[Total : 2    Moyenne : 3/5]

Learn more about the legendary baobabs in the Tarangire…

The morning is windy. The immense skies and surrounding landscape intoxicate in their quiet enormity. I am behind the wheels of a Land Cruiser in the Tarangire National Park.

On this day, I find myself in the company of a few acquaintances, battling the discomfort of the tsetse fly infested bush in the park (visitors to the park are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts at all times).

And then after a short drive in the park, we see the baobabs. The baobab tree is a common feature of the Tarangire National Park. Our guide tells us that in Madagascar and Senegal, there are special beliefs tied to baobas among the locals, while in northern Australia they attract tourists.

Interesting debate and disagreements ensue over the baobab tree, which is probably more controversial than all of the continent’s famous trees combined. Personally, I am awed by the enormous thick trunk that strides up from the earth; the bark that looks wrinkled like the skin of an elephant, and the branches with their long arms, extending to spiny fingers.

Old trees are covered in patches of leaves, while the younger ones are sparsely decorated. The fruit, bouille, dangles from the branches on long vines.

The baobab’s omnipresence, however, does not lessen the magic that each tree seems to hold.

The Baobabs tree

The Baobabs tree

Moments of reflection

I have had intimate moments of reflection, in my past visits here, close to these mighty trees. I have come close to finding great herds of wildlife. They are wondrous and they have touched me in a special way, and this visit is dedicated to get more insight into the kind of deep spiritual impact that an African experience has on the trees.

Our guide further tells us, the baobab is highly regarded by African people because of all of its parts that can be used in different ways. Besides being an important source of timber, the trunks are often hollowed out by people who use them for shelter, grain storage or as water reservoirs. The hollowed trunks also serve as burial sites. And some of the most important products come from the bark of the tree, which contains a fibre that is used to make fishnets, cords, sacks and clothing.

The bark can also be ground into a powder for flavouring food. The leaves were traditionally used for leavening, but are also used as a vegetable.

Its fruits and seeds are also edible for humans and animals. The pulp of the fruit, when dried and mixed with water, makes a drink that tastes similar to lemonade.

The seeds, which taste like cream of tartar and are a valuable source of vitamin C, were traditionally pounded into meal when other food was scarce. Other products such as soap, necklaces, glue, rubber, medicine and cloth can be produced from the various parts of the baobab tree.

Not only that.

The baobab tree serves as a meeting place for many people in African villages to discuss community matters, relate the news of the day, or tell stories. It is also considered to be an object of worship by the people of the African Savannah.

Religious beliefs and practices in Africa have played a role in raising the baobab tree to a level of sacredness. Its ability to survive long periods of time without water, its usefulness and its extremely long-life might be some possible reasons the people of the African Savannah have worshipped the baobab. One particular way the baobab tree has been used as a religious object is as a burial chamber.

In some parts of Africa, the bodies of certain important individuals are placed in a hollowed-out trunk of the baobab tree to symbolize the communion between the vital forces of the plant foods and the body of the dead. As we drive further into the park, I become dizzy with the choice of baobabs in front of me, each seeming bigger than the last while some sheltering different animals such as elephants, lions, zebras, wildebeest and so on.

I can still listen closely enough to hear the wind rustling through the tree’s thousands of lives. I imagine that it is the whispers of the living secrets of the park.

Then on our last sighting our guide drives us to the quieter parts of the park where one of the landmarks and a-must-see-area in the park is found – the poacher’s hideout, a hollow huge baobab tree named for obvious reasons.
Before the park was gazetted to become a national park in 1970, the area was popular among rhino hunters and poachers, we are told.


[Total : 0    Moyenne : 0/5]

What is the medicinal value of Baobab?

People in Europe and North America are beginning to realize that Baobab Fruit Pulp is among the most nutrient-dense foods in all of creation. A few realize that the leaves are also a very rich vegetable. Many parts of the plant are also used in traditional medicine.

In traditional African Medicine, Baobab Fruit Pulp, leaves, bark, roots, seeds and oil are commonly used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Although natural medicine is a growing sector in the health care industry, many botanical remedies are not very well proven, or approved by regulatory agencies, leading to consumer skepticism. Certainly, there is also a good amount of snake oil on the market as well! Baobab as a food product is relatively new to the market, and its medicinal uses are virtually unknown outside of Africa. I happened upon a peer-reviewed scholarly document in the African Journal of Food Science, written by scientists from Burkina Faso and Denmark, that has a facinating section about Baobab’s medicinal value. I will summarize parts of it in this post, but I strongly recommend reading it by clicking this link.

Before I start, none of the information below has been reviewed by the FDA, and Atacora Essential does not sell Baobab to prevent, treat or cure any disease.

Antioxidant

Baobab Fruit Pulp is very rich in Vitamin C. Lab tests on Atacora Essential’s product indicate that it contains 460 mg per 100 g. Studies cited in the document indicate that Baobab’s Integral Antioxidant Capacity is 37X that of oranges! Antioxidants can help to eliminate free radicals that can contribute to cancer, aging, inflammation and cardio-vascular disease.

Anti-inflammatory

According to the article a dose of 800 mg/kg of aqueous extract of Baobab Fruit Pulp has a very similar anti-inflammatory effect as 15 mg/kg of phenylbutazone.

Antipyretic (Anti-Fever)

Fever in Africa is most often associated with malaria, but, of course can arise from other conditions as well. In the Atacora region of Benin, where Baobabs are plentiful, Baobab Fruit Pulp, seeds and bark are used for people with malaria to help reduce fever. It is used as a substitute for quinine as a prophylactic and to reduce malaria-related fever in parts of Africa. The reference article indicates an effect comparable to asprin.

Analgesic

Again, aqueous extract of Baobab Fruit Pulp is shown to have an analgesic (pain releiving) effect comparable to asprin, likely due to the presence of sterols, saponins and triterpenes in the pulp.

Hepatoprotective

The authors of the article cite a study that shows that the extract of Baobab Fruit Pulp had both a protective and a restorative effect for liver damage in rats. They do not cite any studies on humans.

Anti-microbial

The addition of Baobab Fruit Pulp to the fermented soy product, Tempeh, inhibited the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Baccilus and Streptococcus in the food product. It aided the growth of Lactic Acid bacteria, which are beneficial, and serve to preserve many fermented foods. They also indicated that the Fruit Pulp showed anti-microbial activity against E. coli.

Anti-viral

Baobab leaves, fruit pulp and seeds have been shown to act against influenza, herpes simplex and respiratory syncytial viruses. This is likely due to several bioactive compounds found occuring naturally in the plant.

Anti trypanosoma

Sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in animals are caused by trypanosoma protozoa. Infection is caused by the bite of tsetse flies. An extract of Baobab roots seriously reduces or eliminate the microbes’ motility within one hour, according to the authors’ research paper.

Anti-diarrhoea

Perhaps the most common medicinal use of Baobab Fruit Pulp in traditional African medicine is to treat diarrhoea. The fruit pulp is about 50% fiber, with nearly equal proportions of insoluble (cellulose) and soluble (mucilage) fiber. It also contains astringent tannins and citric acid, all of which may contribute to its efficacy against diarrhoea. When compared to the World Health Organization’s recommended oral rehydration solution for its effects, Baobab solution performed statistically as well. Baobab has the added advantages of a significant nutrient content, easy access and affordability in Africa.

Prebiotic

The soluble fiber in Baobab Fruit Pulp stimulates the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria including lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the digestive tract. This can foster a SYN-BIOTIC digestive effect. Learn more here!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It has been linked to lowering blood pressure, bolstering immunity, and less incidence of cataracts and coronary disease. A single serving of Atacora Baobab Fruit Pulp provides as much as 80% of daily value of this essential nutrient.

Antidote to poison

It appears that Baobab bark, fruit pulp and seeds are used to neutralize the effects of Strophanthus-derived poisons commonly used on arrows in Africa.

Skin Care

A decoction of Baobab roots is often used to bathe children in Africa to promote smooth skin. Baobab Seed Oil contains antioxidant Vitamins A, D & E as well as Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids and is a soothing, rejuvenating skin care serum. Learn more here!