Phytochemical and bio-activity evaluation of Commicarpus plumbagineus standl: A medicinal plant used traditionally in reproductive health care in Uganda
Ojok, Miriam Fiona
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Commicarpus plumbagineus Standl. (Nyctaginaceae) is a traditional medicinal plant used to treat a variety of diseases including urinary tract infections, prevention of miscarriages, purification and improvement of blood texture, fibroids, dysmenorrhoea, hypermenorrhoea and coagulation of blood. However, no scientific validation on the claimed cure of diseases by C. plumbagineus had been carried out and as such; the chemical profile and bioactivity were not known. This research was carried out to upgrade herbal medicine through scientific validation and evidence-based research on bioactivity. The leaf and stem of C. plumbagineus were collected, dried and extracted in diethyl ether, ethanol and water. The tests carried out included; uterine motility, phytochemical screening, antimicrobial (disc diffusion method) and whole blood and ELISA assays for immunology. Phytochemical results revealed that saponins, glycosides, sugars, oleanolic acid, blue terpenoids, steroids, phytosterols, carboxylic acid and nitrogen containing compounds were abundant as in other species found in Nyctaginaceae. Antimicrobial tests showed that the plant was inactive at 50% (0.05g/ml) on both Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus therefore did not show antimicrobial activity. Immunology tests revealed that the stem and leaf aqueous extracts induced higher IFN-gamma (responsible for antibody production) as compared to IL-10 (associated with successful pregnancies) even after stimulation with PHA (mimics an infection). The plant is therefore an immune booster. Uterine motility results showed that the leaf aqueous extract caused uterine relaxation at 10% (0.01g/ml) through to 80% (0.08g/ml) and the stem extract caused uterine relaxation at 80% (0.08g/ml). The relaxing effect on the uterine muscle by C. plumbagineus supports the prevention of miscarriages, dysmenorrhoea and hypermenorrhoea. There is need for more research in the areas of dosage, toxicity, invitro tests and broad spectrum antimicrobial activity.