ANTI-HYPOXIC EFFECT OF THE METHANOLIC EXTRACT OF DENNETTIA TRIPETALA G. BAKER (ANNONACEAE) FRUITS IN MICE

1.1       INTRODUCTION

Dennettia tripetala G. Baker (Annonaceae) also known as pepper fruit tree is a well-known Nigerian spicy medicinal plant. It is found in the tropical rainforest region of Nigeria and sometimes in Savana areas (Okwu et al., 2012). It is locally called “Nkarika” by the Efiks of Calabar. The young leaves and fruits have instinctive spicy taste (Achinewhu et al., 2013). The mature fruits constitute the main edible portions. Some communities in parts of Southern Nigeria also utilized the leaves and roots, in addition to the fruits for medicinal purpose (Iwu, 2015).

Dennettia triptala is used as masticators, which when chewed produces unique peppery effect (Keay, 2015). The peppery spicy taste of mature D. tripetala fruits usually serves as a mild stimulant to the consumer. The fruits are sometimes taken with kolanut, garden egg and palm wine in parts of Nigeria, especially in Southern part of Nigeria where it serves also for cultural entertainment of guests, particularly during coronation, new yam festivals, weddings and marriage festivals (Enwere, 2015; Keay, 2015). Dennettia tripetala fruit has also been reported to be used as spice in flavouring food, and as seasoning which are added to prepared food such as meat, sausages, soups and vegetable (Lebouef and Caver, 1972). The peppery fruits of Dennettia tripetala are applied to the food meant for pregnant women and are important in the diets of postpartum women, during which time it is claimed that spices and herbs aid uterine contraction (Okwu and Morah, 2014; Achinewhu et al, 2013). Okwu et al (2012) also reported that D. tripetala fruits contain important nutritive substances such as vitamins, minerals and fibre.

 

Despite the extensive use of the fruit, much work has not been done to study some of the toxicological implications on other related systems. Motivated by this, the aim of the present study was to assess the effect(s) the methanolic extract of D. tripetala fruits would have on some haematological parameters of the mice.

Medicinal plants or herbs have been identified and used from prehistoric times. Plants make many chemical compounds for biological functions, including defence against insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. Over 12,000 active compounds are known to science. These chemicals work on the human body in exactly the same way as pharmaceutical drugs, so herbal medicines can be beneficial and have harmful side effects just like conventional drugs. However, since a single plant may contain many substances, the effects of taking a plant as medicine can be complex (Tapsell et al., 2013).

The earliest historical records of herbs are found from the Sumerian civilization, where hundreds of medicinal plants including opium are listed on clay tablets. The Ebers Papyrus from ancient Egypt describes over 850 plant medicines, while Dioscorides documented over 1000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in De materia medica, forming the basis of pharmacopoeias for some 1500 years. Drug research makes use of ethnobotany to search for pharmacologically active substances in nature, and has in this way discovered hundreds of useful compounds. These include the common drugs aspirin, digoxin, quinine, and opium. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most are in four major biochemical classes, the alkaloids, glycosides, polyphenols, and terpenes. Medicinal plants are widely used to treat disease in non-industrialized societies, not least because they are far cheaper than modern medicines (Tapsell et al., 2013).

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