Is the use o f Gunnera perpensa extracts in endometritis related to antibacterial activity?

L J McGaw, R Gehring, L Katsoulis, J N Eloff
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research 2005, 72 (2): 129-34
Rhizome extracts of Gunnera perpensa are used in traditional remedies in South Africa to treat endometritis both in humans and animals. An investigation was undertaken to determine whether this plant possesses antibacterial activity, which may explain its efficacy. Gunnera perpensa rhizome extracts were prepared serially with solvents of increasing polarity and tested for antibacterial activity. Test bacteria included the Gram-positive Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus and the Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A moderate to weak level of antibacterial activity in most of the extracts resulted, with the best minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 2.61 mg ml(-1) shown by the acetone extract against S. aureus. The extracts were also submitted to the brine shrimp assay to detect possible toxic or pharmacological effects. All the extracts were lethal to the brine shrimp larvae at a concentration of 5 mg ml(-1). The acetone extract was extremely toxic at 1 mg ml(-1), with some toxicity evident at 0.1 mg ml(-1). The remainder of the extracts generally displayed little activity at concentrations lower than 5 mg ml(-1). In summary, the results indicate that although the extracts demonstrated a level of pharmacological activity, the relatively weak antibacterial activity is unlikely to justify the use of G. perpensa rhizomes in the traditional treatment of endometritis. Rather, the slightly antibacterial nature of the rhizomes may contribute to an additive effect, along with their known uterotonic activity, to the overall efficacy of the preparation.

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