Rat is another important local natural ingredient in the Gambian market used for making tea. The botanical name is combretum glutinosum, a shrub species of the genus Combretum, found in the Sahel belt in parts of Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, the Gambia, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon, across parts of Sudan. It is known as dooki in Pulaar, Kantakara in Hausa, rat in Wolof and jambakatan kè in Mandinka.
The plant’s bark, leaves, and roots are extracted for traditional medicinal uses for treating various ailments from influenza, and rheumatism, to sexual issues such as impotence and syphilis. It is commonly brewed as a tea in tropical West Africa to relieve stomach issues and to treat malaria in a decoction with several other leaves obtained in the bush. In the Senegal and Gambia, it is one of several trees whose twigs are used as “chewing sticks,” used instead of toothbrushes to clean teeth, remove food particles after eating, and chew for pleasure. It is also used to fill cavities of carious teeth, to dress wounds, for fumigation, and as incense. A decoction of the leaves is used for baths to relieve fatigue.
According to Databaseprota. org (2011), chemical analysis of the leaves of the plant has identified Gallic acid, ellagic acid, flavonoid glycosides, and 4 tannins; the tannins reported are 2,3-(S)-hexahydroxydiphenoyl-D-glucose, punicalin, punicalagin, and combreglutinin. The black colour of the bogolan fabric is attributed to the chemical reaction of the tannins with the soluble iron compounds present in the fermented mud.
Others are 5-de?methyl?sin?en?se?tin (1), umuhengerin (2), (20S,24R)-ocotillone (3), lupeol (4), ?-sitosterol (5), oleanolic acid (6), betulinic acid (7), corymbosin (8) and ?-sito?sterol glucoside (9)(Toklo et al. 2021),
Rat: Scientific benefits
Animal studies have demonstrated that rats could be used as a natural dewormer (Toklo et al. 2021).
In a previous study, Alowanou et al. (2019) in-vitro results also suggest that rat used by small-scale farmers possess antiparasitic properties useful for helminthiasis control.
Rat also demonstrates the ability to fight cancer cells. For instance, Gade et al. (2022) study found that the leaf extract showed good anticancer activity against prostate cancer cells line.
Nordeng et al. (2013) study also found that rat is normally used by traditional medicine healers in Malaria to treat malaria in pregnancy.
Others also used rat to treat skin conditions. For instance, one study by SÃ¨ne et al. (2020) evaluates the healing effect and topical anti-inflammatory activity of the aqueous bark extract of rat in second-degree burn and croton oil-induced ear edema in mice. The study justifies its use in traditional medicine to treat burns and wounds.
Another study by Sene et al.(2018) investigates the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of rat. The study found that the analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of rat leaves are similar to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetylsalicylic acid, justifying the use of this plant in traditional medicine to manage pain and inflammation.
Natural antidiarrhoea drug
Rat has also been found to act as a natural antidiarrheal drug. For instance, one animal study( Mota, 2015) screen aqueous extract of young leaves of rat for antidiarrheal activity in albino rats. The young leaves of rat were collected from the Hong Local Government area of Adamawa State, Nigeria. The leaves were shade dried and then pulverized into coarse powder which was defatted with petroleum ether and extracted by maceration using cold water. The extract obtained was then used for the antidiarrheal screening. The antidiarrheal potentials of the aqueous extract of young leaves of rat were investigated in vivo using castor oil-induced diarrhoea and charcoal meal transit time in albino rats. The results indicate that the aqueous young leaf extract of this plant is well tolerated and relatively safe having a significant antidiarrhoeal effect which amply supports its traditional usage.
One mini review by Géorcelin et al. (2015) showed that the plants possessed wide-reaching pharmacological actions, including anti-diabetic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antiplasmodial, and justify their use in traditional medicine for treating various diseases.
However, no human studies have been conducted on rat. It is time investigators conduct human studies on rat.
Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups. My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as medical advice for Treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.
The writer is a Professor of Naturopathic Healthcare, a Medical Journalist, and a science writer. President, Nyarkotey University College of Holistic Medicine & Technology (NUCHMT), African Naturopathic Foundation, Ashaiman, Ghana. Currently BL Candidate at the Gambia Law School, Banjul, Gambia. E. mail: professor40[email protected]. For more information, call +220 745 2652.