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Medicinal plants contain bioactive compounds capable of preventing and fighting cardiovascular related disease. These compounds must be screened and assayed before effective drugs are developed. Thus, the phytochemical constituents of aqueous and ethanolic leaves extracts of Costus afer and their effects on lipid profile of female albino wistar rats were determined. The results of the phytochemical analysis showed that, Costus afer aqueous leaves extract contained cardiac glycosides and terpenes while the ethanolic extract contained tannins, phlobatannins, steroids and alkaloids. Saponins, flavonoids, deoxy-sugars and anthraquinones tested positive for both extracts. Fifteen female albino albino rats were randomly distributed into 5 groups of 3 rats each. Group I (control) received water and normal rat feed(commercial rat mash:vital feed growers). Groups II, III, IV, and V were fed with water, normal rat feed and in addition, were administered Costus afer extracts for 14 days. 250mg/kg and 500 mg/kg aqueous Costus afer leaves extracts were administered to group II and III respectively. 250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg ethanolic extract were administered to groups IV and V respectively. Result obtained showed that the rats in all the groups had percentage weight gain which were: 49.50% for group I (control), 48.90%, 47.70%, 48.40% and 38.40% for groups II, III, IV and V. Treatment with Costus afer extracts showed a non significant (p<0.05) reduction in TC (Total cholesterol),TG (Triglyceride),LDL (low density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) and a non significant increase in the serum HDL (high density lipoprotein) of treated groups when compared to the control rats (Group I).There was a significant reduction in LDL at p<0.05 when group II and group V were compared and also when group IV and V were compared. Generally, the ethanolic extract compared at 250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg to the aqueous extract showed a greater reduction in the lipid parameters. The present study demonstrates that Costus afer extracts possess lipid lowering activity, thus suggesting its beneficial role in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
Keywords: Phytochemical, Lipid profile, Costus afer, Cardiovascular
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Plants have played a vital role in survival of man on earth. It is mostly used as sources of food, drugs or medication. Due to the recent advances in biotechnology, researchers and drug manufacturers have diverted their attention from drug of synthetic sources to medicinal plant. Some parts of the plants contain bioactive components, which have both preventive and curative effects in man and animals. Part of plants such as; leaves, bark, roots, stem, are often used individually or in combination with other plant parts to treat diseases.
Development in science and technology has also revolutionalized the use of plant extract in the treatment of various diseases (Kitabchi, 2001). These preparations are usually administered orally, topically or by introduction into the skin (incision). Today, a number of orthodox medicinal preparations have been shown to contain chemical constituents that are effective against various ailments (Farombi, 2003). Plants are known to contain pharmacologically active substance like steroids, glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloids, vitamins (Hamped et al., 1973). These substances are used by man directly or indirectly for foods, arrow poison, as part of religious or other rituals, or as even cosmetics drugs and as raw materials for many industries. Thus predominant use of plants for drug preparation by ethno- medicine practices raised the name medicinal plant.
Sofowora, (1993) defined medicinal plant as one which contain in one or more of its organs substances that can be used therapeutically or which are precursors for the synthesis of useful drugs. Medicinal plants continue to be a major source of drugs and natural products on the basis of their therapeutics (Lown, 1993) in virtually all cultures (Anwanill and Atta, 2006). Indigenous people of Africa employ at Least 20,000 plant species for medicines and related purposes (Melchias 2001).
These plants possess potent bioactive compounds capable of preventing and treating most oxidative related disease (Dahanoka et al., 2000; Farombi and Fakoya, 2005) and have often been used in folkloric medicine (Wang et al., 2007).
Costus afer is a tropical monocotyledonous herbaceous forage plant that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. It can be found in shady forest and river banks of Senegal South Africa, Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. (Edeoga and Okoli, 2000) It is commonly referred to as bush cane in English, Costus afer ker Gawl in scientific name, Mbritem in Ibibio name and forest herb as the habitat.
Its stem is widely used in ethnomedicine (Etukudo, 2003).Costus afer is a medicinal plant used traditionally for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, hepatic diseases, stomach ache, cough, measles, malaria, eye defects and could also serve as antidote for snake poisoning (Iwu, 1993; Omokhua, 1982). It is also important for socio-cultural purpose, including wrapping of indigenous food items, mat making and feed for ruminants as well as an ornament for ritual purposes (Iwu, 1982).Since ancient times, the medicinal properties and the improved quality and nutritional value of plants have been investigated.
Phytochemicals are chemical compounds that occurs naturally in plants. Some are responsible for colour and other organoleptic properties such as the deep purple of blue berries and the smell of garlic. Phytochemicals may have biological significance for example; carotenoids or flavonoids, but are not established as essential nutrients (Micronutrient Information Centre,2004). Studies have shown that Costus afer contains chemicals such as alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, phenols, cardiac glycosides, bioactive compounds such as, hexacedecanoic acid methylester, stearic acid methylester, linoleic acid methylester, as well as minerals and vitamin (ascorbic acid).
A steroidal saponin (diosgenin) is a very important raw material found in C. afer and is used as a precursor in the synthesis of a number of steroidal drugs including corticosteroids, sex hormones; oral contraceptive and anabolic agents (Aweke, 2007).
Diseases of the cardiovascular system are the most common cause of death. Life style changes have a significant impact on heart of people and modernization of societies appears to result in a dietary pattern that is high in saturated fats. Recent studies have shown that lipid associated disorders are not only attributed to the total serum cholesterol, but also to its distribution among different lipoproteins. The low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the major carriers of cholesterol towards tissues having atherogenic potential, while the high density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from peripheral tissues to the liver. HDL thus gives protection against many cardiac problems and obesity (Suzuki et al., 2005).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In today’s society, especially among the rural communities, Costus afer finds extensive use in folkloric medicine as a common remedy for various ailments. This study is designed to screen the phytochemical constituent of this plant’s aqueous and ethanolic leaves extracts to identify constituents of this plant that are responsible for its therapeutic effects.
The study is also designed to assess changes in the lipid profile of experimental rats (female albino wistar rats) following treatment with aqueous extract and ethanolic extract of Costus afer leaves to respective experiment groups
.1.2 JUSTIFICATION OF STUDY
Most people have no knowledge about the usefulness of Costus afer, especially those living in urban communities. Knowledge of the bioactive and chemical components of Costus afer will enable and encourage the use of this plant’s leaves extract for treatment of diseases.
According to past studies, much work have been carried out on the roots and stem of Costus afer to identify their phytochemicals and medicinal effects while little has been done on the leaves of this plant. This study is therefore significant and will prove the usefulness of the leaves of Costus afer.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aims and objectives of this research work is to: Determine the phytochemical constituents of the aqueous and ethanolic leaves extract of Costus afer and also determine the separate effects of these extracts on the lipid profile of female albino wistar rats.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to the following:
Collection of plant
Identification of plant
Extraction of leaves
Phytochemical screening or analysis of aqueous and ethanolic extracts
Collection and weighing of animals
Preparation of solution of the extracts
Administration of extracts to the animals
Sacrificing of the animals and preparation of the serum
Analysis of results
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