Efficacy of the aqueous root extract of phyllanthus muellerianus in alleviating anemia in rats
Lwanga, Gershom B.
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Phyllanthus muellerianus (P. muellerianus) is classified under the family Phyllanthaceae consisting of approximately 1,000 species which are widely distributed in Africa, Asia, America and Australia. It is a monoecious, glabrous, straggling shrub or small tree of up to 12 meters tall. It occurs in riverine forest and wooded grasslands on deep and well-drained soils. Different parts of P. muellerianus are used for treatment of a number of diseases in traditional medicine context. In some parts of Zambia, it is used to treat anemia, but its potential has not been scientifically established. Therefore, this study aimed at evaluating the effect of the aqueous root extract of P. muellerianus on the hematological parameters of male albino rats and to determine its phytochemical profile. Thirty-six male albino rats in six groups were used for this study. The groups comprised 100 mg/kg, 200 mg/kg, and 400 mg/kg plant extract, a group on ranferon (drug used to treat anemia), a normal (non-anemic) group and a control (anemic) group. Anemia, induced through repeated bleeding of the rats, was defined as hemoglobin (Hb) < 12 g/dL and the duration of the study was 22 days. The anti-anemic potential of the plant was determined by comparing its effect on the hematological parameters of rats on treatment to that of the control group. Blood samples were collected 3 times for hematological analysis; being at the baseline of the study, after inducing anemia and after treatment. The blood parameters studied include Hb, packed cell volume (PCV), film comment (anisocytosis, poikilocytosis and chromasia), mean cell hemoglobin concentration (MCHC), mean cell hemoglobin (MCH) and mean cell volume (MCV). The phytochemical profile of the root decoction was determined by standard procedures. The results were analysed using SPSS followed by dunnett’s test at a significance of P<0.05. After medication, rats on 400 mg/kg dosage showed the greatest increase in the mean values for Hb, PCV and RBC count of 23.1 %, 23.0 % and 22.2 % respectively, when compared to the anemic control group (P<0.05). The preliminary phytochemical screening of the root extract of P. muellerianus revealed positive results for alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, glycosides, steroids, triterpenoids and tannins. The aqueous root extract of P. muellerianus was efficient against anemia in experimental groups in a dose dependent manner and the 400 mg/kg dosage was useful. The phytochemical compositions especially alkaloids, flavonoids and saponins seem to be responsible for its hematopoietic properties. Thus, the root decoction of the plant is useful in alleviating anemia and the results lend credence to its use in traditional medicine in the management of anemia. Further studies are needed with this plant to isolate, characterize and elucidate the structure of the bioactive compound/s that is/are responsible for its medicinal value.
The University of Zambia