Behavioral properties of Balanites aegyptiaca in rodents

J Ya'u, U N Abdulmalik, A H Yaro, B A Chindo, J A Anuka, I M Hussaini
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2011 June 1, 135 (3): 725-9

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Balanites aegyptiaca is a native plant from the dry tropical areas of Africa and Arabia. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat psychoses, epilepsy, rheumatism and for the management of cough, liver and spleen conditions for many years. The plant is also used as antihelmintic and molluscicide.

AIM OF THE STUDY: The present studies aimed at investigating the behavioral properties of ethanol extract of the root of this medicinal plant, which is already in common applications in the Nigerian traditional medicine.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The intraperitoneal and oral mean lethal dose (LD(50)) of the extract was determined using the Lorke's method. The preliminary phytochemical screening of the extract was carried out to identify the secondary metabolites in the extract. Furthermore, the behavioral properties of the extract were evaluated using diazepam-induced sleep, open field test, staircase test and beam walking assay all in mice.

RESULTS: The extract significantly (p<0.001) prolonged the duration diazepam (20mg/kg i.p)-induced sleep in mice dose dependently. However, the extract showed no significant effect on the onset of diazepam-induced sleep. In the open field test, the extract (150 and 300 mg/kg) and diazepam (0.05 mg/kg) produced a significant (p<0.05, p<0.005 and p<0.001) decrease in the number of square crossings. There was no significant effect on the number of centre square crossing following the administration of the extract. The extract (75 and 150 mg/kg) and diazepam (0.05 mg/kg) produced a significant (p<0.05) decrease in the number of rearing suggestive of sedation. In the staircase experiment there was a decrease in the number of upward step climbing as well as number of rearing suggesting anxiolytic and sedative properties of the extract. In the beam walking assay the extract did not produce any significant increase in the time taken to complete task as compared to diazepam 1mg/kg which was significant at p<0.05. Furthermore, 30 mg/kg of the extract and diazepam 1mg/kg showed significant (p<0.05) mean number of foot slips, suggesting that the central nervous system depressant activity might not necessarily due to peripheral neuromuscular blockade.

CONCLUSION: The result indicates that the extract of Balanites aegyptiaca possess biologically active compound(s) that have anxiolytic and sedative properties, which support the ethnomedicinal use of the plant as antipsychotic and antiepileptic agents.

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