Mutiti (Lucky bean tree) scientific name Erythrina abyssinica is a common herbal and medicinal plant in the Southern African countryside. Whilst the use of traditional medicine has always been taken with a pinch of salt. Many people with Christian beliefs in Zimbabwe look at traditional medicine with a hostile unfriendly view. Some even deem these helpful medicinal trees like mutiti as evil. However, I am happy to say that the use of traditional medicine in Zimbabwe has been improving recently. This is because most people have started seeing that there are some things that modern medicine cannot deal with, especially in dealing with chronic diseases. In this article I will explore the mutiti tree medicinal uses.
In my village deep in the forests of Guruve the mutiti or lucky bean tree is a common occurrence especially in areas near rivers or small trees. Most of the folks in my village use components of mutiti like bark and roots to treat their livestock. With some diseases mutiti herbal remedies work wonders whilst with others it doesn’t work at all. Some older village folks use this to treat different ailments. However, rarely does a traditional healer tell anyone the main diseases mutiti tree treat best! So, let’s talk about mutiti tree medicinal uses. Remember this is not medical advice but rather an appreciation of African herbal medicine.
Mutiti tree medicinal uses
The whole mutiti plant can either be singly or in combination be used to prepare herbal remedies for various human ailments. Some use the barks and the leaves as herbal medicine. But, you can also use the lucky bean seeds, roots, and the buck of the roots or even the flowers in herbal remedies. I know we used to use the stem bark for treating our free range chicken and it works wonders. Some actually use the various parts of mutiti tree to make powerful herbal remedies.
The most common source of herbal medicine are usually the roots and bark of the lucky bean tree. This is because the roots and the bark are very good at storing the strong medicinal compounds that we make use in our herbal medicine. The seeds of the lucky bean tree which are red in coat colour look like small bean seeds. Studies show that these lucky bean seeds are poisonous to health when crushed.
So, how do people prepare the herbal remedies of mutiti tree?
Like each traditional medicine there are different methods to prepare the medicinal herbal remedy. The most common methods you can use to prepare the remedies are in the form of powerful boiled decoctions for stronger remedies and cold water infusions. The resulting solution from infusions and decoctions becomes the medicine. And most of the times it is taken drinking.
To prepare a decoction, you take the desired part of the plant e.g. Roots or bark, then you must crush and boil these in water for about 5 minutes. You leave this to cool and then your remedy is ready. For cold water infusions you have to crush the plant parts and soak or steep them in water, usually overnight or 24 hrs. After that your remedy is remedy. Most of the times these herbal remedies are bitter tasting and are not pleasant in your mouth at all.
The other ways mutiti herbal remedies include drying different plant parts and then crushing them into a powder. Some use the powder in porridge or in foods whilst others just lick this powder and they are done. You can also apply this powder to any area you want to treat topically if the ailment requires you to do so. You can also chew different fresh part of the plant and swallow the sap depending on what you need to treat. Some mix the remedies or squeeze fresh plant parts and mix them with bath water.
Medicinal uses of mutiti tree
Treating malaria and fevers
In countries like DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania mutiti treats malaria and fevers. They boil the leaves, roots, stem bark and the flowers to make decoctions which they drink to treat malaria and fevers.
Treating inflammatory disorders, eye problems and pain
People in South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda use the seeds, stem bark and roots in the treatment of the above ailments. The remedies are usually prepared by boiling the roots and stem bark to make a decoction remedy. Drinking this remedy starts the healing process as it is the medicine. Some crush the plant parts after drying them to produce a powder. You can mix the powder with petroleum jelly to smear on wounds and swollen parts. For the eyes, mutiti users apply the mutiti remedy as a liniment. This means applying by rubbing on the eyes.
Treat many bacterial and fungal infections
People in Burundi, Uganda and Kenya use mutiti to treat bacterial and fungal infections. They usually use the stem bark, the leaves as well as the flowers. Decoction remedies taken by drinking can help in treating these diseases. You can also lick the plant parts in powdered form after drinking or added to food or porridge. You can also slice a piece of the bark and chew swallowing the as the medicine. Crushing fresh plant parts and immersing them in water overnight creates a cold infusion that you can drink as herbal medicine.
Treating skin and soft tissue infections, leprosy and wounds
The herbal remedies come from the stem barks, flowers and the leaves. People in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe use mutiti for treating these health problems. This is one of the easiest treatment. All you need to do is to boil the plant parts in petroleum jelly and then smear the resulting paste on affected skin. Also, you can use decoctions or infusions to form herbal baths for affected skin areas.
A medicine for tuberculosis and hard coughs
The stem bark, roots, leaves and flowers play an important part in making the herbal remedies. People from several African countries use mutiti to heal treat tuberculosis traditionally. You prepare the remedy preparing the decoction from the above plant parts. If you drink this decoction then you are on your way to herbal treatment. Some lick the powder of the dried plant parts as the remedy for tuberculosis.
Treatment of cancer
The stem bark, leaves and flowers have been used as medicinal herbs for cancer treatment. People in Kenya and Uganda boil these plant parts and drink them as herbal remedies for cancer.
Mutiti tree medicinal uses in treating HIV/AIDS
HIV/AIDS has no cure but certain herbal and pharmaceutical treatments make life easier for people who suffer from HIV/AIDS. In Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania HIV positive people drink decoctions of the stem bark, roots and flowers to treat HIV and AIDS.
Treatment of infertility, birth control and pregnancy related complications
In Uganda and Kenya the stem bark and roots of mutiti or lucky bean tree act as remedied for treatment of infertility, birth control and pregnant related complications. Drink the decoction of the stem bark or roots as the remedy. You can squeeze the fresh parts of mutiti tree into the mouth or chew them to treat these problems.
Blood disorders like anaemia and jaundice using mutiti tree
The roots, stem bark, leaves and flowers treat blood disorders traditionally for people in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Boil these plant parts and drink the decoction as the remedy.
Treatment of diabetes mellitus
In Uganda, the stem bark and leaves help in the herbal treatment of diabetes using mutiti as a medicinal herb. Boil the stem bark and leaves and take as a drink to treat diabetes. You can prepare the plant parts as decoctions through boiling or as infusions through steeping.
Other diseases in which you can you use mutiti tree as medicine
In Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, they use the stem bark, roots and leaves of mutiti to treat hepatitis, mumps, measles, scabies and liver diseases. You can drink the decoctions and infusions to treat the diseases that do not affect the skin. However, for scabies, dry the plant parts and powder them before mixing with petroleum jelly. Apply the mixture to the affected areas.
People also use mutiti in the herbal treatment of:
- Snake bites and poisoning
- Stomach ways
- Convulsions and central nervous system disorders.
- Stomach and gastrointestinal disorders
- Constipation, dysentery and ulcers.
Conclusion on mutiti tree medicinal uses
Mutiti tree (lucky bean tree) has many pharmacological compounds that enable it to act as a powerful herbal medicine. It is a common plant in most countries in central and southern Africa. Whilst some use it for livestock, some communities use mutiti tree to treat human diseases. That is why I decided to explore the mutiti tree medicinal uses in this article.