Desert cotton scientifically known as Aerva javanica has previously been proved to have many pharmacological properties without knowing its safety profile. This led the scientists to perform a study in order to investigate and identify the bioactive compounds present in it to assess the gender based acute and sub-acute oral toxicity in mice and rats1.
Authors carried out the study on plants taken from Ahaggar or Hoggar Mountains, the highland area in Southern Algeria. This specie is found in other countries like Pakistan, India, Egypt and Australia. Several studies have reported the presence of many chemical compounds such as flavonoides, steroids, triterpenes, tannins and saponins. Also, other primary components are listed as carbohydrates with glycosides, lipids, fatty acids and some essential oils2, 3.
However gender base information related to this plant is not present in literature. For the first time researchers tried to analyze a possible reaction between male and female plants response in vivo on mammal animals. They distinguished the reaction difference between male and female plants to ensure the safety of the population related to the omnipresent self harvesting of plants by folks or healers.
Colorimetric methods were used to determine the phyto-chemical screening. Different concentrations of plant extract were given to mice in a dose dependant manner. Change in in weight, biochemical, haematological and histopathological parameters were studied.
It was found that oral administration of single dose was found to be non-toxic between male and female’s bioactive components levels. When the dosage was given in higher amounts for several weeks the female plant induced hypo-chromic anemia on female rats. This showed the estrogenic effect of plant in females as compared to male ones.
Authors concluded the study by saying:
“However, the experimented dose used remains more than 9 times stronger than the recommended dose by healers, thus this open the mind to the large use of this plant by Tuaregs (South Algerian people) to cure various diseases. Indeed, the parameters evaluated in this study showed the safety of extracts of aerial parts of Aerva javanica independently of its gender. Otherwise, further toxicological assays would be necessary to confirm the safety of this plant extract.”
Written by: Rabeeia
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17 November, 2019