Brine shrimp toxicity and antimalarial activity of some plants traditionally used in treatment of malaria in Msambweni district of Kenya.
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ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: In Kenya, most people especially in rural areas use traditional medicine and medicinal plants to treat many diseases including malaria. Malaria is of national concern in Kenya, in view of development of resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum to drugs especially chloroquine, which had been effective and affordable. There is need for alternative and affordable therapy. Many antimalarial drugs have been derived from medicinal plants and this is evident from the reported antiplasmodial activity. AIM OF THE STUDY: The present study reports on the in vivo antimalarial activity and brine shrimp lethality of five medicinal plants traditionally used to treat malaria in Msambweni district, Kenya. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of five aqueous crude extracts from different plant parts used in traditional medicine for the treatment of malaria were evaluated for their in vivo antimalarial activity using Plasmodium berghei infected Swiss mice and for their acute toxicity using Brine shrimp lethality test. RESULTS: The screened crude plant extracts suppressed parasitaemia as follows: Azadirachta indica (L) Burm. (Meliaceae), 3.1%; Dichrostachys cinerea (L) Wight et Arn (Mimosaceae), 6.3%; Tamarindus indica L. (Caesalpiniaceae), 25.1%; Acacia seyal Del. (Mimosaceae) 27.8% and Grewia trichocarpa Hochst ex A.Rich (Tiliaceae) 35.8%. In terms of toxicity, A.indica root bark extract had an LC50 of 285.8µg/ml and was considered moderately toxic. T.indica stem bark extract and G.trichocarpa root extract had an LC50 of 516.4 and 545.8µg/ml respectively and were considered to be weakly toxic while A.seyal and D.cinerea root extracts had a LC50>1000µg/ml and were therefore considered to be non toxic. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that the aqueous extracts of the tested plants when used alone as monotherapy had antimalarial activity which was significantly different from that of chloroquine (P≤0.05). The results also suggest that the anecdotal efficacy of the above plants reported by the study community is related to synergism of phytoconstituents since the assayed plant parts are used in combination with others to treat malaria. It is also evident that none of the screened plant extracts is toxic to the arthropod invertebrate, Artemia salina L. (Artemiidae) larvae, justifying the continued use of the plant parts to treat malaria. A.seyal, G.trichocarpa and T.indica have not been reported before for in vivo antimalarial activity and brine shrimp lethality.