properties
The leaves can be used in treating malaria. It hindered the growth of plasmodium schizonts of plasmodium falciparum after 96 hours of administration, in a research. This also supported the traditional use of A. nilotica leaves as an alternative medicine for treating malaria parasite. The roots of A. nilotica however, possess stronger antiparasitic activity against plasmodium falciparum than the leaves.
Plasmodium falciparum is the most widely distributed and cause t e severest malaria infection. It feeds on the red blood cells and can cause pneumonia.
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May Be Used in Treating Cancer and Tumor
Among the several health benefits of Acacia nilotica leaves, its use in cancer prevention and treatment makes it an invaluable herbal remedy.
Cancers and other forms of tumors have become global health burdens. The increase in the number of breast and prostate cancer patients among women and men respectively, has stirred a serious concern across the globe. Luckily, there has been an equal increase in research into alternative cancer chemotherapeutic agents, and Acacia nilotica is one of such great promises for treating cancer and tumors.
In various studies conducted on the aqueous and methanolic extracts, the leaves of A. nilotica exhibited strong potency against anthracene induced skin papillogenesis in mice, cytotoxic activity against two cell lines, which are Hela and Vero but did not affect the red blood cells.
These studies support the use of Acacia in treating cancer and other tumors.
Acacia nilotica Leaves Possess Strong Antioxidants
this is another important health benefits of A. nilotica leaves. The leaves possess phytol and α-tocopherol, which are strong antioxidants. These antioxidants protect your body from harmful effects of free radicals such as cell death, heart disease and cancers, early aging due to damages caused by oxidations, and make your skin glow and look youthful.
ϒ-sitosterol Present In The Leaves Lowers Cholesterol
Aside being an active compound that elicits toxicity and cellular apoptosis in cancer cells, ϒ-sitosterol also lowers your cholesterol level by enhancing the transportation of glucose by insulin.
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Possess Anti-obesity Activity.
In addition to its antidiabetic and cholesterol lowering ability, the leaves of A. nilotica is employed in managing obesity. The glucose clearance and cholesterol reduction may be the mechanism by which A. nilotica leaves perform their anti-obesity activity. Another active compound is D-pinitol.
The Leaves Are Used In Treating Pains, Inflammation And Fever.
The leaves of A. nilotica are employed in treating several forms of body pains and inflammation. For people with various forms of arthritis, A. nilotica would be a good home remedy for managing and treating them. They are also home remedy for fever. The leaves also prevent hangover due to alcoholic intake. So, when next you go out for a party and get yourself drunk from excess beer, just take a handful of fresh A. nilotica leaves, chew and swallow before going to bed.
Protects The Liver and Kidney
One other health benefits of Acacia nilotica leaves is its ability to protect the liver and kidney from damage due to exposure to free radicals and toxic agents. Several other herbs like watercress juice also possess strong nephro- and hepato-protectivs benefits.
Best 3 Herbal Preparations Of A. Nilotica Leaves
A. Babhul leaf tea preparation.
Babhul tea can be prepared using either the fresh or dry leaves.
Ai. For the fresh leaf tea:
- Get a moderate quantity of the fresh leaves.
- Boil clean water in a pot or kettle.
- Put the fresh leaves and lower the temperature.
- Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Filter the tea and drink warm.
Aii. For dry leaf tea preparation:
- Pluck enough quantity of the fresh leaves.
- Wash and spray out in a wide and clean environment under shade from the sun.
- Allow to dry and then grind into powdered form.
- Sieve and repeat the till it all become powder.
- Store in a dry container.
- Take one or two spoon of the powdered leaves.
- Put in a tea beg, like the Lupton tea, and deep into a cup of hot water.
- Allow to extract for 15 minute.
- Add ginger, honey, orange juice for taste and flavor (optional).
- Enjoy your herbal tea.
B. Acacia herbal decoction
- Get half a liter of dry gin.
- Top it to one liter with water.
- Pluck a good amount of the fresh leaves.
- Wash thoroughly and put them into the aqueous ethanol mixture.
- Allow for 24 hours to extract the bioactive compounds.
- Start drinking your herbal remedy.
Note: Do not drink more than 30 ml at a time.
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C. Acacia herbal powder
As in Aii above, the powder is kept in an air dry container. The usage however, is quite different. In this method, instead of making a tea with it, the powder is added to Pap or Milk and drank. This method makes it possible to enjoy full health benefits of Acacia nilotica leaves, as some bioactive compounds are all taking into the body along the powder. In the tea preparation, some compounds which are not soluble in water are lost.
The several health benefits of Acacia nilotica leaves make it a good candidate for home remedies. However, when taking any herbal remedy, if you start noticing any unusual reactions, stop and go see your doctor. Do not replace your doctor with herbal remedies.
Alli L, Adesokan A, Salawu O, Akanji M, Tijani A. Anti-plasmodial activity of aqueous root extract of Acacia nilotica. African Journal of Biochemistry Research 2011; 5: 214–9.
Alli L, Adesokan A, Salawu A. Antimalarial activity of fractions of aqueous extract of Acacia nilotica root. Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology 2016; 5: 180–5.
Asad M, Aslam M, Munir TA, Nadeem A. Original article effect of Acacia nilotica leaves extract on hyperglycaemia , lipid profile and platelet aggregation in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. J Ayub Med Coll Abbottabad 2011; 23: 3–7.
Saha MR, Dey P, Sarkar I et al. Acacia nilotica leaf improves insulin resistance and hyperglycemia associated acute hepatic injury and nephrotoxicity by improving systemic antioxidant status in diabetic mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2018; 210: 275–86.
Natarajan M, Srinivasan M. Antidiabetic and antioxidant activity of Acacia nilotica leaf on alloxan induced diabetic rats. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences 2015; 6: B110–26.
Mukundi MJ, Piero NM, Mwaniki NE et al. Antidiabetic Effects of Aqueous Leaf Extracts of Acacia nilotica in Alloxan Induced Diabetic
Ezeamagu CO, Ezeamagu, CA, Dangoggo SM. Antidiarrhoeal Properties of Acacia Nilotica Leaves on Ileum of Guinea Pig and Castor Oil-Induced Diarrhoea in Rats., 2013.
Khan T, Gohel A. Free radical scavenging activity of Acacia nilotica pods. Indian Drugs 2014; 51: 14–22.
Subhaswaraj P, Sowmya M, Jobina R, Sudharshan SJ, Dyavaiah M, Siddhardha B. Determination of antioxidant potential of Acacia nilotica leaf extract in oxidative stress response system of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2017; 97: 5247–53.