Monkey sugarcane (Costus afer) has five amazing health benefits that would surprise you. The plant, which is always greenish and perennial, is usually found in West African countries ad beers white and yellow flowers. Every part of Monkey sugarcane offers an amazing health benefits. Other common names of Costus afer include Okpete, Tete-egun, or Mbritem.
The plant contains some bioactive compounds that have nephroprotective properties on the kidneys. It also protects against neurodegenerative diseases as well as protection of the pancreatic beta cells.
Phytochemical Components of Costus afer
Costus afer contains several phytochemicals in their roots, stems, rhizomes and leaves. Some of the phytochemicals include:
The rhizome contains steroidal saponins such as
- Paryphllin C
- Aferoside B
- Aferoside C
The aerial parts contain kaempferol-3-O-R-L-rhamnopyranoside while the roots contain additional Aferoside A, Aferoside B and Aferoside C.
Health benefits of Monkey Sugarcane
The health benefits of Monkey sugarcane, especially in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, may be attributed to its bioactive compounds such as kaempferol and Aferosides. It is used in treating a wide range of illness which include:
Treatment of Ulcer
The rhizome pulp and leave extracts are used in treating ulcers when taken, mostly by oral administration. Both the leaves and rhizome extracts increase gastroprotective factors, antioxidants such as glutathione, and decreases lipid peroxidation.
Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetic patients would find the leaf and stem extracts of Monkey sugarcane useful in treating diabetes mellitus, as both extracts enhance glucose clearance and reduce hyperglycemia by increasing cellular glucose uptake.
Monkey Sugarcane Possesses Antioxidant Properties
The extracts of the various parts of Costus afer, especially the leaf extract is used in treating oxidative stress. It increases the activity of plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) and increases the levels of glutathione and serum electrolytes such as Na+ and HCO3 . Other enzymes whose activities, Costus afer extract increases include catalase and glutathione-S-transferase.
Protection of The Kidneys From Toxic Damage
The plant leaves, when taken, protect the kidneys from toxic and harmful substances. It also protects the β-cells of the pancreas from alloxan-induced damage. This supports its anti-diabetic efficiency as healthy β-cells promotes insulin production and glucose transport across the inter- and intra-cellular compartments.
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Possesses Anti-inflammatory Activity
Costus afer contains strong anti-inflammatory components such as Kaempferol, Aferoside A and Zn2+. They exert their anti-inflammatory activities by regulation the signaling activity of NF-kB pathways. Also, they inhibit the production of IFN-ϒ and IL-2, both which are proinflammatory factors. This regulatory effect of Costus afer extracts makes them useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Aside the regulatory role they play on NF-kB signaling pathways, they also exert inhibitory effect on the cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) and interfere with G-protein-mediated signal transduction.
Side Effects of Monkey sugarcane
When taken for a long period of time, the side effects from the use of Costus afer may include:
Sufficient reduction of red blood cells, which results in anemia.
Increased weight of the liver and vacuolar changes in the hepatic cells.
When taken by pregnant women, may lead to miscarriage.
G. E. Omokhua, “Medicinal and socio-cultural importance of Costus afer (Ker Grawl) in Nigeria,” African Research Review, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 282–287, 2011.
G. N. Anyasor, O. Ogunwenmo, O. A. Oyelana, and B. E. Akpofunure, “Phytochemical constituents and antioxidant activities of aqueous and methanol stem extracts of Costus afer Ker Gawl. (Costaceae),” African Journal of Biotechnology, vol. 9, no. 31, pp. 4880–4884, 2010.
A. N. Ezejiofor, Z. N. Igweze, N. A. Udowelle, and O. E. Orisakwe, “Histopathological and biochemical assessments of Costus afer stem on alloxan-induced diabetic rats,” Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 383–391, 2017.
A. N. Ezejiofor, C. N. Orish, and O. E. Orisakwe, “Cytological and biochemical studies during the progression of alloxan-induced diabetes and possible protection of an aqueous leaf extract of Costus afer,” Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 745–752, 2014.