Journal of
Medicinal Plants Research

  • Abbreviation: J. Med. Plants Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0875
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMPR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 3835

Full Length Research Paper

Ethnopharmacological investigation on Msindzano, a beauty mask used by Comorian women: What plants for what mixtures, for what applications?

Said Hassane Soidrou
  • Said Hassane Soidrou
  • Laboratory of Foods and Natural Substances Reactivity and Synthesis, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Comoros, BP 2585, Moroni, Comoros.
  • Google Scholar
Radjab Youssouf
  • Radjab Youssouf
  • Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Site University of Patsi, University of Comoros, BP 2585, Moroni, Comoros.
  • Google Scholar
Azali Ahamada Himidi
  • Azali Ahamada Himidi
  • Laboratory of Applied Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences and Technology Saïss, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University, P. O. Box 2202. Fez, Morocco.
  • Google Scholar
Ahmed Msahazi
  • Ahmed Msahazi
  • Laboratory of Applied Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences and Technology Saïss, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University, P. O. Box 2202. Fez, Morocco.
  • Google Scholar
Abdellah Farah
  • Abdellah Farah
  • Laboratory of Applied Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences and Technology Saïss, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University, P. O. Box 2202. Fez, Morocco.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 16 October 2020
  •  Accepted: 15 March 2021
  •  Published: 30 September 2022


Although extensively used by Comorian women, limited information exists on Msindzano beauty masks. Thus an ethnopharmacological survey was conducted on two islands of the Comoros archipelago: Ndzuani and Ngazidja. An open-ended, semi-structured questionnaire was employed for data collection on the different plants used for Msindzano preparation, their different mixtures and their different applications. A total of 348 women were interviewed on both islands. Thirty-nine plant species were recorded in this investigation, 30 in Ndzuani and 27 in Ngazidja, with 19 being used on both islands. Santalum album is the main plant used in Msindzano. It is followed by Acokanthera schimperi, Sesamum indicum and Arachys hypogea. Regarding the different mixtures, twenty-one mixtures are used in Ndzuani and 10 in Ngazidja. The main purpose for the application of Msindzano is to lighten the skin, but also to eliminate acne, as a sun block against radiation, heat and allergies. In Ndzuani it is largely used against heat and to eliminate acne, while in Ngazidja it is employed mostly as a sun block against radiation. It is thus concluded that Msindzano is an important tool used by Comorian women as cosmetics as well as for the treatment of certain skin diseases.

Key words: Cosmetics, eliminate acne, lighten skin, Msindzano, Ndzuani, Ngazidja.


Despite the advent of modern medicine and technical advances, the use of plants for therapeutic purposes is still a major part in the global primary health system (Ekor, 2014; Che et  al.,  2017).  According  to  the  World Health Organization (WHO), as quoted by Goleniowsk et al. (2006), a large majority of rural people use traditional medicine as the first defense of health care.In recent decades,  the   use   of  herbal  remedies  as  alternatives to  conventional  medicines  has  grown  in developed countries (Ekor, 2014).

Comoros is an archipelago with a culture that is a mix of Afro-Bantou, Arabo-Muslim and Indian Ocean cultures (Soidrou et al., 2013). Like many people around the world, the Comorian people have developed a traditional- based primary health system founded on natural products occurring in the Comoros (Soidrou et al., 2013). Although diverse plant species are used as medicinal and cosmetics, few studies existed about their traditional uses. However, none of these studies have focused on Msindzano, a traditional cosmetics worn by women.

Used as a beauty mask, the Msindzano is generally applied on the face or the whole body for various reasons. It is traditionally used for its relaxing, disinfecting, soothing and calming properties. It is also known to kill and prevent the growth of acne-causing bacteria, accelerate the healing process of pimples, and soothe irritated skin.

The Msindzano is a combination of several plant ingredients mixed on a piece of coral, the main component being sandalwood. Different compositions are used, depending on the desired effect, the region or the island. This ranges from the use of sandalwood itself, to mixtures with many other plants such as Curcuma longa, Lawsonia inermis, Sesamum indicum and Jasminium mummulariae folium. Some women even add synthetic products such as Pandalao, Diprosone, and Betazol. In addition to Ndzuani and Maoré, the use of Msindzano is also losing ground in the other islands of the archipelago. This is because most young people find this practice archaic and rather like to use manufactured cosmetic products. Although used on a daily basis, very few young people know the different uses of Msindzano and even less the different mixtures used.

The present study is part of a framework of valorization of Msindzano. It aims to identify the different plants used in this product, their different mixtures and their different applications. It will be followed by laboratory tests to confirm or infirm these different observations. This will ultimately improve the quality of Msindzano and give more interest to this product among young people.


Study area

This study was carried out in two of the four islands of the Comoros archipelago; Ngazidja and Ndzuani. The choice of these two islands is dictated by the fact that among the Comorian Islands, Ndzuani is the one where the use of Msindzano is well established. As for Ngazidja, it is an island where Comorians from different islands meet. The use of Msindzano is also well established there. In Ngazidja the investigations were conducted in the villages of Moroni, Ntsoudjini, Salimani Itsandra, Maweni Itsandra and Mitsamihouli (Figure 1). In Ndzuani, the investigations were conducted in the villages of Mutsamudu, Bandrani,  Mirontsi,  Ouani, Chandra, Chiwe, Shitsangani, Dindri, Tsembehou  and  Moya (Figure 2).

Data collection

The survey carried out from 3 April 2019 to 30 April 2019, used Rapid Appraisal methods like the door-to-door survey and individual interviews. 348 women, aged between 18 and 81 years were agreed to participate in this study. The great majority concerned Ndzuani Island with 249 women. The 99 others were interviewed in Ngazidja Island. The study categorized informants’ demographic data according to interviewee’s age categories (18 - 30, n=180; 30 - 50, n=131; 50 - 70, n =30; 70 - 90, n=6).

The information was collected based on a pre-established questionnaire and conducted in Shikomori (local language) for convenience and accuracy. The questionnaire focused on the following three themes: (1) plants species used, (2) their different mixtures, and (3) their applications.

Plant identification

The plants were identified by the team of the National Herbarium of Comoros where the specimens were deposited.

Data analysis

The data were expressed as a percentage, using Microsoft ExcelTM and analyzed in descriptive way.

Ethical considerations

All the women who participated in this survey did so on a voluntary basis after explaining the objective of the survey, its progress and the use of the results.


Plants inventories

Thirty nine plant species were documented, 30 in Ndzuani and 27 in Ngazidja. But 19 were used in both islands (Figure 3). Santalum album (74.42%) is the most used plant species in Msindzano, followed by Acokanthera schimperi (17.53%) and Sesamum indicum (10.06%). Women also use Arachys hypogea (7.47%), as well as Kaya comorensis, Percea americana and Tamtam (local name) with 4.88% usage each. In addition to Curcuma longa (3.74%) and muté (local name) (3.16%), the other plant species have a very low utilization rate, with a percentage use of less than 3%.

Ndzuani Island is where Msindzano is widely used. Thirty one plant species were inventoried (Figure 4). With 90.76%, S. album is the main plant species used in Msindzano  in  this  island.   It   followed   by  Acokanthera schimperi (20.48%), Myristica fragrans (7.22%), S. indicum and Tamtam (5.22% each). There plant species have with a percentage of 4.81%, namely Arachis hypogea, Kaya comorensis and Persea americana. Thirteen plant species have a percentage use lower than 1%.

In Ngazidja, S. album is also the main plant species used (33.33%) in Msindzano production (Figure 5), but with a lower percentage than in Ndzuani. It is followed by three plant species with a percentage use higher or equal to 10%. These include S. indicum (22.22%), A. hypogaea (14.14%) and A. schimperi (10.1%). In contrast to what z is observed in Ndzuani, A. schimperi is not the second main plant species, but it is overtaken by S. indicum and A. hypogaea.

In contrast, in Ndzuani several plant species had a percentage use higher than or equal to 5%. They are Mté (local name) 7.07%, Cocos nucifera, Euphorbia hirta and C. longa (6.06%); K. comorensis, P. americana and Guetterda speciosa at 5% each; Mtamtam (local name) at 4%; Punica granatum and Lawsonia inermis at 4% each; Ricinus communis, Tambourissa species and Aloes species at 2% each. The other plants have a use percentage of 1%.

The applications of Msindzano

Comorian women use  Msindzano for various reasons. The common use is for cosmetic reasons, including skin lightening and softening (Figure 6). It can further be used for medical reasons in particular against acne, allergies and some skin problems such as eczema. It is sometimes used for preventive reasons, especially against heat or radiation as a sun block (Figure 6).

Most respondents use Msindzano to clear their skin. In this case, 44.17% of interviewed women in Ndzuani use Santalum   album,    5.62%    Tamtam    and    5.22%   for Sesamum indicum (Figure 6). S. album is also widely used against radiation as a sun block (24.49%), heat (15.26%) and to eliminate acne (13.65%).

In Ngazidja (Figure 7), most people also use Msindzano to clear their skin. S. album (19.19%) is the main plant species used in this case. It is followed by A. hypogea and C. indicum (7.07% each), Mté (local name),

A. schimperi and C. longa (5.05% each) and G. speciosa (4.04%). The main purpose of Sesamum indicum is application against radiation as a sun block (9.09%). S. album (8.08%) is also used as a sun block (radiation).

Msindzano can consist of a mixture of several plant species (Table 1). Twenty-one mixtures are only used in Ndzuani and 10 in Ngazidja. A Tamtam (local name) and S. album mixture is only used as a skin lightener. The mixture largely used in Ndzuani is composed of K. comorensis, S. album and A. schimperi, and used against heat and to eliminate acne. In Ngazidja, the most used mixture consists of S. album and A. schimperi, and it is used as a sun block against radiation. The mixture with the highest number of plant species contains nine species, which include Sesamum indicum, Tamtam (local name), Jasminium mummulariae folium, Tamarindus indicus, Loksi (local name), M. fragrans, P. americana, S. album and L. inermis.

This mixture is used to lighten the skin and as a sun block against radiation. Some mixtures are used on three or four applications. For example, a mixture composed of S. album, Tamtam  and  S. indicum is used in four applications, namely to lighten skin, to eliminate acne, as a sub block against radiation and against heat. With three applications, a mixture consisting of S. album and Dacus carota is used to lighten the skin, against allergies, and against heat. To eliminate acne only, women use six mixtures in Ndzuani and two in Ngazidja. The fight against allergies is the application that has the fewest mixtures in both islands, namely one in both islands. They are composed of A. schimperi and M. fragrans in Ndzuani and A. schimperi,

R.    communis and K. comorensis in Ngazidja.

However, in certain applications, only one plant can be used. In Ndzuani, S. album is largely used alone to brighten the skin, to eliminate acne and as a sun block against radiation. In Ngazidja, it is principally used as a sun block against radiation and to lighten the skin. In Ndzuani, M. fragrans can be only used to eliminate acne, to lighten skin and as a sun block.

Most of the plants in this survey are known for their use in traditional medicine and cosmetics in various countries.

S.    album, the principal plant used as Msindzano in Comoros, is largely discussed in the literature. Misra and Dey (2013) reported that this plant is used against skin infections, as cicatrizing and as antiseptic. The literature stipulates that this plant possesses effects like antimicrobial (Hussain et al., 2011; Sindhu et al., 2010), immunopharmacologic and antivirals (Gupta and Caphalkar, 2016), antioxidant (Misra and Dey, 2013).

A.    schimperi, the second plant used in Ndzuani is known to possess antibacterial (Taye et al., 2011) and acaricidal (Owino et al., 2015) activities. S. indicum oil, the second plant largely used in Ngazidja, is known as an ingredient in soap, lubricants, perfumery, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, insecticides and paints and varnishes (Chemonics International Inc., 2002; Barel et al., 2001). It forms an occlusive layer on the skin, keeping water inside upper stratum corneum layers and consequently acting as moisturizers (Barel et al., 2001).

In   Southern   India   it  is  used  to  anoint  the  body and hair. Indians have used sesame oil as an antibacterial mouthwash and for relieving anxiety and insomnia (Pathak et al., 2014). A clinical trial proved the effectiveness of sesame oil for treating nasal mucosa dryness rather than isotonic sodium chloride solution (Johnson et al., 2001). In addition, sesame oil contains large amounts of linoleate in triglyceride form which selectively inhibited malignant melanoma growth (Smith and Salerno, 1992).

A.    hypogea, one of the most used plants in Ngazidja, is also known as a dietary source. It is capable of producing stilbene derived compounds  that   are  considered  as  anti-fungal (El-Sayed et al., 2012). In addition, their stilbenoids display diverse biological activities in mammalian cells like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant activities and anti-nitric oxide production (Sobolev et al., 2011). It is also reported that their flavonoids have anti-cancer, anti-androgen, anti-Leishmania, anti-nitric oxide production, and anti-bacterial activity (Yazaki et al., 2009). Moreover, it was found that A. hypogaea L. exhibited anti-bacterial activity (Parekh and Chanda, 2008).

Less used plants like C. longa, E. hirta and M. fragrans are also known for their uses in cosmetics  and   therapeutics.   In   the  literature, various studies suggest that curcuminoids, phenolic compounds of turmeric, have antioxidant effects (Dall'Acqua et al., 2016), anti-inflammatory (Cooney et al., 2016), antimicrobial (Zhang et al., 2012), antiviral (Chen et al., 2010) and radioprotective (Lopez-Jornet et al., 2016). Antioxidant and antimicrobial properties are also attributed to Turmeric essential oil (Avanço et al., 2017).

As for E. hirta, various properties are attributed to it. It possesses antioxidant (Sharma et al., 2014; Subramanian et al., 2011; Basma et al., 2011), antimicrobials (Perumal et al., 2012; Rajeh et  al.,  2010),  anti-inflammatory  and  anticancer activities (Sharma et al., 2014).

Studies on the essential oil and various extracts of M. fragrans have shown that it has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (Gupta et al., 2013; Shafiei et al., 2012), anti-angiogenic pest control (Piaru et al., 2012), radioprotective, anticancer, antidepressant, antidiabetic and hepatoprotective (Shafiei et al., 2012).

The proven effects of these different plants as antimicrobials, antioxidants and radioprotectives can corroborate their use in the Comoros in the different applications of Msindzano.


Although being one of the symbols of the Comorian woman, very little scientific knowledge exists on the Msindzano. This study is therefore the first carried out in the Comoros. It is part of a project to promote Msindzano of which this study is the first phase.

Thirty-nine plants were identified in this investigation and several mixtures of plants and their applications were identified. Most of them are used to lighten skin.

This study has demonstrated the important use of Msindzano as cosmetic and as traditional medicine, especially for the treatment of certain skin diseases.

This is a preliminary study which will have to be followed by other studies, notably phytochemical and toxicological studies, as well as the effectiveness of the various mixtures mentioned earlier.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.


Avanço GB, Ferreira FD, Bomfim NS, De Souza Rodrigues dos Santos PA, Peralta RM, Brugnari T, Mallmann CA, De Abreu Filho BA, Mikcha JMG, Machinski Jr. M (2017). Curcuma longa L. essential oil composition, antioxidant effect, and effect on Fusarium verticillioides and fumonisin production. Food Control 73(B):806-813.


Barel AO, Marc Paye M, Maibach HI (2001). Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology. 2nd Edition Marcel Dekker, Inc. 270 Madison Avenue, New York pp. 401-402.


Basma AA, Zakaria Z, Latha LY, Sasidharan S (2011). Antioxidant activity and phytochemical screening of the methanol extracts of Euphorbia hirta L. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 4(5):386-390.


Che CT, George V, Ijinu TP, Pushpangadan P, Andrae-Marobela K (2017). Traditional Medicine In Badal McCreath S., Delgoda R. (ed) Pharmacognosy,Fundamentals, Applications and Strategies, Boston, Academic Press pp. 15-30.


Chemonics International Inc (2002). Overview of the Nigerian Sesame Industry. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Nigeria pp. 1-34.


Chen D, Shien J, Tiley L, Chiou S, Wang S, Chang T, Lee Y, Chan K, Hsu W (2010). Curcumin inhibits influenza virus infection and haemagglutination activity. Food Chemistry 119(4):1346-1351.


Cooney JM, Barnett MPG, Dommels YEM, Brewster D, Butts CA, McNabb WC, Laing WA, Roy NC (2016). A combined omics approach to evaluate the effects of dietary curcumin on coloinflammation in the Mdr1a_/_ mouse model of inflammatory bowe disease. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 27:181-192.


Dall'Acqua S, Stocchero M, Boschiero I, Schiavon M, Golob S, Uddin J, Voinovich D, Mammi S, Schievano E (2016). New findings on the in vivo antioxidant activity of Curcuma longa extract by an integrated 1H NMR and HPLC-MS metabolomic approach. Fitoterapia 109:125- 131.


Ekor M (2014). The growing use of herbal medicines: issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety. Frontiers in Pharmacology 4(177):1-10.


El-Sayed NM, Ismail KA, Abd-El-Ghany Ahmed S, Hetta MH (2012). In vitro amoebicidal activity of ethanol extracts of Arachis hypogaea L., Curcuma longa L. and Pancratium maritimum L. on Acanthamoeba castellanii cysts. Parasitology Research 110(5):1985-1992.


Goleniowski ME, Bongiovanni GA, Bongiovanni L, Palacio CO, Cantero JJ (2006). Medicinal plants from the "Sierra de Comechingones", Argentina. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107(3):324-341.


Gupta A, Chaphalkar SR (2016). Immunopharmacological screening of aqueous root extract of Santalum album. Journal of HerbMed Pharmacology 5(1):7-11.


Gupta AD, Bansal VK, Babu V, Maithil N (2013). Chemistry, antioxidant and antimicrobial potential of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt). Journal of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology 11(1):25-31.


Hussain T, Arshad M, Khan S, Sattar H, Qureshi MS (2011). In vitro screening of methanol plant extracts for their antibacterial activity. Pakistan Journal of Botany 43(1):531-538.


Johnson J, Bratt BM, Michel-Barron O, Glennow C, Petruson B (2001). Pure sesame oil vs. isotonic sodium chloride solution as treatment for dry nasal mucosa. Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 127(11):1353-1356.


Lopez-Jornet P, Gomez-García F, Carrillo NG, Valle-Rodríguez E, Xerafinc A, Vicente-Ortega V (2016). Radioprotective effects of lycopene and curcumin duringlocal irradiation of parotid glands in Sprague Dawley rats. British Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery 54(3):275-279.


Misra BB, Dey S (2013). Bioloical Activities of East Indian sandalwood tree, Santalum album. Peer J Pre-Prints 1:v96.


Owino JO, Matasyoh JC, Guliye AY (2015). Acaricidal Coumarins from the Medicinal Plant Acokanthera schimperi. Journal of Organic and Inorganic Chemistry 1(3):1-6.


Parekh J, Chanda S (2008). Antibacterial activity of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of 34 Indian medicinal plants against some Staphylococcus species. Turkish Journal of Biology 32(1):63-71.


Pathak N, Rai AK, Kumari R, Bhat KV (2014). Value addition in sesame: A perspective on bioactive components for enhancing utility and profitability. Pharmagnosy Review 8(16):147-155.


Perumal S, Pillai S, Cai LW, Mahmud R, Ramanathan S (2012). Determination of Minimum Inhibitory Concentration of Euphorbia hirta (L.) Extracts by Tetrazolium Microplate Assay. Journal of Natural Products 5:68-76.


Piaru SP, Mahmud R, Abdul Majid AMS, Nassar ZDM (2012). Antioxidant and antiangiogenic activities of the essential oils of Myristica fragrans and Morinda citrifolia. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 5(4):294-298.


Rajeh MAB, Zuraini Z, Sasidharan S, Latha LY, Amutha S (2010). Assessment of Euphorbia hirta L. Leaf, Flower, Stem and Root Extracts for Their Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity and Brine Shrimp Lethality. Molecules 15(9):6008-6018.


Shafiei Z, Shuhairi NN, Md Fazly Shah Yap N, Sibungkil C-AH, Latip J (2012). Antibacterial Activity of Myristica fragrans against Oral Pathogens. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 825362:1-8.


Sharma N, Samarakoon KW, Gyawali R, Park YH, Lee SJ, Oh SJ, Lee TH, Jeong DK (2014). Evaluation of the Antioxidant, Anti- Inflammatory, and Anticancer Activities of Euphorbia hirta Ethanolic Extract. Molecules 19(9):14567-14581.


Sindhu RK, Upma, Kumar A, Arora S (2010). Santalum album linn: a review on morphology, phytochemistry and pharmacological aspects. International Journal of PharmTech Research 2(1):914-919.


Smith DE, Salerno JW (1992). Selective growth inhibition of a human malignant melanoma cell line by sesame oil in vitro. ProstaglandinsLeukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 46(2):145-150.


Sobolev VS, Khan SI, Tabanca N, Wedge DE, Manly SP, Cutler SJ, Coy MR, Becnel JJ, Neffν SA, Gloer JB (2011). Biological Activity of Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) Phytoalexins and Selected Natural and Synthetic Stilbenoids. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 59(5):1673-1682.


Soidrou SH, Ahmed Mohamed N, Farah A, Hassane SOS, Bousta D (2013). Ethnopharmacoligical investigation of five plants used in Comorian folkloric medicine. International Journal of Phytopharmacology 4(4):230-236.


Subramanian SP, Bhuvaneshwari S, Prasath GS (2011). Antidiabetic and antioxidant potentials of Euphorbia hirta leaves extract studied in streptozotocin-induced experimental diabetes in rats. General Physiology and Biophysics 30(3):278-285.


Taye B, Giday M, Animut A, Seid J (2011). Antibacterial activities of selected medicinal plants in traditional treatment of human wounds in Ethiopia. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 1(5):370-375.


Yazaki K, Sasaki K, Tsurumaru Y (2009). Prenylation of aromatic compounds, a key diversification of plant secondary metabolites. Phytochemistry 70:1739-1745.


Zhang D, Luo J, Yan D, Jin C, Dong X, Xiao X (2012). Effects of two curcuminoids on Candida albicans. Chinese Herbal Medicine 4(3):205-212.