An evaluation of plants used in eastern Nigeria in the treatment of epilepsy and convulsion.
Ogbonnia, Steve Okwudili.
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Schumanniophyton magnificum and Glypheae brevis are important medicinal plants growing wild in the West African rain forest. They are used in folkloric medicine in the treatment of epilepsy and convulsion as well as for some other diseases. The purpose of this work was to investigate the aspect of folkloric use in order to support folkloric claims and document the findings. The extracts were prepared from ground plant material by a continuous extraction method. Five hundred grams of ground plant material were continuously de-fatted with 2 L petroleum ether (60°- 80°) in a Soxhlet apparatus for about 5 h. The resulting marc was dried and the chemical constituents extracted hot in a Soxhlet apparatus for about 8 to 10 h with 2 L aqueous ethanol (70%). The efficacy of the extraction method was confirmed using standard bioassays and phytochemical analyses. The anti-convulsant activity of the crude extracts was evaluated in vivo against chemically induced convulsions using three different animal models, namely the strychnine, the picrotoxin and the pentylenetetrazole tests. The acute and delayed toxicity test results showed that in all the animal models investigated very high doses, about four times higher than the protective doses of the extracts, were required to kill 50% of the population of animal used. Phytochemical assays of the extracts indicated the presence of alkaloids only in S. magnificum root extract and glycosides in extracts from both species. The glycosides were positive to Baljet, Xanthydrol and Keller-Kiliani tests for cardiac glycosides. S. magnificum and G. brevis chemical constituents were initially isolated with a sequential fractionation method starting with a highly non-polar solvent and gradually increasing to a more polar solvent. The fractions were pooled on the basis of TLC similarity profiles when viewed under the UV light at 254 and 366 nm and were found to have two and four major UV absorbing fractions for S. magnificum and G. brevis respectively. Radio-receptor binding tests were used to assess the anti-convulsant activities of the hydro-alcoholic crude extracts, the organic and aqueous fractions of the crude extracts, partially purified components and pure components in in vitro tests against some standard GABA[A] receptor antagonists, muscimol and isoguvacine respectively. The anti-convulsant activities resided in the aqueous fractions of the hydro-alcoholic crude extracts of both plants. The purely organic fractions of G. brevis demonstrated no activity while all the fractions of the aqueous component demonstrated some degree of activity. The anti-convulsant activity of S. magnificum was found only in one fraction-Fraction 1. This Fraction was further investigated and one of the components appear to be responsible for the activity. The structure of the active constituent was 5,7dihdroxy-2 methylbenzopyran-4-one, a noreugenin. A second bioactive compound, schumanniofoside, was identified from Fraction M[5.2] from S. magnificum.