What is African Spider Plant?

Cleome gynandra, also known as African Cabbage, African spider plant, Spider Wisp, and cat’s whiskers – is a wild green leafy vegetable originated in tropical Africa and Southeast Asia.
It is a common food source for the people belonging to the rural areas of Africa, where the leaves of this plant are cooked and eaten. Although considered as a weed, the African spider plant is highly nutritious with plenty of vitamins and other nutrients and hence can be added to a healthy and balanced diet.

African Cabbage is locally known in Africa as Nyevhe in Zimbabwe, Mgagani in Tanzania/Swahili, Jjobyu in Luganda, and Musambe in Angola.
The leaves of spider plants are quite bitter. Still, they are an excellent source of phenolic compounds, vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin C and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium zinc, copper, and iron. It also contains certain amounts of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein.

African spider plant. Credit: Facebook.

Health Benefits of African Spider Plant.

  • Antidiabetic:

    The leaves and roots of spider plant are used as an anti-diabetic remedy. This plant can lower blood sugar levels, and this may be due to the presence of the antioxidant phenolic compounds in it.

  • Antihypertensive:

    Spider plant contains high levels of potassium that helps in lowering high blood pressure by neutralizing the adverse effects of sodium. Moreover, it also contains several antioxidant compounds that contribute to the blood pressure-lowering effect.

  • Anticancer properties:

    The anti-cancer effects of methanol extract of spider plant against Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma was studied in Swiss albino mice. The results showed that the extract helped in significantly reducing the volume and weight of the tumor. It also increased the lifespan of the mice having Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma, and The hemoglobin levels and the count of red blood cells, white blood cells, and lymphocytes were restored to a healthy level. From this result, it can be confirmed that the extract shows potent dose-dependent anti-cancer properties. 

  • Kidney Health:The African spider plant is known to provide a protective effect on the kidneys. According to several clinical studies, an herbal tea made from the leaves of this plant is considered to be effective in preventing the occurrence of kidney stones. It is also used as a remedy in the treatment of urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and chronic kidney infections.
  • Antioxidant Effects:

    The formation of free radicals in your body can lead to many diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Antioxidants are compounds that can fight off these free radicals and protect your cells from oxidative damage.

  • Skin Benefits:

    Spider plant is a rich source of antioxidants that helps in keeping your skin glowing and young. These antioxidants protect your skin from oxidative stress, thus preventing signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. Spider plant helps in keeping your skin nourished and hydrated and also helps in maintaining the pH balance. The plant also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in preventing acne and other infections.

African spider plant
African spider plant; credit: Google

Traditional uses of African Spider Plant:

Every part of Cleome gynandra has been used effectively in traditional medicine in many parts of the world.

  • The leaves have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and hence are used in treating the inflammation and pain associated with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
  • The sap from the leaves is used to treat headaches due to its analgesic effects.
  • It is also considered to be useful in curing recurrent malaria.
  • The sap obtained by pounding the young leaves of spider plant is administered into ears, eyes, and nostrils to reduce earache and to treat epilepsy.
  • The crushed leaves are either applied as a poultice or rubbed on to the pain-affected area, and is used to treat headache, and rheumatism.
  • The topical application of the crushed leaves on boils can help in preventing the formation of pus.
  • Water obtained from boiling the leaves is used for the treatment of diarrhea.
  • An infusion or decoction made from the roots or leaves of spider plant finds use in treating constipation, Fever, abdominal pain, and easing childbirth.
  • It is also beneficial in treating anemia, relieving chest pain, in eliminating intestinal worms and in treating conjunctivitis.
  • Juice gotten from the roots is used to treat scorpion stings.
  • The whole plant can be used as an antidote for snakebite and scorpion stings.
  • The leaves are rubbed on the hands and inhaled like smelling salts for headache in West Africa.

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