Muhammad Shoaib Akhtar ( Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. )
Sauleha Riffat ( Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. )
Antinematodal efficacy of Saussurea lappa roots (Qust-e-Shereen) and anticestodal effect of Nigella sativa seeds (Kalonji) was studied in children infected naturally with the respective worms. The activities were judged on the basis of percentage reductions in the faecal eggs per gram (EPG) counts. The 50 mg/kg single dose of S. lappa and equivalent amount of its methanolic extract produced on days 7 and 15 percentage EPG reduction similar to 10 mg/kg of pyrantel pamoate. Similarly, single oral administration of 40 mg/kg of N. sativa, equivalent amount of its ethanolic extract and 50 mg/kg of niclosamide reduced the percentage of EPG counts not significantly different from each other on the days 7 and 15. Therefore, it is conceivable that these indigenous medicinal plants contain active principles effective against nematodes and cestodes. The crude drugs did not produce any adverse side effects in the doses tested (JPMA 41 :185, 1991).
Rational control of helminthic infections involves the regular use of the appropriate anthelmintic drugs1. However, continuous administration of the drugs led to the development of resistance3. Moreover, synthetic anthelmintics are well known to possess several adverse and/or side effects. Thus alternate therapeutic agents for the helminthic infections are needed to be constantly discovered.
The roots Saussurea lappa (family: Compositae) and seeds of Nigella sativa (family. Ranunculaceae) have been quite commonly used in “Unani” medicine for treatment of various diseases3. The medicinal properties ascribed to these plant drugs include anthelmintic, anti-infectious, antiasthmatic, antiphiegmatic, antiflatulant, diuretic and tonic. In addition, these medicinal plants have been used to cure paralysis, skin diseases, cough, rheumatism, epilepsy, cholera and dyspepsia4,5 Akhtar et al.6 have reported that Saussurea lappa roots and Nigella sativa seeds possess anthelmintic principles which are effective respectively against gastrointestinal nematode and cestode infections of domestic animals. However, these antiparasitic activities have not been studied in humans so far. Therefore, a field trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacies of Saussurea lappa roots (Qust-e-Shereen) against nematodes and Nigella sativa seeds (Kalonji) against cestodes in children.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
A total of thirtysix children under 12 years of age naturally infected with the mixed nematodes predominantly harbouring Ascaris lumbricoides and another group of thirty-six children of the same age infected with the mixed cestodes, predominantly having Taenia saginata and Hymenolepsis nana were included in the study with the consent of parents. They were divided into six groups of six each. All children were being kept under practically similar hygienic and socio-economic conditions.
Pre and post treatment eggs counts per gram (EPG)
were done by McMaster Egg Counting Technique described by Soulsby7.
Administration of drugs
The roots of Saussurea lappa locally (Qust-eShereen) and seeds of Nigella sativa (Kalonji) were purchased from a local herbal dealer and were made free from dust and other adulterations. They were dried in incubator at 40°C, finely powdered and kept in the refrigerator in airtight glass bottles.
A group of six children suffering from mixed nematode or ëestode infection was kept as untreated control, while another group was treated orally with 10 mg/kg body weight pyrantel pamoate (Combantrin)8 or 50 mg/kg of Niclosamide (Yomesan)8. The other three groups were treated with 30, 40 and 50 mg/kg body weight of Saussurealappa powder or 20,30 and 40mg/kg of Nigella satin powdered seeds. Post-treatment faecal EPG counts were checked on days 3,7 and 15 by the same technique.
The data obtained were expressed as Means + SEM (Standard Error of Means). The percentage EPG reductions were calculated and the Student’s ‘t’ test was used to determine the significance of the differences in the groups8.
Table I shows that nematodal EPG counts in the faeces of untreated patients did not change significantly (P> 0.05) at all time intervals checked. A single oral administration of 40 and 50 mg/kg of powdered Saussurea lappa roots have reduced EPG count significantly (Pc0.05 or 0.001) on days 7 and 15 with percentage reductions similar to those achieved with 10 mg/kg of pyrantel pamoate. The methanolic extract of S. lappa in doses equivalent to 50 mg/kg also produced the same results.
In the children treated with 20, 30 and 40 mg/kg of the powdered Nigella sativa seeds, the cestodal faecal EPG counts were significantly (Pc0.05 or 0.001) decreased. However, the percentage EPG reductions were similar to the control drug, 50mg/kg of Niclosamide with 40mg/kg of N. satin on days 7 and 15 (Table II).
In addition, the ethanolic extract of N. sativa equivalent to 40 mg/kg of the crude powder also produced similar results which is a remarkable efficacy.
S. lappa roots and N. sativa seeds respectively possess significant antinematode and anticestodal activities. Their most effective oral doses were 50 and 40 mg/kg body weight and they did not have any serious side or adverse effects. Recently, oral treatment of the domestic animals with these indigenous medicinal plant drugs produced antinematodal and anticestodal efficacies similar to the present study9. The present studies do encourage the possible use of these cheap indigenous plant drugs as they have proved to be potent and safe agents for the treatment of children against round and tape worm infestations. However, further comprehensive chemical, pharmacological and chronic toxicological investigations are yet needed to elucidate their exact mechanisms of anthelmintic actions and to isolate their active principle(s).
The authors thank the World Bank and PARC, Islamabad for the financial support. The technical assistance of M. Iqbal and Allah Rakha is also aclmowledged.
1. Michel, S.F., Latham, 5.0., Church, B.M. and Leech, P,K..Use of anthelmintica forcattle in England and Walea during 1978. Vet. Rec., 1981; 108:252,
2. WaIler, P.1 and Prichard, R.K. Drug resistance in nematodes, in chemotherapy of parasitic infectiona. Edited by W.C. Campbell and R.S. Rew, New York, Plenum, 1985, p. 339.
3. Nadkarni. A.K. Indian materia medica. 3rd ed. Bombay, popular Boot Depot, 1954, p. 1319.
4. Chopra, R. N. Nayyer. S.C and Chopra, l.C. Glosaarv of indian medicinal planta. New Delho, coluncilofSecientilicand Indus trial Reaearach, 1957, p.335.
5. Ikaram, M. and Hussain, S.F. Compendium of medicinal plants. Peshawar, Pakistan Council Sci. Indua. Rca., 1978, p. 167.
6. Akhtar, MS. Anthelmintic evaluation of indigenous medicinal plants for veterinary usage, final research report, Faiaalabad, Uuivreaity of Agriculture, 1988, p. 172.
7. Soulaby, E.T.I. Helmintha. arthorpoda and protozoa ofdomesticat ed animals, London, English Language Boot Society, 1982, p. 809.
8. Akhtar, M.S. and Hassan, 1.3. Evaluation of aaussurea lappa roots (Oust) against naturalinfcction of gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep. Pakistan J. Agri. Sci., 1985; 22:
9. Akhtar, M.S. and javed, I. Efficacy of Nigella sativa, Linn aeeds against Moniezia infection in sheep. Indian Vet. .1., 1991 (Accepted).