Cultivated throughout sub-Saharan Africa, trees of the kigelia africana and kigelia pinnata species yield a large sausage-size fruit that the region’s indigenous people have long used for medicinal and cosmetic applications. Many cosmetic companies have acknowledged the fruit’s skin-enhancing properties through the addition of fruit extract to some of their products. Medical research has also uncovered evidence that kigelia fruit extract may be effective in helping to treat melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Following up on studies that showed the stem bark of the kigelia africana possessed potent antibacterial properties, a team of South African researchers conducted a study to see if the kigelia fruit offered those benefits as well. They prepared crude extracts of both stem bark and fruit using distilled water, ethanol or ethyl acetate. Researchers then tested the extracts against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. In a report on their findings in a 2002 issue of the “South African Journal of Botany,” they reported stem bark and fruit extracts showed significant antibacterial activity against both strains of bacteria. These findings have paved the way for the use of kigelia extract in skin-cleansing agents and other products designed to combat bacterial skin infections.