Scopoletin has been isolated and identified in gari, a cassava food consumed in Nigeria (West Africa). Its levels in gari and cassava flour is not altered by post processing treatments such as sundrying, refrigeration and storage. Scopoletin has also been identified as an active principle in the traditional herbal infusion of the fruit of Tetrapleura tetraptera TAUB used in the ethnopharmacology of West Africa. It is a potent hypotensive and non-specific spasmolytic agent. These pharmacological effects of Scopoletin are probably the underlying factors in the slowly developing tropical neuropathy characterised by optic atrophy, nerve deafness and ataxia endemic among populations subsisting on cassava diets such as gari. Hitherto, these toxicities were attributed to cyanogenic glucosides (cyanide) present in cassava.
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 08/1991; 41(3):283-9. DOI:10.1007/BF02196398