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Medicinal Plant: Kakawate – Cacao (Gliricidia sepium)

By pinoyfarmer | March 14, 2011
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Gen info
Name “gliricidia” derives from the Lain ‘glis’ (dormouse) and caedere (to kill). The Spanish name “mata-raton” refers to the tree’s rodenticial properties.

As the tree pods hang-dry in the sun, they curl and explode, making a popping cracking sound. A cluster of trees with their pods snapping and popping and falling to the ground, in unison, make a fascinating afternoon of nature’s concoction of sound.

Smooth, deciduous tree, 3 to 10 meters high.
Leavesw are opposite, oblong-ovate, 4-6 cm long with a pointed tip and rounded base.
Flowers are pink, 2 cm long, with a truncate calyx.
The pods are narrow, oblong to oblanceolate, 10 t 14 cm longs, 2 cm wide, containing 6 to 8 seeds.

The tree is common in the southern Tagalog areas, shedding leaves around December and flowering February and March. In some areas, the blooming of its pink flowers is so profuse to deserve a comparison with the cherry blossoms.

Parts utilized
Leaves, bark, roots.

Constituents and properties
Phytochemical studies have yielded:
• Aformosin (an isoflavan, reportedly with anti-tumor capacity), formononetin (isoflavan), gliricidin-6a, gliricidol-9A, medicarpin (pterocarpan, reportedly antifungal), 7,4′-dihydroxy-3′-methoxyisoflavin, 2′O-methylsepiol, tannin and a trihydroxyflavonone.
• Tannins are considered potentially antidiarrheal, antidysenteric, antimutagenic, antioxidant, bactericidal, hepatoprotective, pesticidal and viricidal.
• From the heartwood were isolated stigmastanol glucoside and 3′,4′-dihydroxy-trans-cinnamic acid octacosylester 2 along with three other known constituents.

Dermatitis, skin itching: Apply juice or decoction of leaves, bark or roots on the skin as antipruritic.
Fresh leaves applied to the skin as insect repellant.
As counterirritant: Crush leaves and apply as poultice for rheumatic pains, sprains and closed fractures.
Sap of bark, leaves and roots have been used for wound healing.
Treatment of scabies.
In Guatemala, the bark and leaves are used to treat skin diseases.
In many folkloric regimens of other countries, used for headache, bruises, burns, colds, cough, fever, fatigue, gangrene, gonorrhea, skin itches and sores; as antidote, insecticide, insect repellent.

Wood is hard and durable used for small housing needs, posts, implement handles and firewood.
Leaves have a fetid smell; crushed, used to rid dogs of fleas and ticks and cattle, of ticks.
The juice from leaves is applied to daily for one week to areas affected by external parasites,
Insect repellent: In Latin American, used by farmers to repel insects. Leaves are ground up, mixed with water, and the resulting paste use to bathe animals, and repeated every 7 to 14 days, decreasing the infections from tropical warble fly.

• Anti-Pseudomonas: Potential as anti-pseudomonas drug: Crude extract of Gliricidium sepium showed potential antipseudomonas drug potential with an in vitro study showing a minimum inhibitory concentration at 1%.
• Anti-Scabies: Clinical Trail on the Effectiveness of Gliricidia sepium (kakawati) in Treating Patients with Scabies: The study concluded that the “kakawati” preparation is as effective as sulfur lotion in the treatment of scabies.
• Antimicrobial: (1) Study of 10 medicinal plants in Colombian folk medicine, including G sepium, was done screening for antimicrobial activity. The ethanol extracts were all active against S aureus except for J secunda. (2) A possible alternative in the treatment of non-nosocomial infections: G. sepium was one of ten medicinal plants screened for antimicrobial activity, all of which were found effective against three or more pathogenic microorganisms, corroborating their use in folkloric medicine.
• Saponins: Study yielded three new hederagenin-based acetylated saponins from the fruits of Gliricidia sepium.
• Insecticidal / Nematicidal / Antibacterial: Study showed nematicidal activity against Meloidogyne incognita nematode with 60% mortalilty; mosquito repellent activity against Aedes aegypti with maximum 78% repellency; and antibacterial activity agaiinst E. coli, S aureus, Pseudomonas spp, S typhi and Klebsiella spp with best results against E Coli.
• Antimicrobial: Study on the antimicrobial activity on the bark of five tree species showed G sepium to have antimicrobial effects against S epidermis, S aureus, P aeruginosa, B pumillus and V cholerae.

Preparation for scabies treatment
Courtesy of: Dr. Joel Bañez, Section of Dermatology, UERMMH
1. White candelsticks (4)
2. Coconut oil or any cooking oil: 500 cc
3. Kakawati leaves 250 g

1. Clean kakawati leaves thoroughly
2. Chop leaves finely
3. Add 250 g (approximately 1 glass) of finely chopped leaves into 2 glasses of coconut oil.
4. Mix while boiling.
5. Gather leaves on the surface of the oil, then drain using a strainer.
6. Get 4 white candles (‘esperma”) and chop finely.
7. Add to the boiled preparation and mix until all chopped candles are melted.
8. Again, using a strainer, drain and transfer mixture into a clean glass container. Let it cool.

• Tannins: In South America, in times of scarcity, the forage is fed to livestock. Although goats can consume large quantities of plants with tannins, some animals, like cattle and sheep may not tolerate it due to a salivary protein binding factor that biinds the tannins.


Philippine Medicinal Plants


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