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Ringworm bush is widely used as a traditional medicine, particularly valued for its laxative effect and its effective treatment of several skin conditions, including ringworm and scabies. Research has tended to confirm the validity of these traditional treatments.
A number of anthraquinone derivatives have been isolated from the leaves, such as aloe-emodin, chrysophanol, isochrysophanol and rhein, as well as the alkaloid tyramine and the common steroid beta-sitosterol.
Crude leaf extracts have shown antibacterial activity against a range of bacteria (such as Dermatophilus congolensis, which causes a serious skin condition in cattle), antifungal properties (such as against Pityriasis versicolor in humans), and also antitumour activity.
The bark contains tannins.
The petals contain anthraquinones, glycosides, steroids, tannins and volatile oil Extracts of the petals have bactericidal activity against gram-positive bacteria but not against gram-negative bacteria.
The plant is laxative, antibacterial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, analgesic, vulnerary, weakly antifungal, hypoglycaemic, and antispasmodic.
The leaves are laxative. They are taken internally as a remedy for constipation and to purify the blood. The leaves are decocted, with or without Tripogandra serrulata and Persea americana, as a treatment for biliousness and hypertension. The leaves are widely used in treating skin diseases. They can be applied as a tincture; as a poultice; powdered, then mixed with oil as an ointment; or the sap can be spread over the affected area – they form an effective treatment for skin blemishes, scabies, ringworm and other fungal skin infections.
The bark is used to treat skin diseases, diarrhoea, worms, parasitic skin diseases, scabies and eczema.
The root is laxative. An infusion is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, tympanites, uterus problems and filaria worm expulsion. The root is applied externally to treat sores and skin fungi. The flowers are used as a laxative and vermifuge. An infusion is used for remedying spleen conditions. A decoction combined with Zingiber officinale, is used as a treatment for grippe and as an abortifacient. They are decocted with coconut milk for use as a laxative.
The leaves, flowers and fruit are mixed in an infusion to treat stomach problems.
The seed is laxative and anthelmintic. It is cooked and used as a remedy for intestinal worms.
The leaf contains the purgative anthraquinone, and also shows some antimicrobial activity. The stem contains chrysophanol, emodin, rhein and aloe emodin. The leaf and fruit contain purgative anthracene derivatives of aloe emodin and rhein. (pfaf.org)