Health Benefits of Bush Mango Seeds

This week, I will talk about the seed of Irvingia gabonensis in the family Irvingiaceae. It is known by common names such as wild mango, African mango, dika nut, and bush mango. It is a tree native to West Africa. After eating the fleshy pulp of the ripe fruit, you are left with a hard, pebbly nut enclosing a sweet, oil-rich kernel wrapped inside a brown seed coat. The core/seed is the popular Ogbono (Igbo) and Apon (Yoruba).

Allow me to make a few quick clarifications before continuing. Do not confuse Irvingia gabonensis with common mango (Mangifera indica). The reason I said that is because on Google it is the pictures of the common mango that are used in some places where they talk about bush mangoes. The fruit of the Irvingia gabonensis plant is the fruit called Oro (Yoruba), Upupa/Ujiri (Igbo). It is not the ordinary mango that we eat as a fruit. There is one more thing that bothers me. Modern medicine rejects the doctrine of signatures (the doctrine of signatures states that herbs resembling various parts of the body can be used by herbalists to treat ailments in those parts of the body). However, scientific research continues to validate them without wanting to! In this situation, the seed of Irvingia gabonensis is slimy just like semen when cooked and there are studies that support the claims of the use of the seed by traditional medicine practitioners as a fertility agent. How to balance this?

Phytochemicals found in Irvingia gabonensis seeds are flavonoids, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, terpenoids, volatile oils, steroids, and cardiac glycosides. The flavonoids present in this plant have been shown to possess numerous pharmacological properties such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-ulcer and anti-microbial activities. The seed is a good source of fiber, so it promotes weight loss. It is a good pain reliever, good for cardiovascular health, prevents constipation, controls blood sugar levels, improves energy and boosts the immune system. It increases levels of high density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol and reduces inflammation. They are also good sources of antioxidants, including polyphenols, carotenoids and flavonols. Dietary supplements of Irvingia gabonensis, under the name “African mango”, are marketed for the management of body weight. Several researches and studies have shown that the seed or kernels contain amino acids and are full of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, ascorbic acid, zinc, sodium, amino acids, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and iron. It contains fatty acids such as stearic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid.

I spoke with the Head of Herbarium, Department of Pharmacognosy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Mr. Ife Ogunlowo, about this plant and he said that the mesocarp of the fruit contains vitamin C and that it is rich in fiber. Thus, when consumed, it minimizes the urge to eat, which can be helpful in managing excessive weight gain. He also confirmed that the seeds can be used to manage male infertility. He added that he uses the fruit as a natural perfume for his car by putting 2/3 of unripe fruit in a box and leaving it in the trunk of the car. The fruit’s fragrance is released as it ripens. He however expressed his displeasure that the tree is now an endangered species due (the wood of Irvingia gabonensis is hard and it is useful for heavy construction work) to the logging of the products foresters. He advised on the need to start thinking about ways to preserve the common heritage.

The kernel is an important source of vegetable oil which is considered a suitable source of industrial and edible oils. Raw dika paste yields, on heating or boiling, 70-80% of a pale yellow or almost white solid fat, dika butter, which has qualities comparable to cocoa butter and is in fact an adulterant or a possible substitute for the latter in the manufacture of chocolate. Stripped of its slight odor, it can also be considered suitable for making margarine. The fat is extracted from the seeds to make soap, cosmetics and candles. Since the plant is native to West Africa, I’m tempted to talk about some of its other parts so that if you suddenly come across them, you can explore their uses. The fruits are eaten, the sweet pulp can be squeezed or used to make smoothie, jelly, jam, wine and it is used to prepare a black dye for fabric. The bark has a bitter taste and has the usual uses for bitter bark in Africa. It is used as a purgative to treat gastrointestinal and liver ailments, infertility, hernias and urethral discharge. It is considered by some to be a powerful aphrodisiac and beneficial in case of senility. It is used in an enema or added to a cooked banana to relieve diarrhea and dysentery. It can be ground with water and applied externally to the body to relieve pain. It is used in mouthwashes to relieve toothache, made into a poultice and applied to wounds and wounds.

Scientific studies

In a study titled. “Effects of the aqueous extract of the seeds of Irvingia gabonensis on the hormonal parameters of male guinea pigs”, by Wolfe et al, the study supports the claim on the folk use of the seeds of this plant to improve the libido and the reproductive function in men.

Also in the study, “Terminalin from African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) stimulates glucose uptake through inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatases”, by Yoon et al, the results suggest that terminalin derived from African mango may be used as a functional food ingredient or pharmaceutical supplement for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

In a study titled “IGOB131, a novel extract from the seeds of the West African plant Irvingia gabonensis, significantly reduced body weight and improved metabolic parameters in overweight humans in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study,” by Ngondi et al, the conclusion is that Irvingia gabonensis extract may prove to be a useful tool in addressing the emerging global epidemics of obesity, hyperlipidemia, insulin resistance and their comorbidities.

In another study, “Extraction and physicochemical composition of almond oil from Irvingia gabonensis: a potential healthy source of lauric-myristic oil”, by Ibinga et al, the oil of I. gabonensis can thus be used for the manufacture of margarine and cooking butter because of its thermal stability but also because of the non-degradation of fatty acids due to the absence of unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

In a study entitled “Anti-diarrheal and anti-ulcer properties of Irvingia gabonensis in rats”, by Y. Raji et al, the results show that Irvingia gabonensis has anti-diarrheal and anti-ulcer properties.

In a study titled “Irvingia Gabonensis leaf extracts increase urine output and electrolytes in rats”, by Nosiri et al, from this investigation, the different doses of the extract showed that Irvingia gabonensis has a diuretic effect.

In a study titled “Analgesic effect of Irvingia gabonensis stem bark extract”, by Okolo et al, these findings provide for the first time the pharmacological basis for the folk use of Irvingia gabonensis in the relief of pain. It’s time to start seeing ogbono soup as medicine in your pot!

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