Assessment of the antibacterial activity of Artemisia afra, Erythrina lysistemon and Psidium guajava
Nsele, Nhlanhla Wiseman
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Introduction Medicinal plants have been used for centuries as remedies for human diseases because they contain components of therapeutic value. Recently, the acceptance of traditional medicine as an alternative form of health care and the development of microbial resistance to the available antibiotics have led scientists to investigate the antimicrobial activity of medicinal plants Aim The aim of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial activity of extracts obtained from medicinal plants used in traditional medicine. A comparative study was carried out on the antimicrobial properties of extracts obtained by two different methods in order to choose that which extracts the most effective antimicrobial compounds. Methodology The plants used in this study Artemisia afra, Erythrina lysistemon and Psidium guajava were harvested from the Silverglen Nature Reserve (Chatsworth) early in the morning (8 a.m.). The leaves of A. afra and P. guajava extracts and the bark of E. Lysistemon were used to prepare the extracts. All plant extracts were prepared according to modified method of the German Homeopathic Pharmacopoea. Two solvents, water and 60 percent ethanol were used to extract the antibacterial compounds from plant material. The extracts were then assessed for their antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. The effect of the plant extracts on these bacteria was determined by the disk diffusion test, which was used as the screening test. Positive results were further subjected to the minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration assays. Tubes that showed no turbidity were then sub-cultured onto non-selective plates. Bacterial sensitivity testing was carried out in accordance with modified Kirby-Bauer Antimicrobial Sensitivity Test. An attempt was made to identify some antibacterial compounds using Thin Layer Chromatography and High Pressure Liquid Chromatography. Results None of the gram negative organisms were inhibited by Artemisia afra, Erythrina cafra and Psidium guajava. Only the ethanol extracts of all three plants were able to inhibit Staphylococcus aureus but not Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas auruginosa. None of the test organisms were inhibited by the aqueous extracts of all three plants used in this study. In the screening test, the zones of inhibition for ethanol extracts against Staphylococcus aureus ranged from 3mm – 7mm. The minimum inhibitory concentration ranged from 16.67 percent – 83.3 percent inhibition depending on the dilution of the extract. Quercetin and Catechin were identified as some of the antibacterial compounds present in the leaves of Psidium guajava. These two compounds were not identified on Erythrina lysistemon and Artemisia afra. Conclusion The results obtained in this study have proven that Artemisia afra, Erythrina cafra and Psidium guajava ethanol extracts contain antibacterial substances. The ethanol extracts of all plants in this study inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus but had no effect on the gram negative bacteria. Aqueous plant did not inhibit the growth of any bacteria in this study. This study has also shown that antibacterial effect of these extracts may be considerably enhanced in traditional treatment if traditional healers can include ethanol as one of the extraction solvents. The results obtained in this study might be considered sufficient for further studies aimed at isolating and identifying the active compounds and evaluating possible synergism of antimicrobial activity among these extracts. Investigations on toxicity of these extracts should also be carried out.