When cutting bushes in most African countries, it is most likely that you would have to cut down a Sida Acuta (Wireweed), which fibrous stem can make your cutting work a little harder. Sida acuta, an invasive perennial shrub is a very common and widely distributed plant in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. They are found in bushes almost everywhere in these regions: around house, roadsides and in farms. Though this plant is seen as an environmental weed it is highly medicinal as such has great economic value. Surveys among indigenous people identified Sida Acuta as an important source of traditional medicines in Africa, Asia and Central America.
In the regions where it is used for traditional medicine, the plant is used for treating infections, fever, malaria, asthma, headache, diarrhoea, skin diseases, dysentery, gonorrhoea, rheumatism, eye cataracts and snakebite. It is also used for treating nervous and urinary diseases and blood, bile and liver disorders.
The plant, sometimes called” Broomweed” is also a good source of fibre used to make brooms in many parts of South America and Africa. However, it has not been utilized for its medicinal value as much as for its fibre value in many African countries.
Sida acuta is widespread in Africa where it is locally called iyeye/sepotu (Yoruba), nsukerra (Efik), Amwunkhor (Bini), tsadar lamarudu (Hausa) and udo or nsi inyinya (Igbo) all in Nigeria; isinama (Ndebele) in Zimbabwe; taaiman in South Africa; budi dohot (Wolof) in Gambia; jagio/mfagia in Kenya; djolo gbassa-gbassa/kamel bari in Ivory Coast; and ka-tanta/fankumduma in Sierra Leone.
Scientific researches show that its medical uses stem largely from relatively high levels of alkaloids and flavonoids, facilitating medicinal uses. Researches show that the hot water extract of the plant exhibits strong antimalarial activity and also antimicrobial activity on a variety of human infectious agents, including Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Mycobacterium phlei.
While the extract from the leaf exhibit more activity against bacteria and less against fungi, extract from the root exhibit some activity against pathogenic fungi; and were found to possess strong hepatoprotective effects, thus validating traditional uses of the plant to treat liver disease. Extracts from the Whole plant extracts were found to neutralize the effects of the venomous pit-viper snake species, Bothrops atrox in Columbia.
Sida acuta is also used to reduce fever and high blood pressure. The herb is used to increase the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine, and this helps to lower your blood pressure. Among illnesses the plant is used to cure, fever is the most cited.
In Africa where many people cannot afford orthodox medicine, it is important that Africans develop and promote effective local herbal cure as a cheaper medical alternative. Though sida acuta is very abundant in Africa countries many Africans don’t know that this shrub they know as weed and unusually ignore can cure many common ailments, as such are not benefitting from this abundant natural resource.
There is the opportunity to take advantage of the abundance and invasive nature of sida acuta in African countries. Its high availability and die-hard nature means it will be a very cheap raw material for local drug for many of the ailments it cures. Standard drugs developed from the plant will most likely be cheaper than many orthodox drugs already being used for the same purposes.
The is a need for African institutions to intensify research on sida acuta and on the development of standard drugs from it. More Africans should be aware of the medicine values of this plant and know how to administers it for different ailments. This will reduce the population of people who suffer and die of diseases sida acuta can cure because they couldn’t afford or access orthodox treatments and didn’t know of the common weed they usually ignore is an alternative cure.