The phytochemicals used by plants to protect themselves against predators in Moringa oleifera roots were qualitatively identified in the aqueous and ethanol extracts. Its acute toxicity in 24 h was evaluated in Swiss albino mice. M. oleifera, a native plant of the sub-Himalayan tracts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is used in folk medicine. It is claimed to have nutritional, medicinal, socio-economic and industrial values. Many individuals and families consume the roots for their medicinal properties. Despite wide use the roots, the phytochemicals and toxicity profile are not well documented. This study set out to determine the phytochemicals and acute toxicity of M. oleifera roots in mice. The roots were harvested during dry season and air dried. Serial extractions using ether, ethanol and water were done. The harvested phytochemicals were qualitatively identified using standard chemicals procedures. The phytochemicals identified were: Gallic tannins, catechol tennins, steroids and triterponoids, saponins, anthraquinones, alkaloids, and reducing sugars. Acute toxicity was determined by giving a single oral dose to Swiss albino mice and observed for 24 h. The LD50 was calculated using the probit tables. The LD50 of ethanol extract was 17.8 g/kg and that of aqueous extract was 15.9 g/kg. In conclusion, M. oleifera roots contain protective phytochemicals and are relatively non-toxic when given in a single dose.
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