L The berries are used in India in the treatment of fever, diarrhoea and eye diseases (Chopra et al., 1956). In Nigeria a decoction of the leaves is said to be diuretic and laxative and that of the young shoots is given in the treatment of psoriasis and skin disease (Dalziel, 1937).

C In the fruit, solanine has been found (especially in the green fruit). Hydrolysis of solanine produces glucose, rhamnose and solanidine. In addition, heterosides derived from spirosolane (the genin being solasodine) are present: solasonine, solamargine and solanigrine (Henry, 1949; Paris and Moyse, 1971).

P In the French Pharmaceutical Codex 1937, S. nigrum is used in 'Huile de Jusquiame'

and a poultice of the leaves is used in France as an emollient and antineuralgic and has a slightly narcotic action (Paris and Moyse, 1971, p. 190). Solanine is reported to be a cytostatic and a Cholinesterase inhibitor in vitro (Manske and Holmes, 1950-71, Vol. 10, p. 116). It is also considered to be analgesic for migraine and gastralgia, and a nervous sedative for paralysis agitans and for chronic pruritus in certain skin diseases (Denoel, 1958, p. 899). It is also said to have antimitotic action (Danneberg and Schmäl (1953) quoted in Paris and Moyse (1971). Solasodine is antagonistic to tachycardia provoked by adrenaline (Sollmann, 1957, p. 669).

Withania somnifera L. Dunal syn. (Physalis somnifera L.) SOLANACEAE

L In West African local medicine, both roots and leaves are used internally, and the freshly pounded leaves also externally, against fever, chills, rheumatism, colics, etc. The juice of the plant is said to be diuretic and emmenagogic. In local medicine in East Africa, the root is considered to have narcotic and antiepileptic actions (Pichi Sermoli, 1955). In India, the bruised leaves and ground root are used as a local application to painful swellings, carbuncles and ulcers as the root and leaves are considered to be sedative and the root has been included in the Indian Pharmacopoeia and Codex for its narcotic and sedative properties (Chopra et al., 1956; Oliver, 1960).

C The roots contain choline, tropanol, pseudotropanol, 3-tigloyl-hydroxy-tropane, cuscohygrine, (±)-isopelletierine, anaferine and anhygrine. In the leaves, with-aferine (5,6-epoxy-4/ß,22,27-trihydroxy-l-oxo-5ß-ergosta-2,24-dien-26-oic acid 8-lactone) has been detected (Khanna et al., 1963; Schwarting et al., 1963; El Olemy and Schwarting, 1965; Lavie et al., 1965). Although the total alkaloid content appears high, the alkaloids resinify during extraction and the yield in pure substances is low. Schröter et al. (1966) isolated withasomnin (4-pheny 1-1,5-trimethylenepyrazole) from the roots.

P Withasomnine showed distinct sedation in mice and induced sleep and narcosis in higher doses. The acetone-soluble fraction of the leaves, when given perorally, had a mild depressant effect (tranquillizer-sedative type in dogs, albino rats and mice). It exacerbated the convulsions produced by metrazol but protected against supramaximal electroshock seizures in rats. It had no analgesic activity in rats and produced hypothermia in mice. There was potentiation of barbiturate-, ethanol- and urethane-induced hypnosis in mice which could not be antagonized by lysergic acid diethylamide and dibenzylene. The two other fractions had no significant neuropharmacological actions and were devoid of irritant effect on mucous membranes (Prasad and Malhotra, 1968). The effect of the total extract on the smooth muscles, cardiovascular system, respiration and skeletal muscles had been studied earlier by Malhotra et al. (1960a, b). Other authors obtained no therapeutically useful sedation in animal tests. Watery, 50% methanol or absolute methanol extracts with and without pre-extraction in amounts up to 1 g/kg neither reduced the central activity nor affected rats in motility tests. Even with doses of 5 g/kg the different Withania extracts produced no sedation (Fontaine and Erdös, 1976). Withaferine has been reported to have antitumour action and to delay the onset of arthritis in rats.

It is also antibiotic towards Gram-positive organisms and certain fungi (Shohat, 1967).

Boerhavia diffusa L. syn. (partlyB. repens var. diffusa(L.)Hook.,partlyB. adscen-dens Willd.) (Fig. 3.4) NYCTAGYNACEAE

Hog weed, Punarnava

L The plant is used in local medicine to treat convulsions and as a mild laxative and febrifuge. The roots and leaves are considered to have an expectorant action, to be emetic in large doses, and are of use in the treatment of asthma. The thick roots, softened by boiling, are applied as a poultice to draw abscesses and to encourage the extraction of guinea worms (Dalziel, 1937).

C An alkaloid, punarnavine (0.04% in the roots), has been extracted, as well as boerhavic acid, reducing sugars, potassium nitrate and tannins including phlobaphens (Oliver, I960; Singh and Udupa, 1972a). Extracts from B. diffusa and B. repens are official in the Indian Pharmacopoeia as a diuretic (Chopra et al., 1956). In addition a nucleoside, hypoxanthine-9-L-arabinofuranoside, has been isolated from the roots of B. diffusa (Ojewole and Adesina, 1983).

P Intravenous injection of punarnavine produces a distinct and lasting rise in the blood pressure of cats, with marked diuresis (Chopra et al., 1956). Clinically, doses of 4—16 g of a liquid extract prepared from the fresh plant produced diuresis in 33 patients with oedema and ascites and seemed extremely active particularly in cases of cirrhosis of the liver and chronic peritonitis (Chopra and Ghosh, 1923). Mudgal (1975) confirmed the diuretic effect and also reported anti-inflammatory activity.

Fig. 3.4. Boerhavia diffusa L.

Fig. 3.4. Boerhavia diffusa L.

An active anticonvulsant principle was localized in the roots of B. diffusa (Adesina, 1979). Test solutions were prepared by methanol extraction of the roots, dissolution in water of the residue after evaporation, extraction with petroleum ether and lyophylization of the water-soluble portion. Intraperitoneal injections of this extract have shown anticonvulsant as well as analgesic properties on male albino mice with leptazol-induced convulsions. While the control animals died from convulsions within 2-3 min, a 1 g/kg dose of the extract gave 20% protection, and with 1.5-2.0 g/kg doses all animals were protected for over 10 min, 60% eventually dying (Adesina, 1979).

Further tests with the nucleoside isolated from the roots showed that, like inosine and adenosine, it relaxes the isolated coronary artery of the goat contracted with potassium chloride. The action, like that of inosine, is thought to be 'a direct vasodilator effect, not involving vascular adenosine receptors' (Ojewole and Adesina, 1983). (Also see Singh and Udupa, 1972b, c.)

Tetrapleura tetraptera (Schum. & Thonn.) Taub. syn. (Adenanthera tetraptera Schum. & Thonn., T. thonningi Benth.) (Fig. 3.5) MIMOSACEAE

L An infusion of the fruit is used in Nigeria as a tonic and stimulant. The bark is used in Ghana as a purgative and in Guinea and Senegal as an emetic. Elewuda mentions that the fruits, with other parts of the plant, are used as an anticonvulsant drink (Adesina and Sofowora, 1979).

Fig. 3.5. Tetrapleura tetraptera (Schum. & Thonn.) Taub.

Fig. 3.5. Tetrapleura tetraptera (Schum. & Thonn.) Taub.

m txW

C Bouquet (1972) reported the presence of saponosides and perhaps of tannins in the rootbark of the plant collected in the Congo, but found no flavonoids, quinones, cyanogenetic glycosides or steroids. Later Adesina and Sofowora (1979) isolated oleanic acid triglycoside and Ojewole (1983b) obtained scopoletin, a coumarin, from the fruit.

P Alcoholic as well as aqueous extracts of the fruits have been found to exhibit marked tranquillizing properties on male albino mice and to cause lowering of their body temperature. Oral doses of an alcoholic extract of the fruit sedated mice within 30-40 min after intraperitoneal injection of a convulsant drug (leptazol) and over 60% of the animals were protected (Adesina and Sofowora, 1979).

Anti-bronchoconstrictive and anti-arrhythmic effects of scopoletin were recently demonstrated in vivo and in vitro (Ojewole, 1983b). Scopoletin and tetramethyl-pyrazine (see Jatropha podagrica) were found to protect guinea pigs from, and to suppress ouabain-induced arrhythmias, increasing the functional refractory period of the myocardium in the same way as quinidine. They also relax acetylcholine-, 5-hydroxy tryptamine- and histamine-induced contractions of the guinea pig isolated tracheal muscle (Ojewole, 1983a).

The inhibitory effects of scopoletin on electrically induced contractions, relaxations and twitches of cholinergically and adrenergically innervated muscle preparations are thought to be linked with the non-specific spasmolytic action of the coumarin, and also probably to be exerted via its local anaesthetic (membrane stabilizing) activity (Ojewole, 1983b, c).

Securidaca longepedunculata Fres. (Fig. 3.6) POLYGALACEAE

Violet tree, wild wisteria, Senega root tree

L Pieces of root covered with bark are sold in Hausa markets (Northern Nigeria) as a charm and a medicine. In small doses this is a drastic purgative and the powdered root causes violent sneezing. The root is used as a taenifuge and anthelmintic in French Guinea and Senegal. The seeds are rich in oil and are given medicinally for febrile and rheumatic conditions (Dalziel, 1937; Oliver, 1960; Kerharo, 1970).

C The roots have been shown to contain saponin (0.4%) and 4% methyl salicylate. A systematic examination of roots gathered in Angola indicated 27% lipids and 0.36% protides, tannins and steroids. Hydrolysis of the saponoside produced a steroid genin and glucose. Methyl salicylate was present as a monotropitoside similar to gaultherin; the sugars were glucose and xylose (Kerharo, 1970).

P The saponin was reported to have a certain ichthyotoxicity (Prista and Correia Alves, 1958). The LD50 lies around a concentration of 0.018% for small sweet water fish remaining for 24 h in the solution, and all fish died after 24 h in a concentration of 0.024% (Fraga de Azevedo and Medeiros, 1963). Securidaca is one of 24 plants used in treating convulsions in children. Oral administration of a decoction of the root produces a sedative effect and several hours of sleep. The active factor appears to be oleanolic acid glycoside; this is also found in Tetrapleura tetraptera which has the same sedative properties (Adesina and Sofowora, 1979; Sofowora, 1980).

Anthocleista procera Lepr. ex Bureau syn. (A. frezoulsii Chev., A. nobilis Lepr.)

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