Tahitian Rea

EthnoExtraits® EthnoExtracts EthnoOils® EthnoScrubs
Botanic name: Curcuma longa
Family: Zingiberaceae
Usual names: Oceanian safran, Indian safran, tumeric
Polynesian names: REA (TAHITI),
'ENA,'EKA (MARQUISES), 
TALEA (TUAMOTU) 
AGO (SAMOA, FUTUNA), 
ANGO (TONGA), 
RENGA (ILES COOK) 
AVEA, CAGO, REREGA (FIJI)

Distribution :

Largely spread throughout the South Pacific and other tropical areas.

Description / habitat :

A fast growing plant, 60cm to one meter high, with large oval leaves and greenish yellow flowers.
The root, meaty and multiplying like ginger, has yellow flesh that becomes reddish, bright dry orange.
It can be found in the plains and mountainsides.
The portions of rhizome are transplanted, then harvested 9 months later.

Background :

In some islands of the Pacific, a piece of rhizome is worn as a "good luck" necklace…
In Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands, the curcuma tuber was largely used to dye clothing (achrome yellow color).
During pagan ceremonies, young men, boys and girls, who took part in the ritual dances would rub their body in
a dye made of rea, the preparation of which, accompanied by various ceremonies, was reserved to the natives.
The coloring obtained would last over long periods of time.

Chemical composition (2-4) :

Alpha-&delta-atlantones, bisaboladienones, bisabolenes, bisacumol, bisacurone, caryophyllene, curcumenes, curcumenol, curcumenone, curcumins and derivatives, curdinone, alpha-tumerine, zingiberene, borneol, isoborneol, camphene, camphor, cineol, limonene, linalool, alpha & béta pinenes, sabinene, terpinene, terpineol, caffeic acid, eugenol, guaiacol, cinnamoyl  derivatives, campesterols, cholesterol, lignan, oleoresins, cyclocucurmin, vanillic acid,beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, tannins, turmeric, ukonans.

Biological activity (2,3,7-9,12):

Anti-inflammatory activity (curcumin) on the upper respiratory track, the joints, urinary tract and prostate.
Anti-bacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-rejection, an insecticide and repellent, cytotoxic, a disinfectant, tonifier,
antioxydant. Cicatrizer.
Diuretic and combats constipation.
Antineoplasic activity (curcumin): topic applications are useful on skin cancer.
Antioxydant activity (natural preservative).

Traditional uses (2-9):

Widely used in Ayurvedic medicine in India.
The powder of the rhizomes treat children's skin abrasions, wounds and reshes (Samoa, Tonga) and infected
open wounds in the Cook Islands.
Sprains and contusions are treated in Fiji with a cataplasm using the rhizome.
It is also used for eye diseases (purulent ophtalmia), open wounds, fish poisoning (ciguatera).
The leaves are used in New Guinea to sooth blows received.
Marqueseans who work in the vanilla plantations coat the uncovered parts of their bodies with the sap from the
root to avoid mosquito bites.

Bibliography:

1) Pétard,P.,Plantes utiles de Polynésie, Raau Tahiti,(1986),Haere Po no Tahiti, 120-121.

2) Singh,Y.N., J.Ethnopharmacol.,(1986),15(1),57-88.

3) Cambie,R.C.,and Ash,J.,Fijian Medicinal Plants,(1994),CSIRO,Australia,64-66.

4) Nakayama,R.,et al.,Phytochemistry,(1993),33(2),501-502.

5) Golding,B.T.,and Pombo,v.E.,J.Chem.Soc.Perkin Trans,(1992),12,1519-1524.

6) Ohshiro,M.,et al.,Phytochemistry,(1990),29(7),2201-2205.

7) Masuda,T.,et al.Phytochemistry,(1993),32(6),1557-1560.

8) Kiuchi,F.,et al.,Chem.Pharm.Bull.,(1993),41(9),1640-1643.

9) Toda,S.,et al.,Chem.Pharm.Bull.,(1985),33(4),1725-1728.

10) Weiner,M.A.,Secret of Fijian Medicine,(1984),Govt.Printer,Suva,Fiji,102.

11) Whistler,W.A.,Polynesian Herbal Medecine,(1992),Everbest,Hong Kong,140-141.

12) Yarnell,E.,Abascal,K.,Alternative & Complementary Therapies,(2002),336-340.

 
 
 

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Ph. MAUNIER Pharmacien-Chimiste, Dr., Lauréat de l'Académie de Pharmacie.
 
 

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