Medicinal plants

margozy flower the bitter melon

Medicinal plants

Posted on 23/02/2022

"There are many medicinal plants on the island which the people use as their main preventive or curative treatments."

Traditional medicine occupies a very important place in Nosy Komba as in all Madagascar.

On the 188 sorts of tropical flora can be found all over the island as well as about 70 of medicinal plants used locally as current remedies.

The people of Nosy Komba exploit the virtues of the plants which are often recommended by “Sikidy” or “Ombiasy”, a kind of healer or magician, who often communicate with the spirit of the ancestors.

Stomach aches, difficult pregnancies, rheumatism, diarrhoea and many other illnesses are treated with these medicinal plants which are generally consumed as a decoction of leaves, barks, branches or even roots. These plants can also be crushed and mixed with coconut oil to be used as a balm for massages.

Here are some medicinal plants used by the people:

Tsinono, Jean Robert

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia Hirta

The leaves are consumed in decoction to treat problems related to urology in men and heavy periods in women. Jean robert has an antispasmodic action. The plant is recommended more particularly to look after asthma, to slacken bronchi and facilitate breathing. Slightly laxative and expectorant, it is also prescribed to treat bronchitis and other disorders of the respiratory system.

Fahmangobay, Ahibitsy

Family: Verbenaceae
Genus: Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

The whole plant of “blue vervain” is consumed as a decoction against diabetes.

Madagascar Periwinkle

Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Catharanthus roseus

The plant is consumed entirely from the root to the flower to calm diarrhoea. This drink is bitter. The use of periwinkle to treat diabetes has prompted much research into its properties. Vincristine (an alkaloid extracted from the plant) and vinblastine (a toxin extracted from the plant) are two of the most important chemical compounds discovered in the last forty years.


Consumed in decoction, this liana is formidable, it does not have thorns but it is very difficult to ingest because it is ultra-bitter. It is recommended to calm the pains of the back and the big tiredness’s. It cleans the liver and kidneys in depth.


Family: Menispermaceae
Genus: Burasaia madagascariensis

The roots of this tree are used in decoction to fight against malaria but also to treat jaundice and spleen problems. The decoction is bitter. The root is also used to make masks to protect the skin of yellow color for the face of women: Tenty or Masonjoany. The tree gives yellow drupaceous fruits that makis like to enjoy them.


Family: Euphoibiaceae

The bark and stems of this tree have anti-inflammatory properties and can treat skin diseases such as measles and chicken pox. The leaves in decoction help to reduce fever.


Family: Aloeaceae
Aloe vera

It is the plant of all remedies: Its bitter and slightly acid taste is unique.

Its bitter properties treat burns, sunburns and eczema.
The gel obtained when the leaf is cut calms stomach ulcers. This gel contains anthraquinones, which are laxative substances. They facilitate intestinal transit.


Family: Crassulaceae
Kalanchoe pinnata

The leaves of this easily recognizable fatty plant are heated on a grid. After heating, the juice that comes out of the leaves is collected and used to treat ear infections like eyewash.


Family: Verbenaceae
Lantana camara

The whole plant is consumed as an herbal decoction to reduce fever.


Family: Lamiaceae
Ocimum gratissimum

More commonly known as African basil.

The leaves are consumed as an inhalation in case of flu, otherwise they are crushed and the juice obtained treats colds and coughs. Women after childbirth consume the rômba as a decoction and then wash themselves with the water of the infused leaves.

Morongo – Ananambo

Family: Moringaceae
Moringa olifeira

The small leaves of the moringa are highly prized to cook the traditional dish “Romazava”. The leaves and flowers are also consumed in herbal decoction.
The crushed leaves have an antioxidant and healing role. After being crushed, they are applied to a wound as a healing bandage.


Family: Lamiaceae
Plectranthus amboinicus

Also known as big thyme or thick mint.
The leaves are consumed by inhalation or crushed to recover the juice, to treat colds and prevent flu-like conditions. It is used as an herbal decoction to soothe painful periods.


Famiy: Taccaceae
Tacca leontopetaloïdes

The tubers of this plant are similar to potatoes. After being prepared and soaked, they are then dried and made into flour. The flour is edible, but care must be taken when preparing it as the plant is “toxic”. The flour is mixed with a little hot water to obtain a paste which is consumed to cure stomach aches.


The leaves of this thorny shrub are consumed in decoction to fight against fatigue.


Family: Polypodiaceae
Phymatosorus scolopendria

This plant is consumed entirely in decoction by men who have problems to urinate.


Family: Zingiberaceae
Curcuma zedoaria

Does it need to be introduced? The aromatic young rhizome of turmeric treats indigestion, nausea, flatulence and bloating. This plant is also consumed in infusion to prevent respiratory diseases.
The curcumol and curdione contained in the plant would have anti-carcinogenic properties.


Family: Passifloraceae
Passiflora foetida

This liana is consumed in infusion as a worming agent for children. Adults consume it to lower blood pressure.
In the past, the islanders used the hair balls containing the flowers as soap.

Hasigny – Hasina

Family: Asparagaceae

The rods are applied to wounds, but mainly to heal fractures.

Candle bush

Family: Fabaceae
Senna alata

The crushed leaves are rubbed on the skin to treat dermatitis. The leaves are also consumed in decoction to treat liver diseases.

Bitter melon

Family: Cucurbitaceae
Momordica charantia

When consumed as a decoction, it is one of the most preventive local medicinal plants. It can be found in every street and village in the region. The bitterness of most “cleansing” herbal decoctions has that recognisable taste. The vegetables are edible; the Creoles call it the bitter cucumber.

Mushroom eyewash

This spongy fungus secretes a liquid used as an eyewash.

Pigeon pea

Family: Fabaceae
Cajanus cajan

The leaves are consumed in decoction to treat diarrhoea and stomach aches.
The peas are edible, it’s the pigeon pea or angola pea.


Family: Apiaceae
Centella asiatica

The crushed leaves are used to heal cuts and burns.
The leaves are used as an herbal decoction to treat stomach aches.


Family: Poaceae
Stenotaphrum dimidiatum

The plant looks like grass.
Women drink the decoction to cleanse the uterus, however, the consumption of this plant is dangerous for women in early pregnancy. Drinking this preparation can cause an abortion.

Neem Tree

Family: Meliaceae
Azadirachta indica

The leaves of the Margousier tree have multiple functions including the treatment of stomach aches and skin diseases. It is an excellent antifungal and antiparasitic.

Mexican sunflower

Family: Asteraceae
Tithonia diversifolia

The leaves consumed in infusion relieve stomach aches. The dried leaves serve as an anti-inflammatory.

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