Saturday, 19 April 2008

The many uses of Canna

  1. The leaves are washed and used in water as a cure for fever in Nigeria and in Gabon, especially for children.
  2. In Ghana they are pounded and put into baths for fever.
  3. For jaundice the Brong of Ivory Coast take a leaf-macerate in draught and in eye-instillations and the Akye add the pounded leaves to a prescription with other drug-plants for taking by draught and as a wash.
  4. The tender shoots are applied to bruises and cuts in Nigeria. The steins produce an emollient and analgesic action, and this is made use of in Ivory Coast to assuage rheumatic pains, buboes, urethritis and even fractures, and for coughs, fevers and jaundice.
  5. In Congo a tisane is given to children to sooth paroxysmal coughing in whooping-cough, and the sap is applied to sores and to arrest bleeding.
  6. The Shien of Ivory Coast cook the stems wrapped in Maranta or banana leaf and apply the juice which is expressed as an embrocation for painful breasts.
  7. In India the stalks are chopped up and boiled in rice-water with pepper and fed to cattle as an antidote after eating poisonous grasses.
  8. The leaves serve as wrapping for food in Ghana and doubtless elsewhere in W Africa.
  9. In India and SE Asia the leaves are commonly used to wrap parcels.
  10. A fibre can be extracted from the plant and is of a quality to substitute jute in the making of twine and sacking.
  11. The roots are starchy. Starch has been extracted in a small way in Indochina. They are eaten in Asia, and have been eaten in W Africa in time of dearth.
  12. In parts of Kenya the root and in Malawi the whole plant is cultivated as a cattle-food.
  13. More generally the roots have medicinal applications. The powdered root is taken in Nigeria as a cure for diarrhoea and dysentery.
  14. In Gabon the rhizome is used in enemas against dysentery and intestinal worms, and an aqueous decoction is taken in Congo by women with irregular menses.
  15. In India the roots are recognized as diaphoretic and diuretic and are administered in fevers and dropsy.
  16. The flowers are said in Ghana to be good for curing eye-disease.
  17. They contain a little sweet nectar which is used as a bait to trap birds.
  18. The seeds are black, hard and the size of a pea. The English name, ‘Indian shot’, derives from their occasional use in India as shot for guns.
  19. In Ghana children use them in popguns.
  20. Throughout Africa and Asia they are used as beads for stringing into necklaces and rosaries, and making into rattles.
  21. Several Ghanaian names refer to ‘European’s rosary’ indicating an exotic origin.
  22. The seeds are used in S Nigeria as counters in a game of chance called ido, the name being taken from the Yoruba name of the plant ido or idora. The looser of the game acquires the title ọmọ-odobo, lit. ‘awkward child’. No medicinal usage of the seeds is recorded for the Region.
  23. In SE Asia they may be pounded to a paste for poulticing headaches.
  24. A trace of alkaloid has been reported in Nigerian material.
  25. The seeds also yield an attractive evanescent purple dye.
  26. The plant enters into a Yoruba invocation for protection against wizards and witches who are said not to eat ido, and to help little children to stand.
  27. A purple-leafed form is used in ordeal trials in Gabon in cases of alleged adultery.

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