Scientific Names of Manna-Ash: Fraxinus ornus L. [Fam. Oleaceae]

Dried bark exudate (sugary sap) of the manna ash

Traditional Usage:
– Anti-inflammatory (bark)

– Antimicrobial (bark)

– Antioxidant (bark)

– Antiparasitic (bark)

– Antihelmintic (dewormer) (bark)

– Antiviral (bark)

– Immunomodulatory (bark)

– Insect repellent (bark)

– Milk Laxative (manna sugar)

– Nutritive (manna sugar)

– Sun Damage Prevention (bark)

– Sweetener (manna sugar)

– Taste Concealer (manna sugar)

– Taste Enhancer (manna sugar)

– Tonic

– Wounds (bark)

The flowering, or manna, ash, Fraxinus ornus L. [Fam. Oleaceae], notable for its long petals, is cultivated in Italy 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, however, in some cases it produces flatulence, gastric bloating and discomfort. 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. Out of 51 medicinal plants commonly used in Central Italy, Fraxinus ornus bark was among the most often sited for treating parasites and use as a parasite 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. The total ethanol extract of the stem bark of Fraxinus ornus and its constituent esculin display significant anti-inflammatory activity in mice. These results show that the traditional use of Fraxinus ornus stem bark in the treatment of inflammatory disorders is at least partially due to its coumarins constituents. Esculin is also known to act as a choleretic agent for stimulating bile flow and aiding digestion, and has noted activity for preventing the development of abnormal growths.

Active Ingredients:
Manna-ash sugar contains: Approximately 70% mannite or manna sugar, 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 colour to manna sugar and may be the active purgative compound. Manna also contains some true sugar, a small quantity of mucilage and minerals. Manna-ash bark contains: hydroxycoumarins; the coumarin, esculin; secoiridoid glucosides; phenylethanoids and flavonoids. Related Fraxinus rhynchophylla Hance bark used in Chinese medicine contains: aesculetin; aesculin; arsenic; calcium; copper; fraxetin; fraxin; iron; magnesium; manganese; mercury; potassium; sodium and zinc.

Suggested Amount:
Manna is almost always taken with water or mixed with other juices or medicines. It is generally given dissolved in water or some aromatic infusion, but the best Flake Manna

Manna is also used in preparing the digestive formula, Swedish Bitters.

Drug Interactions:
None known

Laxatives are contraindicated in the case of impacted bowel (serious bowel obstruction) or ileus of any origin (danger of intestinal rupture).

Side Effects:
It generally produces no side effects and operates very mildly, however, in larger dosages it can cause nausea, flatulence, gastric bloating and discomfort.


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

Grieve, M. 2001. Ash, Manna. Botanical: Fraxinus ornus (LINN.) Copyright © 1995 – 2001 Electric Newt.

Guarrera PM. 1999. Traditional antihelmintic, antiparasitic and repellent uses of plants in Central Italy. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Dec 15; 68(1-3): 183-92.

Iossifova T, Kujumgiev A, Ignatova A, Vassileva E, Kostova I. 1994. Antimicrobial effects of some hydroxycoumarins and secoiridoids from Fraxinus ornus bark.

Pharmazie. 1994 Apr; 49(4): 298-9.

Stefanova Z, Neychev H, Ivanovska N, Kostova I. 1995. Effect of a total extract from Fraxinus ornus stem bark and esculin on zymosan- and carrageenan-induced paw oedema in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 May; 46(2): 101-6.