Perceptions of the Traditional Medical Practitioners of North-Western Nigeria on Malaria Treatment and the Potential Antiplasmodial Properties of Plumeria rubra Stem-Bark

Aims: The apparent lack of scientific proof of efficacies claimed by the traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) (locally known as Magori/’Yan-ganye, in Hausa language) of North-Western Nigeria with respect to malaria and the many drawbacks of the current antimalarial drugs stimulated this study. The study was carried out to evaluate the perception of the TMPs on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of malaria and evaluate the potential antiplasmodial properties (in-vivo in Albino mice) of Plumeria rubra Linn. (Apocynaceae) commonly used in traditional treatment of malaria in North-Western Nigeria. The study was aimed at providing scientific basis for use of traditional health knowledge and use of medicinal plant resources in the treatment of malaria.

Study Design: Using an ethno-medical survey, information was obtained from the TMPs relating to identification of plants, their medicinal uses and the mode of preparations of remedies on traditional treatment of malaria.

Place and Duration of Study: The ethno-medicinal survey was carried out at the premises of TMPs from December, 2005 to May, 2008. The laboratory work was carried out at the Department of Pharmacognosy and Drug Development, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria from July, 2008 to February, 2010.

Methodology: An ethno-medical survey was conducted in twenty Local Government Areas across four States (Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa) in North-Western Nigeria. The communities covered in the survey were selected on the basis of their reputation for being homes to a number of TMPs. The plant used was selected on the basis of ethno-medical information obtained from the TMPs using an exclusion criterion based on claim for activity score. The preferable solvent used by the local people was found to be mostly water and/or alcohol, the plant material was therefore extracted by maceration technique using 70% v/v aqueous-ethanol. The metabolites profiles of the extracts were determined using thin layer chromatographic (TLC) technique on commercially prepared silica gel pre-coated flexible plates.

Results: The TMPs were able to define, diagnose and presumably treat malaria using the indigenous medicines. Median lethal dose (LD50) was established to be greater than 5 gkg-1 for the aqueous extract and 3.8 gkg-1 for the chloroform extract orally in mice respectively. Antiplasmodial evaluation of the two extracts revealed that the two extracts exhibited dose-dependent in-vivo suppressive, curative and prophylactive properties on the development of parasitaemia in Albino mice using a chloroquine sensitive strain of Plasmodium berghei (NK-65). TLC profile fingerprints of the aqueous extract revealed three distinct spots with Rf values of 0.23, 0.39 and 0.75 whereas that the chloroform extract revealed three distinct spots with Rf values of 0.33, 0.42 and 0.55 when it was developed in ethyl acetate: ethanol: water: ammonia (65:25:9:1).

Conclusion: These results represented the first conducted evaluation of the perception of TMPs of North-Western Nigeria on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of malaria, antiplasmodial and thin layer chromatographic profile fingerprinting studies on Plumeria rubra bark found in North-Western Nigeria. The findings are therefore expected to provide the necessary scientific basis for rational use of traditional health knowledge and use of medicinal plant resources of North-Western Nigeria in the treatment of malaria.

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