Karaya gum plant: 10 great benefits of Sterculia setigera

health benefits of Sterculia setira
Sterculia setigera for sickle cell, tuberculosis, and snake venom

Africa is indeed rich in herbal plants such as Sterculia setigera, with wide spread medicinal benefits. Although the advent of colonialism and the accompanying introduction of orthodox medications made African traditional medicine to suffer a set back, with most herbal medicinal plants going into extinction due to deforestation and negligence, there has been a recent awakening across the globe towards the potency of traditional and herbal medicines to cure some stubborn diseases. Some diseases such as cancer, diabetes and viruses have been able to proper managed or treated with some combinations of herbal mixtures.

Sterculia setigera possess several health benefits, whose information you would possess by the end of this article. So get some popcorn and take a journey into this great herbal plant.

Sterculia setigera can grow up to 15 meters high, and is found majorly in the African savannah regions. It is known locally by the Hausa people as Kukuki. The Fulani people call it Bo’poli, while the English name is Karaya gum plant. Among the Yoruba people of western Nigeria, it is known as Ose-awere. All parts of the plant: the leaves, stem bark and fruit seeds are used for different medicinal purposes.

What are the benefits of Sterculia setigera?

The plant is composed of several bioactive phytochemicals that exhibit cytotoxicity against several cell lines, including microorganisms and tumor cells. Some of these phytochemicals include flavones, glycosides, tannins, saponins, phenols alkaloids and flavonoids. For topical application, the stem bark or leaf powder are used, while other preparation for oral intake are usually done by infusing the herbal parts, either in small pieces or as powder in an aqueous-alcoholic solution. The decoction/infusion is the taken till symptoms of the disease is no more.

Steculia setigera for sickle cell disease

Of the known health benefits of Steculia is its ability to revers sickled red blood cells, prevents the formation of sickle cells and inhibit red blood cell rigidity. When the red blood cells become sickle, and rigid, they block the capillary tubes carrying blood to various parts of the body. This then results to the painful crisis sickle cell patients experience, including joint pains and blood lysis. Steculia also inhibits hemoglobin polymerization, suppresses osmotic fragility of human sickled red blood cells, and reduces the percentage of sickled cells in the circulatory system.

Another way it may suppress sickle cell complications is through the activation of Ca2+-ATPase, thereby reducing the permeability of cell membrane and attendance influx of cations. These cations, when above normal concentration changes the cellular homeostasis.

The stem bark of Steculia setigera may be infused in a 60% alcoholic solutions. A cup of the decoction daily would improve sickle cell disease conditions.

some other important antisickling herbal remedies include bitter kola seed, and pigeon pea leaves, they also possess strong activity against cell lysis and rigidity, inhibit polymerization of the hemoglobin. You may combine the three together and drink their infused decoction.

Sterculia setigera is beneficial for diabetes

The stem bark of Sterculia setigera is used in the treatment of diabetes among many local African dwellers. The stem bark is infused either in water or in alcohol, or in a mixture of both. This traditional claims have also been verified scientifically, as many studies confirm the hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity of the plant extracts.

Another important property of the plant, which enhances its antidiabetic activity is the antioxidant compounds present in the stem bark of Sterculia setigera.

Diabetes is an autoimmune disease which arise as a result of the autoimmune destruction of the pancreas beta cells, thereby suppressing insulin production and glucose transportation to various cells of the body. This autoimmune destruction is usually triggered by oxidative stress. When the free radicals present in the body overpowers the natural antioxidant, glutathione, they attack cells and DNAs, thereby ushering in several autoimmune diseases.

But with the strong antioxidant compounds, and the hypoglycemic effects on diabetic patients, Sterculia setigera may the regarded as an antidiabetic agent. There are several other herbal remedy for managing diabetes such as jute leaves, soursop bitters, bitter leaf juice, Gooze grass, and monkey sugarcane.

Sterculia lowers blood cholesterol level

High cholesterol level is a risk factor for so diseases, one of which is cardiovascular diseases and obesity. When there are high low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration in the blood, they tend to be deposited on the walls of blood vessels. This can cause atherosclerosis, increased blood pressure, and finally lead to myocardial infarction. The leaves, and stem bark of Sterculia setigera, like blue oyster mushroom, have shown effectiveness at reducing not only blood sugars, but also lowering blood cholesterol levels, correcting dyslipidemia and increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL mops the blood vessels of deposited LDL cholesterol. This is why it is regarded as the good cholesterol.

Sterculia setigera for tuberculosis

Karaya gum plant is a secret herbal remedy among the Fulani people of Nigeria. Although the plant is widely known for managing different ailments, only the Fulani family in a community in Bauchi state of Northern Nigeria knew the secret antituberculotic effect of the leaves of Karaya gum plant.

The Fulani people of Nigeria are trusted when it comes to knowing herbal medicines. Their herbal formulations are highly valued and trusted, owing to their long history of selling strong herbal remedies for any ailment, whatsoever. This claim of antituberculotic of the leaves of Karaya gum plant was studied by Ibrahim, T Babalola and his research colleagues. Their study confirms the potency of Sterculia setigera as an antibacterial agent against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Fulani herders usually would want their herbal formulations, which are usually in powdered form, taken with raw pap or milk. So, the leaf powder of Sterculia setigera may be mixed in a raw pap solution of liquid milk and taken for a week or two, for effective outcome.

Sterculia setigera possess anti-snake-venom activity

Nature always responds to man’s needs. One of such instances is the possession of anti-venom activity against snake bites by some herbal remedies.

Most of the rural dwellers do not have access to affordable Medicare. It is much difficult to access medications for snake bites when one is bitten by snakes, and they are usually victims of snake bites. To cushion the deadly venom’s effect, most of the rural dwellers seek such cure from nature – the herbal plants around them.

One if such plants with antivenom benefits is Sterculia setigera. This activity is due to the phenolic compounds present in the stem bark. Studies suggest that the mechanism of action of the antivenom compounds may be through the inhibition of phospholipase A2, hyaluronidase, and/or L-amino acid oxidase of some snake venoms. It may as well be through the blockage of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor by precipitation of Naja kaouthia venom.

Sterculia setigera protects the liver from toxicity

Being rich in bioactive antioxidants, the stem bark of Karaya gum plant possess strong hepatoprotective effect against the toxic effects of oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation from fatty livers and toxicants ingested into the body.

The liver is a crucial part of the body. It is the power house and kitchen of the body. Whatever enters the body must first go through the digestive processes of the liver. This role places your liver at high risk of toxic damages. When you ingest poisonous foods or substances, it first attack the enzymes of your liver, destroying the cellular components and thus, causing cellular deaths.

Sterculia setigera is a beneficial herb for protecting the liver from liver toxicity and CCl4 induced hepatocarcinoma.

Other important benefits of Sterculia setigera

The stem bark of the plant has also been used in treating diarrhea, it is also applied topically to wounded surfaces to fasten wound healing. Some studies also recommended the use of Sterculia setigera to treat Syphilis and other bacterial infections. Acute toxicity test showed that the plant extract is not toxic and is safe for consumption at a moderate dosage.



Ibrahim, T. B. Esther, A. A, Yuehong, W. Francis O. S. (2012). Anti-TB Activity of Sterculia setigera Del., Leaves (Sterculiaceae). Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 1(3): 1-17.

Garba, Muhammad & Sherifat, M. & Abdul-Majeed, A. & Hafsa, L. & Awal, A.B. & Sa’adu, A. & Lekene, Bulus. (2018). Hepato-protective potentials of Sterculia setigera stem-bark extract on acetominophen induced hepato toxicity in Wistar albino rats. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 12. 557-562. 10.5897/JMPR2018.6672.

Ibrahim Sani, Fatima Bello, Isah Musa Fakai and Abubakar Abdulhamid. (2020). Evaluation of Antisnake Venom Activities of Some Medicinal Plants Using Albino Rats. Sch Int J Tradit Complement Med. June, 2020; 3(6): 111-117.




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