Trichilia emetica, a plant native to Africa, is used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments such as abdominal pains, dermatitis, haemorrhoids, jaundice and chest pain. This species also known as Natal Mahogany is used for its emetic, diuretic and purgative properties and for induction of labour. The extensive traditional use of this species has encouraged scientists to explore several biological activities including anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, antischistosomal, antiplasmodial, anticonvulsant, antitrypanosomal, anti-oxidant, antitussive, antimutagenic and hepatoprotective properties. Several limonoids have been isolated from the stem bark. Trichilia substance Tr-B and nymania 1 exhibited selective inhibitory activity towards DNA repair-deficient yeast mutants and exerted antifungal, bactericidal, antiviral, antifeedant and growth regulating properties. Polysaccharides have been isolated and the pectin rhamnogalacturonan type I with side chains of arabinogalactan type II exhibited fixation ability suggesting the possible mode of action as a wound healing remedy. This review aims to coherently unite results obtained from various studies on this ethnomedicinally important species.
[Photo: Phytotrade Africa]