Increase Endurance Increase Energy Kigelia Africana [Sausage Tree]

Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) bark extract is potential central nervous system stimulant

kigelia africana exercise benefits

Kigelia Africana popularly known as the Sausage tree is widely distributed through the South, Central and West Africa, where it has a long history of use. It is a multipurpose medicinal plant with many attributes and considerable potentials. It got its name due to huge sausage or cucumber-like fruit. Fruits (Pic. 1) were commonly used by traditional healers to treat a wide range of skin conditions such as fungal infections, eczema, psoriasis and boils [1]. The plant also has traditional uses such as anticancer, antiulcer, anti-ageing, antioxidant, and anti-malarial [2].

Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) Extract Benefits for Exercise

The stem bark extract of Kigelia Africana can be found in some pre-workout supplements as a stimulant. This may be due to one animal study that reported Kigelia Africana may be potential central nervous system stimulant. However, no clinical trials are to be found. The ethanolic stem bark extract of Kigelia Africana was given to mice using barbiturate (a drug that induces central nervous system depression from mild sedation to total anaesthesia) induced sleep. When compared to placebo grout that received distilled water, the results showed that all doses of Sausage tree bark extract caused a significant reduction of sleeping time (p<0.0001 at all doses tested). Its effect was also shown to be dose-dependent. Duration of sleep was compared to that of a caffeine (a well-known stimulant) and the extract gave a shorter duration of sleeping time compared to caffeine, (p<0.05 at 400 mg/kg dose) indicating better stimulant properties. [3]

benefits of kigelia africana

Pic. 1: Sausage Tree (Kigelia Africana) fruits.

Another property that could potentially benefit athletic performance is its analgesic (or painkiller) effect. Owolabi and assistants [4] were the first to report the analgesic effect of an extract of Kigelia Africana. After mice were injected with acetic acid the number of twisting and squirming movements was counted. The number of twisting movements was significantly lower (p<0.0001) for the group that received Kigelia Africana extract compared to placebo group after 30 min.

Diuretic Activity

In folk medicine, Kigelia Africana is used for kidney and urinary disorders. A study in male albino rats evaluated the diuretic potency of Kigelia Africana aqueous bark extract. Different concentrations of the extract, 250 and 500mg/kg were orally administered and urine output was immediately measured after 5 hours of treatment. Significant dose-dependent diuretic activity was reported. The onset of diuretic action was within 1 hour and lasted up to 5 hours. [9]


Traditionally, Kigelia Africana was also used to enhance beauty. It can be found in some anti-ageing and regenerating skin care products, and skin tightening cosmetics such as bust firming products.

Aphrodisiac Activity

Folkloric information from various tribes indicates that the K. Africana fruits are hung on roofs of homes to represent a symbol of fertility [10].

Animal studies [10-13] report that K. Africana has a strong aphrodisiac effect. Various doses of K. Africana fruit extract (100 and 500mg/kg) were reported to exhibit a significant increase in the sperm count, testicular weight, body weight, testosterone levels and follicle-stimulating hormone both alone or as a treatment to prevent cisplatin-induced testicular injury [11]. It is interesting to note however that the 100mg/kg dose of K. Africana fruit extract was more effective in enhancing the parameters recorded than the 500mg/kg dose. Results are similar to the work of Abioye et al. [12] as well as Ogbeche et al. [13].

Other Uses of Kigelia Africana

Antioxidant Activity

Cuticular wax isolated from leaves of Kigelia Africana was reported to have antimicrobial as well as antioxidant effect [5]. Antioxidant activity of leaf extract of Kigelia Africana was also shown in in vitro study by Priya et al. [6] and suggested as a good protection against oxidative damage. In living animal models with paracetamol-induced liver damage, K. africana attenuated the lipid peroxidation effect and improve the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), gluthathione peroxidase (GPx), and d-aminolevulinate dehydratase (d-ALA-D) activities [14]. Antioxidant potential of K. africana exerts its protective effect against liver damage and also facilitate its anti-inflammatory and wound healing effects [14].

The plant’s antioxidant potential is attributed to the presence of good number of phenolic and flavonoid compounds.

Antidiabetic Activity

The plant also shows antidiabetic activity [7]. Methanolic extracts of K. africana flower [15] as well as leaves [16] led to a drop in blood glucose levels in animal models.

Side Effects of Kigelia Africana

Fresh fruit of Sausage tree is poisonous (it causes blisters in the mouth and on the skin) and need to be prepared for consumption by drying, roasting or fermentation [8]. The toxicity of extract from Kigelia Africana was investigated in male rats and results show no significant changes in all parameters studied. However, it caused significant dose-dependent reductions in white blood cell counts at day 15 with varying degrees of recovery by day 30 [7].

This plant has great potential to be developed as drug by pharmaceutical industries but before recommending its use in modern medicine, clinical trials are needed to be done.

(Other common names: Kigelia pinnata, Kigelia aethiopica, Sausage Tree extract, Cucumber Tree, Cucumber plant, Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth, K. Pinnata, K. africana (Lam.), Worsboom)


  1. Saini, Sangita, et al. “K. africana (Lam.) Benth.—An overview.” Natural Product Radiance 8.2 (2009): 190-197.
  2. Gabriel, Olatunji A., and Atolani Olubunmi. “Comprehensive scientific demystification of Kigelia africana: A review.” Afr J Pure Appl Chem 3.9 (2009): 158-164.
  3. Owolabi, O. J., F. C. Amaechina, and A. B. Eledan. “Central nervous system stimulant effect of the ethanolic extract of Kigelia africana.” J. Med Plant Res 2.1 (2008): 20-23.
  4. Owolabi, Omonkhelin J., and Eric KI Omogbai. “Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of the ethanolic stem bark extract of K. africana (Bignoniaceae).” Afr. J. Biotechnol 6.5 (2007): 582-585.
  5. Olubunmi, Atolani, et al. “Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of cuticular wax from Kigelia africana.” FABAD J. Pharm. Sci 34.4 (2009): 193-198.
  6. Priya, Bhanu, Manoj Gahlot, and Poonam Joshi. “Phytochemical Screening, Flavonoid Content and In-Vitro Antioxidant Activity of Methanolic Extract of Kigelia Africana.”
  7. Nyarko, A. K., et al. “Subchronic toxicity studies of the antidiabetic herbal preparation ADD-199 in the rat: absence of organ toxicity and modulation of cytochrome P450.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 97.2 (2005): 319-325.
  8. McBurney, Rory PH, et al. “The nutritional composition of African wild food plants: from compilation to utilization.” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 17.3 (2004): 277-289.
  9. Atawodi, Sunday Ene-Ojo, and Olufunsho Dayo Olowoniyi. “Pharmacological and therapeutic activities of Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth.” Annual Research & Review in Biology 5.1 (2015): 1.
  10. Azu, Onyemaechi Okpara. “The sausage plant (Kigelia africana): Have we finally discovered a male sperm booster?.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 7.15 (2013): 903-910.
  11. Azu, O. O., et al. “Histomorphometric effects of Kigelia africana (Bignoniaceae) fruit extract on the testis following short-term treatment with cisplatin in male Sprague–Dawley rats.” Middle East Fertility Society Journal 15.3 (2010): 200-208.
  12. Abioye, A. I. R., et al. “Aqueous extract of the bark of Kigelia africana reverses early testicular damage induced by methanol extract of Carica papaya.” Nigerian Journal of Health and Biomedical Sciences 2.2 (2003): 87-89.
  13. Ogbeche, K. A., Y. O. Ogunbiyi, and F. I. O. Duru. “Effect of methanol extract of Kigelia africana on sperm motility and fertility in rats.” Nigerian Journal of Health and Biomedical Sciences 1.2 (2002): 113-116.
  14. Bello, Idris, et al. “Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth.(Sausage tree): Phytochemistry and pharmacological review of a quintessential African traditional medicinal plant.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 189 (2016): 253-276.
  15. Kumar, Ravindra, et al. “Pharmacological evaluation of ethanolic extract of Kigelia pinnata fruit against ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in rats.” Asian journal of plant science and research 2.1 (2012): 63-72.
  16. Priya, B., Gahlot, M., Joshi, P., 2014. Screening of anti-hyperglycemic activity of Kigelia africana on alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Indian J. Appl. Res. 4, 448–451