Anticonvulsant activity of Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch. & C. A. Mey. (Hypoxidaceae) corm ('African potato') aqueous extract in mice

John A O Ojewole
Phytotherapy Research: PTR 2008, 22 (1): 91-6
Extracts of Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch. & C. A. Mey. (Hypoxidaceae) corm (popularly known as 'African potato') are extensively used in South African traditional medicines for the treatment, management and/or control of an array of human ailments, including childhood convulsions and epilepsy. This study examined the anticonvulsant activity of the plant's corm aqueous extract (APE, 50-800 mg/kg i.p.) against pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-, picrotoxin (PCT)- and bicuculline (BCL)-induced seizures in mice. Phenobarbitone and diazepam were used as reference anticonvulsant drugs for comparison. Like the reference antiseizure drugs used, Hypoxis hemerocallidea corm aqueous extract (APE, 100-800 mg/kg i.p.) significantly delayed (p < 0.05-0.001) the onset of, and antagonized, pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced seizures. The plant's corm aqueous extract (APE, 100-800 mg/kg i.p.) also profoundly antagonized picrotoxin (PCT)-induced seizures, but only weakly antagonized bicuculline (BCL)-induced seizures. Although the data obtained in the present study do not provide conclusive evidence, it would appear that 'African potato' aqueous extract (APE) produces its antiseizure effect by enhancing GABAergic neurotransmission and/or action in the brain. The results of this laboratory animal study indicate that APE possesses anticonvulsant activity in the mammalian experimental model used and, therefore, tend to suggest that the herb may be used as a natural supplementary remedy in the management, control and/or treatment of childhood convulsions and epilepsy. In conclusion, the findings of this study indicate that Hypoxis hemerocallidea corm aqueous extract possesses anticonvulsant activity, and thus lend pharmacological credence to the suggested folkloric, anecdotal ethnomedical uses of the herb in the management of childhood convulsions and epilepsy in some rural communities of South Africa.

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