In vitro antimicrobial activity and determination of essential metal and ash value contents of Trichodesma zeylanicum

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    * Corresponding author: Sheila M.Maregesi E-mail address:

    Available online Print ISSN: 2278 2648

    Online ISSN: 2278 - 2656 IJRPP | Volume 2 | Issue 3 | 2013 Research article

    In vitro antimicrobial activity and determination of essential metal and ash

    value contents of Trichodesma zeylanicum

    *Sheila M.Maregesi, Nyamwisenda T.Nyamwisenda, Denis Mwangomo, Abdul Kidukuli

    Pharmacognosy Department - School of Pharmacy. Muhimbili University College of Health

    and Allied Sciences. P.O. Box 65013 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.


    Infectious diseases are responsible for morbidity and mortality of millions each year especially in developing

    countries. Microbial drug resistance is a serious problem for current effective antimicrobial agents necessitating

    the search for new antimicrobial agents from natural sources including plants. Trichodesma zeylanicum plants is

    used for medicinal and nutrition purposes. The objective of this study was to confirm the antimicrobial activity

    of T.zeylanicum leaves against selected pathogenic microbes, determine essential metal and ash content and

    detect the presence of nitrate and calcium oxalate. The crude aqueous methanolic extract was prepared from the

    dry powdered leaves of T.zeylanicum by maceration at room temperature. Eight bacterial and five fungi were

    used in the antimicrobial testing employing broth micro dilution method. Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer

    was used for metal analysis. The crude extract of T.zeylanicum leaves exhibited activity against S.aureus,

    P.aeruginosa, S typhi and the dermatophyte T.mentagrophyte with MIC value of 1.25 mg/ml. The content of

    four essential minerals obtained are; iron (58.53 mg/kg), manganese (47.51 mg/kg), magnesium (3.43 mg/kg),

    copper (3.28 mg/kg) and ash value of 23.46%. Microscopic and qualitative chemical analysis studies revealed

    the presence abundant calcium oxalate crystal and nitrate respectively. Both antifungal and antibacterial activity

    support the traditional use of T.zeylanicum leaves against scalp fungal infection which is normally accompanied

    with secondary infection due to bacteria. Presence of essential elements justifies their nutritional potential but

    safety issues need to be addressed. This is the first study on the plant T.zeylanicum with regard to antifungal

    activity and metal analysis. Detail study is recommended to isolate bioactive principles and establishment of the

    complete nutritional and mineral profiles and safety.

    KEYWORDS: Antimicrobial activity, Trichodesma zeylanicum, Metal content, Ash value, Nitrate, Calcium



    Trichodesma zeylanicum (Burm.F.) R.Br. belongs

    to the family Boraginaceae. It has various common

    names like Camel bush, cattle bush, northern blue

    bell (English), Herbe cipaye, bourrache sauvage,

    herbe tourterelle (French). In Tanzania it bears

    several names depending to the local languages

    such as, Msasa mlanda or Mwagewage (Swahili)[1]


    Nyabhugimbi (Jita)[2]

    . It is a short-lived perennial,

    less often annual herb, up to (1.52) m tall, much-

    branched. Leaves are simple with lower leaves

    opposite, upper leaves alternate; stipules absent;

    petiole up to 1 cm long; blade oblong to oblong-

    lanceolate, up to 16 cm5 cm, base rounded to

    slightly cordate narrowing towards apex. The plant

    is widespread in the tropics and subtropics of the

    Old World and in Australia. It occurs throughout

    tropical Africa[3]

    . (See photograph in the Figure:1)

    International Journal of Research in Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics

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    Figure 1: Trichodesma zeylanicum plant

    The plant has various medicinal uses; green leaves

    and roots of Trichodesma zeylanicum are chewed

    and applied as a poultice to wounds, boils and

    snakebites. Roots are chewed or pounded and

    soaked in water, and the infusion is used as a

    remedy for tuberculosis, stomach-ache, poisoning

    and rheumatism[1]

    . In Nigeria, leaves are used to

    treat fever, scorpion bite and as analgesic[4]


    Decoction of the leaves is credited with, demulcent

    and diuretic properties and the flowers decoction

    is sudorific and diuretic. Powdered root is analgesic

    when applied to wounds and skin infections[5,6]


    Infusion of leaves and roots used for intestinal

    worms, coughing, chest complaints, itching and

    throat pains. Root scrapings used for wound

    dressing and against bacteria [3,7]

    . In the Mascarene

    Islands a decoction of the plant is used against

    fever, dysentery and as a diuretic. In South Africa,

    Zimbabwe and Comoros powder of dried leaves is

    applied to infected wounds for healing and as

    analgesic. The leaves are also used to prevent

    stillbirth while ash of burnt plants enters in

    prescriptions for cough and scabies[3]

    . The seed oil

    is used for its emollient properties in Tanzania,

    India and Pakistan. The young leaves and shoots

    are cooked and eaten as a vegetable in Tanzania,

    Malawi and Madagascar. With the exception of

    camels, other livestock avoid eating Trichodesma


    . Root decoction is drunk and

    douched for treatment of vaginitis. Leaf infusion is

    used as eye drop for treatment of cataract [2]

    . T.

    zeylanicum leaves in combination with the rhizome

    of Glycyrrhiza glabra, stem of Canna indica and

    stem bark of Punica granatum are mixed and

    ground into a paste is applied topically on affected

    places for wound healing in India[9]

    . Compounds

    isolated from T.zeylanicum seed are ricinoleic acid

    and cyclopropene acid, the pyrrolizidine alkaloids,

    with low toxic alkaloid supinine as the principal


    . Pyrrolizidine alkaloids can cause

    fatal liver conditions and several Trichodesma

    species had been implicated for livestock poisoning

    and not recommended for medicinal use[3,12]


    Plants are the main source of minerals to the animal

    kingdom. Human body needs many minerals

    collectively called essential metals in quantities of

    only a few milligrams or micrograms per day in

    certain balance of levels in every organ, tissue and

    cell of the human body for maintaining a healthy

    existence. Major minerals (macronutrients) are

    calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium,

    chlorine, and magnesium. Trace minerals

    (micronutrients) are iron, zinc, iodine, selenium,

    copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium and

    molybdenum. Other trace nutrients known to be

    essential in tiny amounts include nickel, silicon,

    vanadium and cobalt[13]

    . Iron is vital for almost

    every living organisms involved in a wide variety

    of metabolic processes including oxygen transport,

    DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, electron

    transport etc. It amounts to about 35 and 45 mg/kg

    of body weight of women and men respectively. It

    an essential component of haemoglobin found in

    red blood cells that carry oxygen in the body

    required for energy metabolism, myoglobin that

    carries oxygen to the muscles, many enzyme

    reactions and the cytochromes. There are several

    disorders of iron metabolism encompassing a

    broad spectrum of diseases with diverse clinical

    manifestation ranging from iron deficiency i.e.

    anemia to iron overload causing constipation,

    diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal

    irritation as well as neurodegenerative diseases [14]

    Copper is essential to normal red blood

    cell formation and connective tissue formation.

    Acts as a catalyst to store and release iron for

    hemoglobin formation and contributes to central

    nervous system functioning. The deficiency in

    copper can cause many hematological

    manifestations, such as anemia, myelodyspla

    sia, leucopenia and neutropenia. Another common

    symptom of copper deficiency is peripheral

    neuropathy which is numbness or tingling that can

    start in the extremities and can sometimes progress

    radially inward towards the torso[15]


    Manganese is an essential trace nutrient in all

    forms of life. It is a key component of enzyme

    systems, including oxygen-handling enzymes [16]


    Manganese deficiency causes skeletal deformation

    in animals and inhibits the production

    of collagen in wound [17] among other medical

    problems. Magnesium is found in bones, needed

    for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve

    transmission and immune system. It activates over

    100 enzymes and helps to maintain the integrity of

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    cell membranes and stabilizes the cell electrically

    as well as proper heart functioning [18]. Symptoms

    of magnesium deficiency include: hyper-

    excitability, dizziness, muscle cramps, muscle

    weakness and fatigue. Severe magnesium

    deficiency can cause hypocalcemia