African locust bean popularly known as iru is of great importance in Nigeria as people rely on it as a source of food, traditional medicine and remedy for several ailments.
Both the fruits, seeds, leaves, nuts, pods and essential oils of the African locust beans are highly valuable. The seeds, which are enclosed in the yellow pulp are the most important and the most widely used part of this plant.
1. Anti-oxidant Properties
Iru has a free radical reducing ability and is an antioxidant for detoxifying the body because the fruit has a remarkable amount of polyphenols that accounts greatly for its anti-oxidizing properties. The anti-oxidizing properties of the fruit extracts of iru are very similar to that of ascorbic acid.
2. Wound Healing Properties
The bark of the African locust beans can be crushed, ground, soaked and boiled for preparing herbal tea for treating and healing wounds.
3. Treatment of Hypertension and Boosts the Immune System
Yoruba’s claim the fruits are normally used for treating hypertension and is useful for boosting the immune system, especially in immunocompromised individuals.
4. Dermatological Properties
The root, bark and leaves of the African locust beans can be infused, soaked and used for bathing by individuals suffering from skin infections.
It can also be applied to the skin to soothe burns.
5. Treatment of Respiratory Infections
It can be infused or soaked in liquid for treating respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, cold, cough and fever.
The patient has to drink and gargle on the concoction.
6. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
Iru is also a rich source of tannins and as such both the seeds, roots, stems, barks, fruits, flowers and leaves can be used for treating gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhoea and ulcer.