Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 3, 20: 171 (1867).
Goat weed (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Synclisia scabrida occurs from Nigeria east to the Central African Republic and south to DR Congo and Angola.
In Nigeria and Cameroon an alcoholic leaf decoction is drunk to treat gastric ulcers. In Nigeria the root soaked in alcohol or macerated in boiling water is taken to treat malaria, to prevent threatened abortion and as a common medicine to calm patients with mental disorders, e.g. psychoses. In Gabon the bitter root, sometimes mixed with stem bark of Garcinia klainii Pierre ex Engl., is put in palm wine, which is drunk to treat venereal diseases and as an aphrodisiac and also to treat prostate problems, asthma and hernia. In Congo pregnant women may tie a piece of liana around the waist to avoid spontaneous abortion.
In Gabon a root decoction is used in trial by ordeal ceremonies; when it causes constipation one is innocent, when it causes diarrhoea, one is guilty.
The root bark contains a yellow dye of unrecorded use. The leaves are used as protein-rich fodder for ruminants.
Production and international trade
Synclisia scabrida is only traded in local markets.
From the stem the bisbenzyl-isoquinoline alkaloids cycleanine, cycleanine N-oxide, norcycleanine, and the related dioxines cocsoline and cocsuline have been isolated. The leaves contain little alkaloids, but contain a glycoside, provisionally called scabridoside. Cycleanine has also been isolated from the root bark, and showed low toxicity in mice (LD50 = 1 g/kg intraperitoneally). In mice and rats it reduced spontaneous motor activity. In vitro it evoked muscle contractions in isolated rat uterus that could be blocked by salbutanol, but not by atropine.
An ethanol extract of the leaves fed to rats simultaneously with a high dose of aspirin significantly reduced the damage to the glandular tissues of the stomach caused by the aspirin in a dose-dependent way. The same extract also slowed down the transit rate in the small intestine, while in rats, in which the transition between the stomach and the duodenum had been blocked, the total stomach secretion and its acidity were reduced. These results are in line with the traditional use in the treatment of gastric ulcers. An aqueous extract of the leaves showed antihistamine and anticholinergic activity, but no analgesic activity. Aqueous and ethanol extracts of the leaves administered to rats caused slightly increased motor activity and transient hyperthermia. The extracts also slowed down the coagulation of human blood. Aqueous and ethanol extracts of the leaves delayed and shortened the sedative effects of apomorphine in chickens, while an ethanol extract induced catalepsy in rats.
An aqueous extract of the leaves induced an oestrogen-like activity in immature female rats, increasing the uterine weight by about 70% compared to oestradiol benzoate.
A hot-ethanol extract of the leaves inhibited the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Ethanol, cold water and hot water extracts of the root were tested for activity against strains of Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp., Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus sp. and Bacillus subtilis. The ethanol extract was bactericidal against 8 of the 10 test organisms. The cold water extract was bactericidal against strains of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis and bacteriostatic against 5 others, while the hot water extract was bacteriostatic against only 2 of the organisms.
Dioecious liana with twining stems up to 40 m long, with clear sap or sometimes white latex; bark dark brown; stems with long, stiff hairs. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 2–4 cm long, swollen at base and apex, reddish hairy; blade lanceolate-ovate, 5–12(–20) cm × (4–)7–9 cm, base cordate, apex acuminate, upper surface thinly hairy, lower surface densely hairy, pinnately veined, but with 1–2 pairs of basal veins and 4–5 pairs of lateral veins. Flowers axillary, solitary or in pairs, unisexual; pedicel slender, c. 2 cm long, densely hairy, with 2 minute bracts; sepals 9, 6 outer ones bract-like, linear-lanceolate, 1–2 mm × 0.5–1 mm, apex acute, densely hairy outside, 3 inner ones linear-lanceolate, basally merged into an urn-shaped tube, 7–8 mm × c. 1.5 mm, fleshy; petals 6, c. 0.5 mm long, rounded, fleshy, glabrous; male flowers with 6(–9) stamens, basally fused, 3 outer ones c. 2 mm long, 3 inner ones c. 3 mm long, filaments slender at apex, inner ones bending outwards, outer ones bending inwards; female flowers with spoon-shaped staminodes c. 3 mm long, ovary superior, composed of 15–30 laterally compressed carpels, with long, stiff hairs, styles lateral, slender, c. 3 mm long, stigma small, triangular. Fruit composed of a dense head of obovoid-ellipsoid drupes 12–17 mm × 8–9 mm, orange, densely reddish hairy, with swollen apex, stone bony, fine-hairy outside, 1-seeded. Seed horseshoe-shaped, 1–1.5 cm long, cotyledons very unequal.
Other botanical information
Synclisia comprises a single species. It is closely related to Albertisia.
Synclisia scabrida occurs in rainforest, including secondary forest, at low and medium altitudes.
Plants are only collected from the wild. Leaves for fodder can be harvested at any time of the year. Individual leaves or the whole liana are cut and fed fresh or dried.
Synclisia scabrida has a wide distribution and also occurs in secondary vegetation; there are no indications that it is in danger of genetic erosion.
Synclisia scabrida is an important medicinal plant in Central Africa, but its chemical and pharmacological properties have been insufficiently investigated. More research is therefore warranted, especially into its effects on gastric ulcers.
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Correct citation of this article:
Nana, P. & Foyet, H.S., 2008. Synclisia scabrida Miers ex Oliv. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.