Acacia (Acacia senegal)

Identification: The Acacia is a small to average sized thorn tree of the African grassland savanna. It can grow up to 20 meters tall. It has many branches that spread out into a flat and rounded top. These branches have many thorns that come in pairs. The grey-green leaves are alternate and bipinnate. The flowers are yellow or cream colored and grow on spikes just above the thorns. These flowers turn into seed pods about 8 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. They are flat, yellowish to brown in color and they look like giant dried up pea pods.

Habitat: Acacia trees tend to grow in sandy places where there is only between 12 to 15 inches of rain a year. Although acacia trees are found throughout Africa, Chad, Eritrea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senega, and Sudan, the plant is most abundant in Sudan.

Family: Leguminosae (Pea family)

Other Names: Cape gum, Egyptian thorn, Gum Arabic tree, Gum acacia, Gum Arabic, India gum tree, Bablah pods, Acacia bambolah.

Parts Used: Gum

History: Ancient Hebrews considered Acacia to be a sacred wood. The Ark of the Covenant and the sacred Tabernacle were made from Acacia wood. The ancient Egyptians used the gum of the tree on loose teeth because its thick mucilaginous properties supported the tooth while the astingent qualities tightened up the gum tissue surrounding the loose tooth. The gum of the Acacia tree was applied to open wounds as an antiseptic. The Aztecs used it as a food and dye, and ate the seedpods as an aphrodisiac.

Constituents: Acacia gum is a combination of complex polysaccharides and proteins. On the molecular level, this arabino-galactan-protein complex is a beautiful amalgamation of complex branches, trapping water for the use of the plant.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Demulcent, mucilaginous

Main Uses: Gum Arabic is used to provide a soothing coating over inflammations in the respiratory, alimentary, and urinary tracts. It is also helpful for coughs, sore throat, and catarrh, eyewash, diarrhea, and dysentery. Acacia is sometimes used for typhoid fever as well. Acacia is highly soluble, with low viscosity and a high soluble dietary fiber content, and therefore, used in meal replacement products, nutritional beverages, and weight-loss products.

Preparation & Dosages: (Gum arabic is usually dissolved in water to make a mucilage.
Mucilage: A dose is from 1 to 4 teaspoons.
Syrup: Mix 1 part mucilage with 3 parts of a syrup. A dose is from 1 to 4 teaspoons.

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