Alstonia boonei De wild is a major spice crop grown abundantly in Ghana and other tropical countries. In this study we have carried out phytochemical analysis . PDF | Folkloric use of root-bark extract of Alstonia boonei in the treatment and management of many disease conditions may be associated with. English alstonia; timber trade — pattern wood, stoolwood. French emien (timber trade, from Ivory Coast vernacular). SENEGAL: BANYUN ti keung (K&A) DIOLA.

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Within West Africa, it is considered as sacred in some forest communities; consequently the plant parts are not eaten. The plant parts have been traditionally used for its antimalarial, aphrodisiac, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and antipyretic activities, which have also been proved scientifically. The present paper aims at investigating the main research undertaken on the plant in order to provide sufficient baseline information for future work and for commercial exploitation.

Many cultures throughout the world still rely on indigenous medicinal plants for their primary health care needs [ 1 ]. It is a fact that traditional systems of medicine have become a topic of global importance. Although modern medicine may be available in many developed countries, people are still turning to alternative or complementary therapies including medicinal herbs.

Yet, few plant species that provide medicinal herbs have been scientifically evaluated for their possible medical applications.

The safety and efficacy data are available for even fewer herbs, their extracts and active ingredients and the preparation containing them. Tropical and subtropical Africa contains between 40—45, species of plant with a potential for development and out of which 5, species are used medicinally [ 3 ].

Still there is a paradox, in spite of this huge potential and diversity, the African continent has only contributed 83 of the classic drugs globally [ 3 ].

African countries are at a stage where traditional medicine is considered more for its capacity to generate other medicine than for its own sake. In many cases research undertakings and the commercial use stemming from that research have always relied on information provided by the local communities and, in many instances, have hardly benefited from the research results [ 4 ].

In Africa, traditional healers and remedies made from plants play an important role in the health of millions of people.

Alstonia boonei

The relative ratios of traditional practitioners and university-trained doctors in relation to the whole population in African countries are revealing. In Ghana, for example, in the Kwahu district, there are people for every traditional practitioner, compared to nearly 21, people for one university-trained doctor [ 4 ]. Typically, studies on the medicinal plants such as Alstonia boonei have focused on the bioactivity of its chemical constituents, ethnobotany, pharmacology, and taxonomy.

However, a comprehensive or systematic review on the plant is lacking. Furthermore, in much of the older literature concerning West Africa, the name Alstonia congensis has been erroneously used for Alstonia boonei. Consequently, this paper synthesizes studies on Alstonia boonei Figure 1. This is necessary to recapitulate the findings on the plant and thereby provide a comprehensive and current repository for references on the plant. Plate showing clockwise order from top right, the leaves, stem, branches, and whole plant of Alstonia boonei.

Alstonia comprises about 40 species and has a pantropical distribution. There are about twelve species of the genus Alstonia. Alstonia boonei De Wild belongs to the family Apocynaceae.

The species are scattered all over the world of which two are indigenous to Africa. Elsewhere, Alstonia is known as Australian fever bush, Australian quinine, Devil tree, Dita bark, fever bark, or palimara [ 6 ]. Alstonia grows into a giant tree in most of the evergreen rain forests of tropical West Africa.


The plant thrives very well in damp riverbanks. It is well known to all the traditional healers practicing along the west coast of Africa. It occurs in deciduous and fringing forest of Ghana [ 6 ]. Alstonia boonei De Wild is a deciduous tree up to 35 meters high Figure 1. It buttresses deep-fluted high and narrow.

Its white latexes are copious. The leaves are in whorls at nodes, oblanceolate, apex rounded to acuminate, lateral vein prominent almost at right angle to midrib. The flowers are white with lax terminal cymes. The bark of Alstonia tree is one of the effective analgesic [ 7 ] herbs available in nature.

All the alstonnia of the plant are very useful but the thick bark cut from the matured bponei is the part that is most commonly used for therapeutic purposes.

The bark of the tree is highly effective when it is used in its alstobia form; however, the dried one could equally be used. A decoction could be sweetened with pure honey and be taken up to 4 times daily as an effective painkiller for the following conditions.

Painful menstruation dysmenorrhoeawhen associated with uterine fibroid or ovarian cysts in women; lower abdominal and pelvic congestion associated with gynaecological problems such as pelvic inflammatory diseases; to relieve the painful urethritis common with gonococcus or other microbial infections in men. Alstonia decoction also exerts a mild antibacterial effect in this case, relieving the aches and pains associated with malaria fever.

Alstonia is taken in the form of preparations that exhibits antipyrexia and anti-malaria effects, to combat rheumatic and arthritic pains. The decoction of Alstonia bark could be taken alone as an effective pain-killing agent. A cold infusion made from the fresh or dried bark of Alstonia taken orally two to three times daily exerts a mild hypoglycaemic effect on diabetic patients.

The cold infusion is also administered orally for the purpose of expelling round worms, threadworms [ 7 ], and other intestinal parasites in children. The fresh bark of Alstonia could be used in preparing herbal tinctures; it is particularly useful as an effective antidote against snake, rat, or scorpion poison. It is also useful in expelling retained products of conception and afterbirth when given to women. Asthma can be treated with a drink prepared from parts of Trema orientalis and decoction of the bark of Alstonia boonei mixed with the roots and bark of cola and fruits of Xylopia parviflora with hard potash [ 7 ].

The bark decoction of Alstonia boonei is used with other preparations in the treatment of fractures or dislocation [ 7 ], jaundice, and for inducing breast milk. Its latex is taken as a purgative. The hardened latex is used for the treatment of yaws. In some African countries Alstonia boonei is considered a sacred tree and worshiped in the forest and hence human beings in those countries do not eat its parts. A wide array of chemical compounds has been isolated from Alstonia boonei.

These include alkaloids, tannins, iridoids, and triterpenoids [ 5 ]. Its structure is as shown in Scheme 1.

Its structure is as shown in Scheme 2. The structure of N-formylechitamidine 3 is as alstoniq in Scheme 3. These alkaloids, especially echitamine 1possess a battery of pharmacological and autonomic activities [ 1415 ] including anticancer activities [ 16 — 23 ]. Iridoids isolated from Alstonia boonei include boonein and loganin.

Loganin Scheme 4 is a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of indole alkaloids. It is practically insoluble in ether, pet. Ether, ligroin, ethyl acetate, and chloroform. The structure was established by alstonla and spectroscopic methods and by X-ray analysis.

Its structure is as shown in Scheme 5. It is a possible precursor in the indole alkaloid biogenesis [ 49 ]. Its structure is as shown in Scheme 6. Lupeol forms needlelike crystals from alcohol or acetone. It is freely soluble in ether, alatonia, pet. It is practically insoluble in water, dilute acids, and alkalis. Ursolic acid is also known as urson, prunol micromerol, or malol.


Its structure is as shown in Scheme 7. One part dissolves in 88 parts boonnei methanol, alcohol 35 boiling alcoholether, and chloroform, carbon disulfide. It is insoluble in water and pet.

A Review of the Ethnobotany and Pharmacological Importance of Alstonia boonei De Wild (Apocynaceae)

Ursolic acid is used as an emulsifying agent in pharmaceuticals and foods. Its structure is as shown in Scheme 8. Its melting point is — Alstonja forms needle-like crystals from pet. For example, five compounds, which are triterpenes and sterols, were isolated from the hexane fraction of the alcohol extract of the leaves of Alstonia scholaris R.

The structures of the isolated compounds were principally deduced by physiological and chromatographic characters as well as by spectroscopic analyses. The isolated compounds were reported for the first time.

Mass spectra and spectrographic methods were used for identification. Rechromatography of the fractions gave 2 products. Its structure is as shown in Scheme 9.

In another development, lupeol acetate isolated from the petroleum ether fraction of Alstonia boonei root barks was tested for its anti-arthritic effect in CFA-induced arthritic rats [ 75 ].

Lupeol acetate was able to return the increase in spleen weight and the reduction in serum alkyl phosphatase to nonarthritic control values. The anti-inflammatory triterpenoids are also inhibitors of serine proteases [ 56 ].

The lupane triterpenoid lupeol, the ursane triterpenoid alpha-amyrin, and esters of these compounds present in the bark of roots of Alstonia boonei Apocynaceae have anti-inflammatory properties.

Lupeol, alpha-amyrin, and the palmitic and linoleic acid esters of these compounds are ineffective or very weak as inhibitors of porcine pancreatic elastase and of Lucilia cuprina and Helicoverpa punctigera leucine aminopeptidases.

These hydrophobic triterpenoids represent further examples of anti-inflammatory triterpenoids that are PKA inhibitors as well as being selective protease inhibitors.

Vascular permeability induced by acetic acid in the peritoneum of mice was also inhibited. The extract also produced marked analgesic activity by reduction of writhing induced by acetic acid, as well as the early and late phases of paw licking in mice. This study has established anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of the stem bark of Alstonia boonei. The anti-inflammatory activity of a Ghanaian anti-arthritic herbal preparation was also investigated [ 76 ].

The herbal preparation was tested intraperitoneally for its anti-inflammatory activity by measuring rat hind paw oedema induced by the subplantar injection of carrageenin in the presence or absence of arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid increased swelling during the early phase of carrageenin oedema. The extract suppressed the late phase of carrageenin oedema and both phases in the presence of arachidonic acid. These preliminary results are consistent with a herbal preparation known to be used in the management of rheumatoid arthritis [ 77 ].

The extract was again tested for its anti-inflammatory activity by measuring over a period of 17 days the changes in rat ankle diameter caused by subplantar injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant [ 76 ]. Histological examinations of the proximal interphalangeal foot joints showed reduced synovial proliferation and invasion of joints and reduced leukocyte infiltration of bone marrow and periarticular tissue in treated rats.