Anacardiaceae
Anacardium occidentale • Caju

 

The cashew nut tree has been planted in abundance at Amazonat, and can be found mainly near dwellings in an area that was once cleared. One may notice that the flowers of the trees’ inflorescences are strikingly small compared to the fruits that form later. These fruits, which are rich in vitamin C, serve as a basis for jams, juices and alcoholic drinks. Each pseudofruit carries a nutritious seed high in protein and fat (the cashew nut) that can be eaten after removing viscous oil called cardol from between its two shells, as the oil can cause dermatitis when it comes in contact with the skin (1).

Traditional medicinal applications have been described for many parts of the tree, including the fruit, the highly vesicant oil cardol, the nuts, leaves, bark, resin and roots (2,3). Recent studies have confirmed anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and hypoglycaemic properties of Anacardium occidentale (4,5,6). Furthermore, Amazonian people of North East Brazil used a balsam produced by the fruit to protect fishing nets, and gum exuding from the trunk to waterproof surfaces (7). This shows the variety of applications that a single species can potentially acquire over time.

(1) Marks JG Jr, DeMelfi T, McCarthy MA, Witte EJ, Castagnoli N, Epstein WL, Aber RC (1984) Dermatitis from cashew nuts. J Am Acad Dermatol. 10(4): 627-31.

(2) Mors, WB, Rizzini, CT and Pereira, NA (2000) Medicinal Plants of Brazil. Reference Publications Inc: 501 p.

(3) Estrella, E (1995) Plantas Medicinales Amazonicas: Realidad y Perspectivas. TCA: 302 p.

(4) Olajide, OA, Aderogba, MA, Adedapo, ADA, Makinde, JM, (2004) Effects of Anacardium occidentale stem bark extract on in vivo inflammatory models. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 95(2-3) 139-142.

(5) Akinpelu, DA (2001) Antimicrobial activity of Anacardium occidentale bark. Fitoterapia 72(3): 286-287.

(6) Alexander-Lindo, RL, Morrison, EY St A, Nair, MG (2004) Hypoglycaemic effect of stigmast-4-en-3-one and its corresponding alcohol from the bark of Anacardium occidentale (cashew). Phytotherapy Research 18(5): 403-407

(7) Ferrao, JEM (1993) 2nd edition, The Adventure of Plants and the Portuguese Discoveries. EU: 247 p.


 

Mangifera indica • Manga

 

The Mango is a beautiful flowering tree that originates in Asia. Volatiles released by the crushing of its young leaves may remind one of ripe mango fruits. Mango fruits can have a high nutritive value due to their content of vitamin C, b-carotene and minerals (1). The tree is traditionally known for a variety of medicinal applications. Many of the medicinal properties attributed to mango might be due to the presence of phenolic acids in fairly significant amounts (2). For example, the polyphenol mangiferin has so far been found to have antioxidant, antitumor and immunemodulatory effects (3).

(1) Tharanathan, RN, Yashoda, HM, Prabha, TN (2006) Mango (Mangifera indica L.), “The King of Fruits” - An Overview. Food Reviews International 22:  95-123

(2) Singh, UP, Singh, DP, Mandavi Singh, Maurya, S, Srivastava, JS, Singh, RB, Singh, SP (2004) Characterization of phenolic compounds in some Indian mango cultivars. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 55: 163-169

(3) Rodeiro, I, Cancino, L, González, JE, Morffi, J, Garrido, G, González, RM, Nuñez, A, Delgado, R (2006) Evaluation of the genotoxic potential of Mangifera indica L. extract (Vimang), a new natural product with antioxidant activity. Food and Chemical Toxicology 44(10): 1707-1713.