Manna

Scientific Name/Common Name: Fraxinus ornus / Manna-Ash

Part(s) Used: Dried bark sap/exudate

Constituents/Active Ingredients: Approximately 70% mannite or manna sugar (mannose and mannitol), a crystalline, sweet compound. Mannite is white, inodorous, crystallizable in semi-transparent needles of a sweetish taste. It also contains a fluorescent compound called fraxin, which occasionally gives a greenish color to manna sugar and may be the active purgative compound. Manna also contains some phenolic acids (elenolic acid, pinoresinol, homovanillic acid), a small quantity of mucilage, and minerals. Manna-ash bark contains: hydroxycoumarins; the coumarin, esculin; secoiridoid glucosides; phenylethanoids and flavonoids.

Overview: The flowering, or manna ash, is cultivated in Europe for its sweet bark exudates which have been used as a nutritive tonic medicine and mild laxative for many centuries. The Manna of biblical times is most likely from tamarisk trees, Tamarisk gallica, var. mannifera. Manna-ash sugar is very similar. Premium ‘flake’ manna is gathered in marble-sized granules of a pale yellow color and smaller manna ‘gerace’ is also gathered for commerce. Manna sugar was formerly used in medicine as a gentle laxative, but is now chiefly used as a children’s laxative or to disguise other medicines. It generally produces no side effects and operates very mildly. It is still largely consumed in South America and is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia. The tree bark itself of manna ash was traditionally used as an antiparasitic, antihelmintic (dewormer), and insect repellent. The bark contains hydroxycoumarins, secoiridoid glucosides, phenylethanoids, and flavonoids. Biological studies reveal significant antimicrobial, antioxidative, sun damage prevention, wound healing, anti-inflammatory, immuno-modulatory, and antiviral activities that support the use of the bark in folk medicine.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Nutritive; as a mild laxative safe for use with children; anti-inflammatory to the digestive tract.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Kostova I. 2001. Fraxinus ornus L. Fitoterapia. 2001 Jun; 72(5): 471-80. Review.

Caligiani A, Tonelli L, Palla G, Marseglia A, Rossi D, Bruni R. Looking beyond sugars: phytochemical profiling and standardization of manna exudates from Sicilian Fraxinus excelsior L. Fitoterapia. 2013 Oct;90:65-72.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.