Phytosynergy in some Hypoxis species and pharmacological properties of a Hypoxis-based phytopharmaceutical formula

A R Ndhlala, G I Stafford, J Van Staden
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2013 November 25, 150 (2): 492-500

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGY RELEVANCE: Hypoxis species are used extensively in traditional medicine in southern Africa for several ailments including tuberculosis, chest infections, and nervous and urinary disorders. Several other claims have been made for extracts emanating from Hypoxis species and have led to the production of several commercial products used as immunostimulants mostly for people living with HIV/AIDS and cancer. This study was aimed at investigating the biological activity of four Hypoxis species and a commercial herbal product, 'African potato extract' (APE).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Antibacterial, antifungal, cyclooxygenase (COX) and acetylcholineasterase (AChE) inhibitory activities of four Hypoxis species (H. acuminata, H. colchicifolia, H. hemerocallidea and H. rigidula) and a popular Hypoxis-based herbal preparation, APE were tested. The phytoconstituents of the mixture were also profiled using TLC methods. Several combinations of the Hypoxis species were prepared and their synergism, additive, autonomic and antagonism effects investigated. As a quality control measure, batch to batch comparison in the phytoconstituents and biological activity of APE was carried out.

RESULTS: The results confirmed H. colchicifolia and H. hemerocallidea as the phytoconstituents of APE. The extracts showed a broad spectrum of activities against the bacterial and fungal strains used. Of particular interest were the activities exhibited by the APE and combinations of H. colchicifolia and H. hemerocallidea. The APE mixture exhibited good antibacterial activity (MIC values of 0.78mg/ml each) in all the tested batches against the bacterial strains used. The water extracts of all four Hypoxis species, three batches of APE and the combination (water extracts) of H. colchicifolia and H. hemerocallidea exhibited high COX-1 and moderate COX-2 inhibitory activity except for H. acuminata which showed low activity against COX-2. All the extract, batches of APE and combinations showed low to moderate AChE inhibitory activity. These results provided some evidence of phytosynergy in some extracts of H. hemerocallidea and H. colchicifolia except for a few extracts which act as additive, autonomous and antagonistic when used to inhibit some bacterial and fungal strains. However, this was not the case for COX and AChE inhibition, as only acetone extracts acted in a synergistic way to reduce the activity of the enzyme.

CONCLUSION: Even though the results give an indication of a positive interaction between some extracts of H. hemerocallidea and H. colchicifolia, the study was carried out on 1:1 v/v combinations only. It is therefore important to carry out isobologram studies, which considers more than one ratio of the combinations.

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