JOURNAL ARTICLE

Evaluation of the analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties of Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst. stem-bark aqueous extract in mice and rats

John A O Ojewole
Phytotherapy Research: PTR 2004, 18 (8): 601-8
15476310
In order to appraise some of the ethnomedical uses of Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst., subspecies caffra (Sond.) Kokwaro [family: Anacardiaceae], the present study was undertaken to investigate the analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties of the plant's stem-bark aqueous extract in experimental models of pain, inflammation and diabetes mellitus. The analgesic effect of Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract was evaluated in mice, while its anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects were investigated in rats. Diclofenac (DIC, 100 mg/kg p. o.) and chlorpropamide (250 mg/kg p. o.) were used respectively as reference analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic agents for comparison. Like diclofenac (DIC, 100 mg/kg p. o.), Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract (SBE, 100-800 mg/kg p. o.) produced dose-dependent, significant protection (p < 0.05-0.001) against electrical heat-induced pain. The plant extract (SBE, 25-800 mg/kg p. o.) also produced dose- and time-related, sustained and significant reductions (p < 0.05-0.001) in the fresh egg albumin-induced acute inflammation of the rat hind paw oedema. However, the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of the plant's extract were found to be approximately 10-15 times less than that of diclofenac. In one set of experiments involving hypoglycaemic/antidiabetic evaluation of the plant's extract, graded doses of Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract (SBE, 25-800 mg/kg p. o.) were separately administered to groups of fasted normal and fasted diabetic rats. In another set of experiments, a single dose of the plant's aqueous extract (SBE, 800 mg/kg p. o.) was used. The hypoglycaemic effect of this single dose of Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract (SBE, 800 mg/kg p. o.) was compared with that of chlorpropamide (250 mg/kg p. o.) in both fasted normal and fasted streptozotocin (STZ)-treated diabetic rats. Following acute treatment, relatively moderate to high doses of Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract (SBE, 25-800 mg/kg p. o.) produced dose-dependent, significant reductions (p < 0.05-0.001) in the blood glucose concentrations of both fasted normal and fasted diabetic rats. Chlorpropamide (250 mg/kg p. o.) also produced significant reductions (p < 0.05-0.001) in the blood glucose concentrations of the fasted normal and fasted diabetic rats. Administration of the single dose of Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract (SBE, 800 mg/kg p. o.) significantly reduced (p < 0.01-0.001) the blood glucose levels of both fasted normal (normoglycaemic) and fasted STZ-treated, diabetic rats. The results of this experimental animal study indicate that Sclerocarya birrea stem-bark aqueous extract possesses analgesic, anti-inflammatory and hypoglycaemic properties. These experimental findings lend pharmacological support to the suggested folkloric uses of the plant's stem-bark in the management and/or control of pain, inflammatory conditions, and adult-onset, type-2 diabetes mellitus in some communities of South Africa.

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