Ethnopharmacological study of plants from Pondoland used against diarrhoea
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea are common world wide, including in Bizana, South Africa where the majority of rural dwellers depend largely on water from unprotected sources. The people from Bizana use medicinal plants as their first line of health care to cure and prevent diarrhoea. Aim of the study: To record and document plants used for the treatment of diarrhoea in Bizana, to evaluate antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities of selected plant extracts as well as to perform genotoxicity testing of evaluated plants. Materials and methods: An ethnobotanical approach was used to select plants used for treating diarrhoea in Bizana for pharmacological assays using questionnaires. Nine plants were selected for bioassays based on their frequency index and the fact that they have never been evaluated against diarrhoea causing-microorganisms. The petroleum ether (PE), dichloromethane (DCM), 70% ethanol (EtOH), and water extracts were evaluated for antibacterial (Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus, Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Shigella flexneri) activity using the microdilution technique, their ability to inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Genotoxicity was evaluated using the Salmonella microsome assay. Results: This study revealed that 34 plant species belonging to 27 families are used for the treatment of diarrhoea in Bizana. The extracts showed good inhibitory activity with MIC values ranging from 0.39 to 12.5 mg/ml. The best activity was exhibited by DCM extracts of Rapanea melanophloeos, and EtOH extracts of Ficus craterostoma and Maesa lanceolata with MIC values of 0.098 mg/ml. The inhibitory activity against COX-1 enzyme was higher than COX-2, with 19 plant extracts for the former and 7 for the latter. All the tested plant extracts were not mutagenic at all concentrations tested against all tester strains of bacteria. Conclusion: In view of the fact that the plants were selected based on their ethnobotanical usage for treating diarrhoea, the activities reported here goes a long way in validating the plants for traditional use.