Determination of the mineral composition of some medicinal plants used to treat Anaemia in Traditional African societies
Ouma, Josiah Omolo
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Eight Plants reported in the literature for treatment of anaemia in traditional African communities were investigated for their iron contents. These plants were Adenia gummiferra. Albizia versicolor, Allophylus rubifolius. Brackenridgea zanguebarica. Bridelia cathartica, Commiphora africana, Lannea stuhlmannii and Triumfetta rhomboidea. They were screened for iron contents since iron deficiency anaemia is the most prevalent form of anaemia experienced in poorer parts of the third world countries. Though abundance of iron alone cannot offer correction of its deficiency, this project was to evaluate its contents in these plants as a first step in understanding their curative ability. Some nutritional elements were also determined to compare their contents with common dietary sources. These were Ca, Mg, K, Na, P. Mn. Cu and Zn. The determinations were carried out using atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS) for Ca, Mg. Fe. Mn. Cu and Zn: flame photometry for K and Na, and a vanado-molybdate colorimetric method for P. All the determinations in this project were based on dry weight basis. The dried plant parts were brought to solution using standard methods: wet and dry oxidation. Results obtained by the two methods were statistically treated and compared to establish whether the methods were agreeing on the value for the content of each element determined. In all cases the two methods gives results that were not statistically different, hence the average of the two values obtained was taken as the actual content of each element for each plant part. The values obtained for the elements were compared with corresponding elements of some leafy edible vegetables. Vegetables that were analyzed were spinach, kale, lettuce, cowpeas leaves, onions and pumpkin leaves. results indicated that spinach had more total iron content (38.4mg/100g dry matter) and was comparable only with the rootbark of Adenia gummiferra (32,11gm/100g dry matter). Bridelia cathartica (35.69mg/100g dry matter). Lannea stuhlmannii (32.21mg/100g dry matter) and Triumfetta rhomboidea 32.74mg/100g dry matter. The decoctions used to treat anaemic patients were found to have very low iron contents. Leaves had extracted iron in the range 0.61-8.78mg/100mg/100g dry matter, stembark 0.10-6.40mg/100g dry matters and rootbark in the range 0.09-13mg/100g dry matter. It could therefore be concluded that the extracts formed during decoction preparation do have component that enhance iron absorption in the body or allow it to be extracted in the required form. The amount of plant material and water taken when decoctions are prepared by traditional methods coupled with long usage could also be an important factor in the curative ability of these plants. The other nutritional elements determined were found to have levels that were comparable to the vegetables.