In developing countries modern medicines are often beyond the affordability of the majority of the population. This is due to the reliance on expensive imported raw materials despite the abundance of natural resources which could provide an equivalent or even an improved function. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of sesamum gum (SG) extracted from the leaves of Sesamum radiatum (readily cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa) as a matrix former. Directly compressed matrix tablets were prepared from the extract and compared with similar matrices of HPMC (K4M) using theophylline as a model water soluble drug. The compaction, swelling, erosion and drug release from the matrices were studied in deionized water, 0.1 N HCl (pH 1.2) and phosphate buffer (pH 6.8) using USP apparatus II. The data from the swelling, erosion and drug release studies were also fitted into the respective mathematical models. Results showed that the matrices underwent a combination of swelling and erosion, with the swelling action being controlled by the rate of hydration in the medium. SG also controlled the release of theophylline similar to the HPMC and therefore may have use as an alternative excipient in regions where Sesamum radiatum can be easily cultivated.