(Canellaceae) mulanga, manaka (Venda);
shibaha (Tsonga); isibhaha (Zulu); pepper-bark tree (English); peperbasboom (Afrikaans)
Warburgia tree is one of the great tonics and panaceas of southern Africa - its specific name salutaris means "salutary to health". The bark is generally used, and it is usually taken orally in a powdered form, or as infusions and decoctions. The inner bark is extremely pungent, hence the English common name pepperbark tree. Warburgia is used as a tonic for all health conditions, including fever, malaria, colds and 'flu, as an expectorant in coughs, and as a natural antibiotic to treat chest infections productive of purulent sputum (Solomon Mahlaba, pers. comm.), for venereal diseases, and for abdominal pain and constipation. Is applied topically to cuts on the: temples for headache. The bark or root bark, which has a strong peppery taste, is used.
This is a popular and widely used remedy for coughs, colds and chest complaints. It is particularly sought after for a serious cough productive of purulent sputum. The numerous other ailments for which it is used include influenza, rheumatism, malaria, venereal diseases, headache, toothache and gastric ulcers. Cold-water infusions of the powdered bark are taken orally as expectorants, or it is smoked as a cough and cold remedy. The bark contains numerous drimane sesquiterpenoids such as warburganal and polygodial. It is also said to contain mannitol.
The activity of Warburgia bark seems to be due to the drimanes, which are biologically active, potent insect antifeedants and which also show antibacterial and anti-ulcer activity. Mannitol is used medicinally (for dyspepsia and as a diuretic) and also in human nutrition and as a sweetener for diabetics. Plants from this family were used as a mild aromatic bitter. A mixture of the powdered bark of Canella alba with aloes has been used as an emmenagogue.
For more information see the following references:
Trees of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town - Coates Palgrave, K.
Field Guide to the Trees of the Kruger National Park - Van Wyk, P.
Naturafrica - the Herhalist Handbook - Pujol, J.
The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. 2nd edition - Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G.
Plants used for stress-related ailments in traditional Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho medicine. Part I: Plants used for headaches - Hutchings, A. & Van Staden, J.
Zulu Medicinal Plants - Hutchings, A.
The Extra Pharmacopoeia. 26th edition. Pharmaceutical Press, London - Martindale