content='1;url='http-equiv='refresh'/> Natural Health Remedy: 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The thirst-quenching, refreshing Black
Tamarind is here again! Researchers have
found that besides the folklore uses of
extracts of the plant in the treatment of
infections such as severe cough,
bronchitis, wounds, stomachaches,
malaria fever, jaundice, antiulcer and
haemorrhoids, it is also an effective
therapy for antibiotic-resistant cholera and
Nigerian and South African researchers
have found that the leaf extracts of Black
Tamarind compares favourably with
standard antibiotics in the treatment of
water and food borne diseases such as
diarrhoea and cholera.
The researchers also noted that further
investigations on this plant might lead to
the development of antimicrobial drugs of
natural origin that may combat the rapid
development of multiple resistant to the
available antibiotics by pathogens.
Commonly called Black tamarind, Dialium
guineense belongs to the plant family
Leguminosae-caesalpinioideae. It is called
Icheku by the Igbos of South-east Nigeria,
while to the Yorubas of South-west know it
as Awin.
The researchers from the Department of
Biochemistry and Microbiology, Applied and
Environmental Microbiology Research Group
(AEMREG), University of Fort Hare, Alice
5700, South Africa, and Department of
Microbiology, Obafemi Awolowo University,
Ile Ife, Nigeria concluded, “D. guineense leaf
extract exhibited significant antimicrobial
properties on the environmental strains of
Vibrio spp. used in this study and it
compared favourably with the two
standard antibiotics – ampicillin and
streptomycin used as positive controls.
“D. guineense forms part of the ingredients
used in preparing decoction for the
treatment of some ailments and thus it is
suppose to be safe in consumption and
drugs formulated from this plant may pose
no danger to the users. Antimicrobial drugs
of natural origin developed from this plant
may go a long way in preventing the
establishment of an infection caused by
vibrios and other pathogens that are now
developing resistance to the existing
antimicrobial drugs. Efforts are going on in
our laboratory to isolate pure compounds
of pharmacological importance from the
plant crude extract.”
The study titled: “Anti-vibrio and
preliminary phytochemical characteristics of
crude methanolic extracts of the leaves of
Dialium guineense (Wild)” was published in
the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research.
Vibrios belong to the class of
Gammaproteobacteria, members of the
family Vibrionaceae, are natural inhabitants
of seawater but can also be found in fresh
water. Some of them are human pathogens
and are mainly transmitted to humans
through contaminated water or food. They
are part of the natural flora of bacteria in
seawater and in the gut of many seawater
organisms. They cause gastrointestinal
illnesses in humans, which include
Vibrios can be broadly grouped into two,
namely, the cholera and non-cholera
groups. Among the Vibrio species that can
cause infections in humans are Vibrio
cholerae, V. vulnificus, V. parahaemolyticus,
and V. fluvialis. V. vulnificus and V.
parahaemolyticus are invasive organisms
affecting primarily the human colon.
In addition, V. vulnificus causes bacteremia,
skin and soft tissue infections while the
watery diarrhoea caused by V.
parahaemolyticus is often accompanied
with abdominal cramping, vomiting, fever
and chills. V. fluvialis is associated with
wound infection, septicemia and antibiotics
currently used for the treatment of Vibrio
infections are doxycycline, quinolones,
tetracycline and cephalosporins which are
expensive for most of the African
Previous reports in some literatures indicate
that Dialium guineense leaves and stem
bark are used as folklore remedies for the
treatment of infections such as diarrhoea,
severe cough, bronchitis, wound,
stomachaches, malaria fever, jaundice,
antiulcer and haemorrhoids. Lawal et al.
(2010) reported in their findings that D.
guineense is used as antiulcer and as a
vitamin supplement among some tribes in
the southern part of Nigeria.
Among the 85 medicinal plants investigated
for their potency as antimalaria, D.
guineense was found to inhibit the growth
of Plasmodium falciparum, that is, the
malaria parasite responsible for the illness.
According to the researchers, it is a tree of
an average height of 30m with densely
leafy crown, smooth greyish bark. Leaves
are hairy and the flowers are usually
whitish while the fruits are less circular and
flattened. The pulp of the fruit is edible and
sweet, fairly low levels of ascorbic acid and
tannin are present. It is a fairly good source
of protein and minerals.
The fruits of the plant are chewed among
some women in southeast Nigeria to
improve lactation and check genital
infection. D. guineense is used as chewing
stick (indigenous tooth brush) among
Nigerian populace. Okwu and Ekeke (2003)
reported in their studies that the plant
contains saponin, which is presumed to add
to the cleaning effect of teeth and at the
same time prevent caries and plaques on
the teeth of the users.
Significant antioxidant and molluscidal
activities of D. guineense exhibited have
also been reported. Literatures search
revealed scanty or no reports on anti-Vibrio
activities of D. guineense crude leaves
extracts, hence the need for this research.
The objective was to test the antimicrobial
potentials of this plant on environmental
strains of Vibrio species isolated from some
rivers in the Eastern Cape Province of South
Africa, bearing in mind that, many residents
of Eastern Cape depends on rivers for their
daily water uses.
The crude extract of the plant was found to
possess bioactivity against 14 out of 18
environmental strains of Vibrio species
tested at a final concentration of 20 mg/ml.
On the other hand, the standard antibiotics
used –ampicillin inhibited the growth of 15
out of the 18 tested strains of the Vibrio
species while streptomycin inhibited the
growth of all the tested bacterial isolates.
The zones of inhibitions exhibited by the
extract against the tested bacterial isolates
ranged between 12mm and 20mm. The
zones of inhibition exhibited by ampicillin
against the tested isolates ranged between
7mm and 40mm while streptomycin
exhibited between 12mm and 32mm zones
of inhibition.
Vibrio species are known to be deadly and
can cause gastrointestinal diseases along
with other ailments that can lead to death.
The growths of Vibrio spp. were
successfully inhibited by the extract from D.
Traditionally, different parts (leaves, roots,
stems and barks) of D. guineense are used
among many tribes in Africa to treat
gastrointestinal diseases as well as cholera
infections among other diseases caused by
bacteria. Thus, the results obtained from
this study support the use of D. guineense
as folklore remedies to treat bacterial
infections among many tribes in Africa.
The antimicrobial activity of D. guineense
stem bark extract (though still in crude
form) compared favourably with those of
the standard antibiotics - ampicillin and
streptomycin used in this study. The
minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC)
and minimum bactericidal concentrations
(MBC) of the extract were also determined.
The MIC of the extract against the Vibrio
isolates ranged between 0.313 and 5.0 mg/
ml while the MBC ranged between 0.625 and
10 mg/ml.


Emerging and promising plant-based therapies for cancers.
More researches are confirming the
efficacy of African pepper, bitter leaf, bitter
kola, lime, lemon, garlic, tomatoes, grapes
and other local plants in the management of
cancer. In fact, results of recent work by
Nigerian researchers published in Annals of
Biological Research revealed that quite a
number of plants from the 73 species,
especially the leaves, roots, barks and seeds
studied are efficient in the management of
The study is titled “Ethnobotanical survey of
anti-cancer plants in Ogun State, Nigeria.”
The Nigerian researchers from the
Department of Biological Sciences, Bowen
University, Iwo, Osun State; and Department
of Plant Science and Applied Zoology, Olabisi
Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun
State, found that the prominent plant
species in the recipes are: African pepper
(Xylopia aethopica); Bitter kola (Garcinca
kola); Sausage tree (Kigelia africana);
Anthocleista djalonensis (Sapo in Yoruba,
Kwari in Hausa, Okpokolo in Ibo); Citrus
species (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, lime
and lemon); and Allium species (garlic,
onion, shallot) genera which are indicative
of their importance in the management of
the disease.
Xylopia aethiopica is commonly called
Ethiopian pepper, African pepper or Guinea
pepper. It is of the plant family Annonaceae.
The Edo calls it Unien, it is Atta in Ibibio/Efik,
Uda in Igbo, Urieren in Urhobo, and Eeru in
Yoruba. The stem bark, fruits, seeds and
roots are used for stomach-aches,
dysentery, bronchitis, cancer, ulcers, fever
and debility, rheumatism, post-partum
management and fertility-enhancing, and
Garcinia kola is a fruit-bearing tree that
belongs to the family Guttiferae. It is found
in moist forests and grows as a medium
sized tree up to 14m high. The plant is
commonly called “bitter kola” in Nigeria
because of the bitter taste of its seeds.
Garcinia kola seed (hereafter referred to as
GKS) has long been used in sub-Saharan
Africa as an antidote for ingested poison,
and as a cure for a number of ailments and
conditions such as abdominal colicky pain,
chest cold, cough and hepatitis.
The documented and suggested clinical uses
of GKS include drug detoxification,
bronchodilation (for asthma), liver
disorders, male virility, blood sugar
regulation, lipid disorders, infectious
diseases, boosting of immune system and
weight reduction. Most of the reported
bioactivities associated with GKS are
believed to be related to the presence of
biflavonoids, which are well known for
their antioxidant activities.
Scientists have also found that the sausage
tree (Kigelia africana/pinnata) could be
effectively used to treat cancers.
According to ethnobotany and recent
scientific work of Prof. P. J. Houghton of the
Pharmacognosy Research Laboratories,
Department of Pharmacy, King’s College
London, “experiments into the effect of
Kigelia extracts and some of the pure
compounds contained therein, on micro-
organisms and cancer cells have shown that
the traditional use of this plant is given
considerable justification. In addition, there
exists evidence for its anti-inflammatory
Investigation into the biological activity of
Kigelia pinnata has focused on its
antibacterial activity and its cytotoxic
effects against cancer cell lines. These are
related to the traditional uses of bark and
fruit extracts for treating diseases caused
by micro-organisms and as a remedy for
skin cancer.
Anthocleista djalonensis is of the plant
family Loganiaceae. It is called Sapo
(Yoruba), Kwari (Hausa), and Okpokolo
(Igbo). All parts of Anthocleista djalonensis
are active pharmacologically, but especially
the root, which is most often used. It is
diuretic and vigorously purgative, and in
Ivory Coast used as a poison-antidote, for
leprosy, as an emmenagogue (stimulates
mensuration), abortifacient, and in
treatment of oedemas and elephantiasis of
the scrotum. A root decoction is taken in
Sierra Leone for chest-pains, and for
constipation and gonorrhoea. A hot water
extract of the root has been used in Nigeria
for women suffering from infertility and
irregular painful menstruation;
effectiveness remains unclear, but pain is
said to be reduced.
It has been shown that incorporating plenty
of citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerine
and grapefruit in the daily diet plan may
offer another important yet lesser known
nutritional bonus: citrus limonoids.
A study published 2005 showed that citrus
limonoids help fight cancers of the mouth,
skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon in
laboratory tests with animals and with
human cells.
Studies have further shown that limonoids
inhibit the development of cancer in
laboratory animals and in human breast
cancer cells as well as reducing cholesterol.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is of plant family
Liliaceae. Local names: Igbo - Ayuu; Yoruba -
Ayu. The bulb is used for fevers, coughs,
constipation, asthma, nervous disorders,
hypertension, ulcers and skin diseases. It is
highly bacteriostatic (stops the growth of
bacteria), fungicidal (kills fungi) and
antihelmintic (worm expeller).
Also, a study published last week in the
journal Carcinogenesis showed that in both
cell lines and mouse models, grape seed
extract (GSE) kills head and neck squamous
cell carcinoma cells, while leaving healthy
cells unharmed.
The researchers said grape seed extract
creates these conditions that are
unfavorable to growth. Specifically, the
paper showed that grape seed extract both
damages cancer cells’ DNA (via increased
reactive oxygen species) and stops the
pathways that allow repair (as seen by
decreased levels of the DNA repair
molecules Brca1 and Rad51 and DNA repair
Another study by Nigerian and British
researchers at the Pharmaceutical Science
Division, King’s College London, Franklin-
Wilkins Building, 150, Stamford Street,
London, United Kingdom concluded: “Most
of the species tested had some cytotoxic
effect on the cancer cell lines, which to
some extent supports their traditional
inclusion in herbal preparations for
treatment of cancer. However, little
selectivity for cancer cells was observed,
which raises concerns over their safety and
efficacy in traditional treatment. The
longistylins A and C appear to be
responsible for much of the activity of
Cajanus cajan extract.”
Cajanus cajan is Pigeon pea in English, Olele
in Edo, Shingwazo in Gwari, Aduwa in
Hausa, Agadagbulu in Igala, Fio fio in Igbo,
Alev in Tiv, Otili in Yoruba.
Besides its confirmed use as an anti-sickling
agent, the leaf extracts of Cajanus cajan are
prepared in a infusion for anaemia,
hepatitis, diabetes, urinary infections, and
yellow fever.
The study titled “Ethnobotanical survey and
cytotoxicity testing of plants of South-
Western Nigeria used to treat cancer, with
isolation of cytotoxic constituents from
Cajanus cajan leaves” was published in
Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Meanwhile, the Annals of Biological
Research study indicates nature has some
remedy for cancer patients. “Some
substances have been found to be anti-
carcinogenic, that is they fight cancer
forming cells and help to eliminate them
from the body, for example cumaric acid
and lycopen, which are found naturally in
tomatoes fruits (Lycopersicum esculentum)
and the leaves of bitter leaf (Vernonia
amygdalina),” they said.
Lycopene, the main active ingredient in
tomatoes are beneficial to health, but it
serves as a natural antioxidant, prevent
prostate cancer in elderly men and breast
cancer for women as well as reduce the
occurrence of osteoporosis.
According to the researchers, a lot of
research has been and is still being done on
the effectiveness of Aloe vera, Morinda
lucida, Nympheae lotus (water lily) and
Pycanthus angolensis for managing cancer.
Aloe vera has been shown to be a beneficial
herb in the treatment of cancer in animals.
Actually, the United States Department of
Agriculture has agreed to make use of Aloe
vera for curing of soft tissue cancer in
animals in 1992.
There is a great scientific proof that Aloe
vera restrains the developing of cancer
tumour, raises levels of tumour necrosis,
stimulates immune system response and
enhances healthy tissue.
Morinda lucida belongs to the plant family
Rubiaceae. It is commonly called Brimstone
tree. It is Oruwo or Erewo in Yoruba, Eze-
ogu or Njisi in Igbo, Marga in Hausa.
Morinda lucida is a tropical West Africa
rainforest tree also called brimstone tree.
The leaves are widely used in the treatment
of malaria, typhoid fever, jaundice and
dressing of wounds to prevent infections. A
weak decoction of the stem bark is used for
the treatment of severe jaundice, cancer,
poor low sperm count and diabetes.
The plant Pycnanthus angolensis belongs to
the Myristicaceae family. It is also called
Pycnanthus kombo. The plant common
names include African Nutmeg and Wild
Nutmeg. In Nigerian languages, it is referred
to as Akomu (Yoruba), Akujaadi (Hausa) and
Egwunoma (Igbo).
The Ethnopharmacological survey of the
plant, Pycnanthus angolensis, according to a
study by Agyare C. et al (2009) in the
Journal of Ethnopharmacology Vol. 125
issued 3, pp 393-403 confirms the potency
of aqeous extracts of the plant for wound
healing and it establishes antioxidant
activities of the ethanolic extracts of the
plant. The plant was reported to be good for
stomach ulcer treatment due to its anti-
adhesive activity against helicobacter pylori
on human stomach cells.
According to the Journal of
Ethnopharmacology study, structured
questionnaires were used to explore the
ethnobotanical practices amongst the
traditional healers. Methanol extracts of the
most common species cited were screened
for cytotoxicity using the sulforhodamine B
(SRB) assay in both exposure and recovery
experiments. Three cancer cell lines (human
breast adenocarcinoma cell line MCF-7,
human large cell lung carcinoma cell line
COR-L23 and human amelanotic melanoma
C32) and one normal cell line (normal human
keratinocytes SVK-14) were used for the
screening of the extracts and the fractions
The extract of Cajanus cajan showed
considerable activity and was further
partitioned and the dichloromethane
fraction was subjected to preparative
chomatography to yield six compounds:
Hexadecanoic acid methyl ester, alpha-
amyrin, beta-sitosterol, pinostrobin,
longistylin A and longistylin C. Pinostrobin
and longistylins A and C were tested for
cytotoxicity on the cancer cell lines. In
addition, an adriamycin-sensitive acute T-
lymphoblastic leukaemia cell line (CCRF-CEM)
and its multidrug-resistant sub-line (CEM/
ADR5000) were used in an XTT assay to
evaluate the activity of the pure
compounds obtained.
A total of 30 healers from south-west
Nigeria were involved in the study. 45
species were recorded with their local
names with parts used in the traditional
therapeutic preparations. Cytotoxicity (IC
(50) values less than 50 microg/mL) was
observed in five species (Acanthospermum
hispidum- ewe onitan meta in Yoruba),
Cajanus cajan, Morinda lucida, Nymphaea
lotus and Pycnanthus angolensis).
Acanthospermum hispidum and Cajanus
cajan were the most active. The
dichloromethane fraction of Cajanus cajan
had IC (50) value 5-10 microg/mL, with the
two constituent stilbenes, longistylins A and
C, being primarily responsible, with IC (50)
values of 0.7-14.7 microM against the range
of cancer cell lines.
Investigator at the University of Colorado
Cancer Centre and professor at the Skaggs
School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr.
Rajesh Agarwal, said: “It is a rather dramatic
effect. It depends in large part, says
Agarwal, on a healthy cell’s ability to wait
out damage. Cancer cells are fast-growing
cells. Not only that, but they are necessarily
fast growing. When conditions exist in
which they can’t grow, they die.”
The Agarwal Lab hopes to move in the
direction of clinical trials of grape seed
extract, potentially as an addition to second-
line therapies that target head and neck
squamous cell carcinoma that has failed a
first treatment.


The bark of African star apple has been
shown to be more effective than
chloroquine in treating malaria without
any toxic side effects.
IT is time to savour the African star apple or
rather local cherry. The brownish fruit
(when ripe) of this local delicacy is on
display in almost all the markets especially
in southern Nigeria. African cherry is
synonymous with harmattan. It is usually
harvested or rather the plant sheds its fruits
during the season.
African star apple, also known as
Chrysophyllum albidum belongs to the
family Sapotaceae. The plant is known as
udara in Igbo and agbalumo in Yoruba.
The fruit of African star apple has been
found to have a very high content of
ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) with 1000 to 3,300
mg of ascorbic acid per 100 g of edible fruit
or about 100 times that of oranges and 10
times that of guava or cashew.
Also, several other components of the tree
including the roots and leaves are
reportedly used for medicinal purposes.
Until now, the bark is used as a remedy for
yellow fever and malaria while the leaves
are used as emollients and for the treatment
of skin eruption, diarrhoea and
stomachache. Eleagnine, an alkaloid isolated
from C. albidum seed cotyledon has been
reported to have anti-nociceptive, anti-
inflammatory and antioxidant activities.
But a new study published recently in
Journal of Physiology and Pathphysiology
suggest that the extracts of the bark of
African star apple could provide the next
best anti-malarial drug. Indeed, the extract
was found to be more effective than
chloroquine in treating malaria.
The study titled “Anti-plasmodial and
toxicological effects of methanolic bark
extract of Chrysophyllum albidum in albino
mice” was authored by E. O. Adewoye of
the Department of Physiology, College of
Medicine, University of Ibadan; A. T. Salami
of the Department of Nursing Science, Lead
City University, Ibadan; and V. O. Taiwo of
the Department of Veterinary Pathology,
University of Ibadan, Oyo State.
The researchers evaluated the anti-
plasmodial, hematological, serum
biochemical and pathological effects of
Chrysophyllum albidum methanolic bark
extract using Swiss albino male mice as
According to the study, the LD50 of the
methanolic extract was 1850 mg/kg body
weight. C. albidum methanolic bark extract
(750 - 1500 mg/kg/day) exhibited
significant schizontocidal activities both in a
four-day (early) infection and in an
established (greater than seven days)
infection with a considerable mean survival
time comparable to that of chloroquine.
The LD50 is a standardised measure for
expressing and comparing the toxicity of
chemicals. The LD50 is the dose that kills half
(50 per cent) of the animals tested (LD =
“lethal dose”). The animals are usually rats
or mice, although rabbits, guinea pigs,
hamsters, and so on are sometimes used.
Schizontocides are drugs used in the
treatment of malaria, which act against
blood stage parasites. Despite the name,
formed schizonts are in fact relatively drug
resistant. The earlier parasite stages- mature
trophozoites are more drug-sensitive.
Examples of schizontocides are quinine and
The researchers said that the plant extract
treated mice did not develop appreciable
anaemia. This observation shows that the
methanolic extract of C. albidum contains
anti-plasmodial substance(s) which help to
reduce parasitaemia and hence the rate of
erythrocyte (red blood cell) destruction
during infection.
Plasmodial describes a protozoan of the
genus Plasmodium, which includes the
parasites that cause malaria.
According to the study, the organ and tissue
pathology during infection was milder at
low doses, compared to the untreated mice
and insignificant at higher doses of the
extract, showing that the extract is non-
toxic. It also validates the local consumption
of the extracts of C. albidum as an anti-
malarial agent.
Indeed, the results from this investigation
suggest that the methanolic extract of the
bark of C. albidum has anti-plasmodial
activities and is non-toxic to mice when
administered even at 1,500 mg/kg/day. It,
however, appears to be more effective at a
dose of 1,000 mg/kg/day.
An earlier study on the life span of the mice
infected with Plasmodium berghei berghei
revealed that it is between the seven to 10
days post-innoculation. This is in line with
the drug treatment employed both in the
suppressive and established or Rane test in
this study. This time frame was used in
order to prevent the death of animals
before the end or drug treatment regime
during the experiment.
It had been reported that plants whose
phyto-chemical compounds include
alkaloids, anthraquinones and saponins
may have antimalarial activities. These
reports are similar to those obtained in this
study as methanoic bark extract of C.
albidum contains alkaloids, anthraquinones,
saponins, cardenolides and tannins. These
phytochemical compounds were also similar
to those reportedly found in the leaves and
stems of C. albidum.
Saponins have been found to have
antiprotozoan activities as well as possible
defaunating agents in the rumen. This
property has been exploited in the
treatment of protozoal infections in other
animals. Triterpenoid and steroid saponins
have been found to be detrimental to
several infectious protozoans, one of which
is Plasmodium falciparum.
This report supports what was observed in
this experiment both in the suppressive and
established infections. The mechanism of
action by which saponins work, might be
through their toxicity to protozoans, which
may be widespread and non-specific. It
might also be as a result of their detergent
effect on the cell membranes.
C. albidum has also been found to contain
alkaloids and these have been associated
with medicinal uses for centuries, though
other possible roles have not been
examined. One of the most common
biological properties of alkaloids is their
toxicity against cells of foreign organisms
like bacteria, viruses and protozoans to
which malaria parasites belong. These
activities have been widely studied for their
potential use in the elimination and
reduction of human cancer cell lines.
Alkaloids also possess anti-inflammatory,
anti- asthmatic and anti-anaphylactic
properties with consequences of altered
immunological status in vivo. The
significant reduction in parasitic load in
infected mice treated with methanolic
extract of C. albidum prevented rapid
destruction of parasitized red blood cells
and development of mild and insignificant
anaemia on days five and seven.
The results also show that chloroquine at 10
mg/kg/day is equally effective in
prevention of anaemia due to its anti-
protozoan effect in infected mice. It is
noteworthy, however, that all the infected
mice treated or untreated developed
leucocytosis, which was most severe in
mice treated with chloroquine. The
leukocytosis may be an indication of
enhanced granulopoiesis and
lymphocytosis as cellular and humoral
responses, respectively to the protozoan
infection. This is corroborated by enhanced
serum globulin levels (hyperglobulinemia)
and reactive spleens in infected mice in this


The popular zobo drink made from the
calyx (flower part) of roselle (Hibiscus
sabdariffa) has been successfully used in
traditional medicine to treat various
diseases such as cough, hypertension,
stomach disorders, loss of appetite, upper
respiratory congestion, nerve and heart
disorders and menstrual difficulties. But
recent studies suggest that although it
could be used to reduce the risk of kidney
damage in diabetics, high doses could lead
to kidney damage.
CAN drinking high doses of the popular
zobo drink lead to kidney damage? Results
of a recent study suggest that aqueous
extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa (HSE) has no
harmful effect on the liver but when
consumed in high doses could be harmful
to the kidney. “Further research aimed at
identifying the chemical composition and
potential toxic agent(s) in HS is
recommended,” the researchers wrote.
Commonly called zobo or roselle in Nigeria,
Hibiscus sabdariffa belongs to the plant
family malvaceae.
The study titled: “Toxicilogical effects of
aqueous extract of Hibiscus Sabdariffa on
the liver and kidney,” was published in
Journal of College of Medicine.
The aim of the study is to show the effect
of graded doses of aqueous extract of HS
on major excretory organs (liver and
kidney) of albino Wistar rats. This may be
helpful in determining the safety or
otherwise of its consumption at different
The researchers wrote: “There were no
significant changes in the histology of the
liver throughout the period of HS
administration in all the groups. However,
there were significant histological changes
in the kidney, which were more
pronounced at higher doses (80 and
160mg/kg). There was shrinkage of
glomerular tuft, increase in urinary pole,
increase in size of tubular lumen and
tubular damage. These effects were more
marked as the duration of administration of
the extract progressed with greatest effect
observed at 12th week.”
Another study found that Hibiscus
sabdariffa might help treat kidney stones
via uricosuric activity. The study titled:
“Uricosuric effect of Roselle (Hibiscus
sabdariffa) in normal and renal-stone
former subjects,” was published in Journal
of Ethnopharmacology.
Uricosuric agents are used to lower the uric
acid level in the blood and to prevent the
formation of uric acid crystals in the joints
and kidneys. These drugs are often used to
treat gout, a disease in which uric acid
crystals deposit in joints and cause pain. By
decreasing plasma uric acid levels, these
drugs decrease the deposition of crystals in
joints, eventually decreasing inflammation
and thereby reducing the pain of gout.
Researchers from Thailand conducted a
study with nine subjects with no history of
kidney stones and nine with a history of
kidney stones. A cup of tea made from 1.5
grams of dry roselle was provided to
subjects twice daily (morning and evening)
for 15 days.
After taking the tea, both groups showed
increases in oxalate and citrate. In the non-
kidney stone group, increases in uric acid
excretion and clearance were observed. In
the patients with kidney stones, both uric
acid excretion and clearance were
significantly increased.
The study authors concluded that roselle
has a uricosuric effect and they suggested
that the chemical constituents exerting this
effect should be identified.
Also, researchers have shown that aqueous
(water) extracts of HSE is capable of
reducing lipid peroxidation, increasing
catalase and glutathione activities
significantly in diabetic kidney, and
decreasing the plasma levels of triglyceride,
low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increasing
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) value.
Lipid peroxidation is a well-defined
mechanism of cellular damage in both
animals and plants that occurs in vivo
during aging and in certain disease states.
Catalase is an antioxidant enzyme found in
living organisms that changes hydrogen
peroxide to water and oxygen. Hydrogen
peroxide is formed as a toxic waste product
of metabolism. It must be quickly converted
into other, less dangerous, chemicals. To
manage this problem, the enzyme catalase
is frequently used to rapidly catalyse the
decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into
harmless oxygen and water.
Glutathione is an antioxidant compound
found in living animal and plant tissue.
Glutathione is the major endogenous
antioxidant produced by the cell.
Glutathione participates directly in the
neutralization of free radicals, reactive
oxygen compounds, and maintains
exogenous antioxidants such as vitamins C
and E in their reduced (active) forms. In
addition, through direct conjugation,
glutathione plays a role in the detoxification
of many xenobiotics (foreign compounds)
both organic and inorganic. Glutathione is
an essential component of the human
immune response.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid found in
blood. When food is consumed, calories are
released by the oxidation of food. The
calories, which the body does not exhaust,
are converted into energy resources called
triglycerides which are stored in the fat cells
of the body and are used to supply energy
when required. Under the action of certain
hormones these triglycerides are broken
into simpler, absorbable forms of fatty acids
to liberate energy.
LDL is “bad” cholesterol, while HDL is “good”
According to the study published in
Evidence-Based Complementary and
Alternative Medicine, HSE, in histological
examination, improves hyperglycemia-
caused osmotic diuresis in renal proximal
convoluted tubules (defined as hydropic
change) in diabetic rats.
Hyperglycemia or Hyperglycæmia, or high
blood sugar, is a condition in which an
excessive amount of glucose circulates in
the blood plasma.
Osmotic diuresis is increased urination
caused by the presence of certain
substances in the small tubes of the
The proximal convoluted tubule is the most
proximal segment of the renal tubular
portion of the nephron. It is responsible for
the reabsorption of glucose, amino acids,
various ions and water.
The study also reveals that up-regulation of
Akt/Bad/14-3-3? and NF-?B-mediated
transcription might be involved.
The researchers concluded: “In conclusion,
our results show that HSE possesses the
potential effects to ameliorate diabetic
nephropathy via improving oxidative
status and regulating Akt/Bad/14-3-3?
The study is titled: “Aqueous extract from
Hibiscus sabdariffa linnaeus ameliorate
diabetic nephropathy via regulating
oxidative status and Akt/Bad/14-3-3? in an
experimental animal model.”
Several studies point out that oxidative
stress maybe a major culprit in diabetic
nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is
kidney disease or damage that occurs in
people with diabetes. HSE has been
demonstrated as having beneficial effects
on anti-oxidation and lipid-lowering in
experimental studies.
This study investigated the effects of
Hibiscus sabdariffa L. on diabetic
nephropathy in streptozotocin induced type
1 diabetic rats.
Diabetic mellitus (DM) is a consequence of
chronic metabolic aberrations including
hyperlipidemia. High glucose facilitating the
glycolysis and adenosine triphosphate
generation would cause huge reactive
oxygen species (ROS) production. Under
physiological circumstances, ROS involve
some signaling molecules and follow
defense mechanisms such as phagocytosis,
neutrophil function and shear-stress
induced vasorelaxation.
However, excessive oxidative stress could
damage proteins, lipids, and DNA and
eliminate anti-oxidative enzymes or
molecules. Ujihara et al. observed that
oxidized LDL level was significantly higher
in diabetic patients with macroalbuminuria.
They suggested that oxidized-LDL might
play an important role in diabetic
Experimentally, the oxidative level of LDL
can be determined by detecting lipid
peroxidation. Antioxidant defense
mechanisms include free radical scavengers
and enzyme systems, such as superoxide
dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase
(GSH) and catalase (CAT). Previous studies
showed that these anti-oxidative molecules
were reduced in diabetes.
In addition to the devastating damage
effect on macromolecules, oxidative stress
can be involved in cellular signal
transduction including Akt signaling
pathway. Akt is a principal mediator of
biological functions of insulin in glucose
metabolism. Phosphorylated Akt can
regulate apoptosis via activating Bad to
associate with 14-3-3? protein and also to
activate nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-?B) to
regulate transcription.
Recent studies showed the importance of
phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3-K) and Akt
signaling pathway in diabetic nephropathy
including regulation of renal mesangial
hypertrophy and renal tubular cells
proteolysis. It has been well known that
hyperglycemia and insulin could modulate
Akt activity in diabetic renal tissue.
However, the results are not compatible.
Furthermore, the correlation between
oxidative stress and Akt signaling in
diabetic renal tissues has not been well
A wide variety of natural products have
been found to possess capacity to control
metabolic problems and oxidative stress in
diabetes. Hibiscus sabdariffa Linnaeus is
usually used as a beverage. The
constituents in the flowers of Hibiscus
species are polyphenolic acids, flavonoids,
and anthocyanins.
Previous studies found that HSE possessed
anti-oxidative characteristics and had anti-
atherosclerotic effects. Recent
pharmacological studies also showed that
HSE significantly reduced blood pressure in
humans and in experimental animals.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Researchers have found that a
local plant commonly used to reduce blood
sugar level in diabetics, stimulate the
immune system in people living with
Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
(AIDS), protect the liver from damage,
reduce cholesterol, treat viral infections
and malaria could offer protection against
radiation, boost bone marrow growth and
decrease sperm count.
COMMONLY called stonebreaker, Phyllanthus
niruri also known as ‘Chanca piedra’ belongs
to the family Euphorbiaceae. Phyllanthus
niruri is similar to Phyllanthus amarus,
which also belongs to the same family. It is
a widespread tropical plant commonly
found in coastal areas that grows 40 to
70cm tall.
In Nigeria, it is called enyikwonwa and
ngwu in the Ibo, oyomokeso amanke edem
in Efik, geeron-tsuntsaayee (bird’s millet) in
Hausa, ehin olobe and yin-olobe in Yoruba.
Before now, all parts of this herb have been
proved to have a wide range of therapeutic
effects. Phyllanthus niruri has been
reported to reduce significantly blood sugar
level. Adedapo et al in 2005 reported the
immune stimulating effect of this herb.
Phyllanthus niruri has been reported to play
hepato-protective and antioxidant role.
Hepato-protection or anti-hepatotoxicity is
the ability to prevent damage to the liver.
Phyllanthus niruri has also been shown to
act as a hypo-lipemic agent, anti-lithic agent,
anti-viral and anti-malarial properties. Hypo-
lipemic is an agent that lowers the
concentration of fats in the blood. Anti-lithic
means preventing the formation of calculi,
or an agent that so acts. Calculi are mineral
deposits that can form a blockage in the
urinary system.
However, new findings suggest that the
aqueous crude extract of Phyllanthus niruri
could be used to protect humans from the
effect of radiation and has antifertility
According to a study published in Indian
Journal of Experimental Biology by
researchers at the Department of Research,
Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital and
Research Centre, India, Phyllanthus niruri
protects against radiation clastogenecity in
mouse bone marrow.
Clastogenic is an adjective that describes the
ability of an agent or process to act as a
clastogen—an agent or process giving rise
to or inducing disruption or breakages of
The researchers studied the effects of
aqueous (PnAq) and alcoholic (PnA1 extract
(50-250 mg/kg) of P. niruri on in vivo
gamma radiation induced chromosome
aberration and in vitro antioxidant activity
(50-500 microg/ml). The antioxidant
activity was studied by measuring
inhibition of hydroxyl radicals generated by
the fenton reaction along with pro-oxidant
and iron chelating ability.
PnA1 showed highly significant in vitro free
radical scavenging ability when compared
to DMSO above 250 microg/ml
concentration. Dimethyl Sulphoxide (DMSO)
is a colorless liquid, which is an important
polar aprotic solvent that dissolves both
polar and nonpolar compounds and is
miscible in a wide range of organic solvents
as well as water. It penetrates the skin very
PnAq showed significant pro-oxidant
activity while PnA1 was devoid of it at the
tested concentrations. Exposure to gamma
radiation caused 29.10 per cent increase in
the frequency of chromosomal aberrations.
Administration of PnA1 (250 mg/kg)
showed highly significant decrease in
chromosomal aberrations compared to
radiation treated group.
The radio-protective potential of alcoholic
extract was found to be more effective
than the aqueous extract. Qualitative
phytochemical investigation of PnAq and
PnA1 revealed the presence of sugars,
flavonoids, alkaloid, lignans, polyphenols,
tannins, coumarins and saponins.
“Higher radio-protective effect of the
alcoholic extract may be attributed to rich
presence of antioxidant polyphenolic
compounds,” the researchers concluded.
According to another study published in
online academic student journal, Student
Pulse, the observation of progressive
weakness and reduction in agility across
the group may be as a result of a parameter
that did not form part of this research.
The study is titled: “Antifertility Effects of
Aqueous Extract of Phyllanthus niruri in
Male Albino Rats.”
According to the lead researcher, Valentine
U. Ezeonwu, the decrease in fertility
potentials reported after the treatment of
male rats with dihydroarteminisinin has
been attributed to impairment in sperm
motility and viability. Treatment of animals
with antimalarial drugs usually result in
reducing the sperm counts, motility,
viability and visible alteration alters the
morphology of the sperms, such
impairment of male fertility has been
reported with chloroquine and halofantrine
treated rats. Similar reports have been
reported in herbs that have anti-malarial
The study reads, “the findings of the
present study showed that the aqueous
extract of P.niruri could significantly alter
the fertility potential of male rats. The mere
fact that there was lack of effect on the
body weight on treated animals does not
rule out the possibility of a systemic toxicity
at the doses treated due to behavioral
alterations observed within the treated
group. The treated groups showed
progressive decrease in agility.
“Furthermore the significant increase
indicates that the extract may have toxic
effect on this organ. Simons et al (1995)
noted that increase or decrease in weight of
an organ after the administration of a
chemical agent is an indicator of a toxic
effect of such agent.
“The significant depletion of the fructose
level of the seminal fluid and reduction of
sperm viability, sperm motility and sperm
counts shows that the extract has the
potential to penetrate the blood-testis
barriers. Baddessarini (1980) reported that
effect of chemical agents on sperm
composition is attributed to their ability to
penetrate this barrier.
“This depletion of seminal fructose across
all the treated groups (p<0.05) invariably
affects the sperm motility and viability since
fructose serves as the driving energy of the
sperm and since fructose is androgen-
dependent may indicate reduction in
circulating androgen levels.
“Similarly, the decrease in sperm qualities
points to reduction in the circulating
androgen level. I would take caution in
suggesting that the near absence of
fructose is an indication of an obstruction
either in vas deferens or the epididymis
(Zhu et al 2006; Gonzales 1997) due to the
technique used in collection of the sample.
“Any chemical agent that can affect
reproductive activity will as well affect the
quality and quantity of the sperm. The
sperm counts, motility and viability of the
treated samples were significantly
decreased in groups D and E (p<0.05) when
compared to the control, such decrease can
be attributed anti-androgenic property of
the extract. Animals fed with 100mg/kg
showed no significant change in all the
parameters tested except the fructose level,
which indicates that at this concentration
the extract may not be toxic.
“Summarily, these observations show that
the aqueous extract of Phyllanthus niruri
may have antifertility effects in albino rats
at doses above 200mg/kg. But since there
has been no such documentation of the
plant with respect to humans research
should be directed towards this area to
assess the effect of the extract on man.”