Evaluation of the medicinal potentials of Bulbine abyssinica A. Rich in the management of diabetes mellitus in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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University of Fort Hare


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic physiological carbohydrate metabolic disorder with significant impact on the economy, quality of life and life expectancy in South Africa. Herbal medicine has become the alternative therapy in the management of this disease. However, their safety and effectiveness have not been investigated. To address this, one of the plants used in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, Bulbine abyssinica A. Rich (Asphodelaceae), was evaluated. Bulbine abyssinica is one of the species used in the management of diabetes mellitus. This plant was mentioned during an ethnobotanical survey conducted in Nkonkobe municipality of the Eastern Cape Province. Though a decoction prepared from the whole plant is used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, the mechanism of action and its safety has not been elucidated. Thus, this research work was designed to contribute to the understanding of the possible mechanism of action of B. abyssinica as an antidiabetic medicinal plant and its toxic potentials to the users. The aqueous extract exhibited remarkable inhibitory activity on α-amylase (estimated inhibitory concentration (IC)50 value of 3.28 μg/ml), while the acetone extract exhibited weak inhibitory activity. The acetone extract exhibited notable α-glucosidase inhibitory activity (IC50 value of 4.27 μg/ml) while aqueous extract had significantly weak activity. The Lineweaver-Burk double reciprocal plots revealed that the aqueous extract exerts noncompetitive inhibition on the α-amylase activity while the acetone extract exerts a near competitive inhibitory pattern on the α-glucosidase activity. The extracts from the plant possessed high free radical scavenging activities, with acetone extract exhibiting the highest activities in all assay models used except with ferric reducing power and nitric oxide (NO) scavenging ability. The aqueous extract exhibited the highest ferric reducing power and nitric oxide radical mopping strength while the essential oil exhibited the highest scavenging activities with 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and relatively high ferric reducing power and nitric oxide scavenging ability. The acetone extract and the essential oil of this species exhibited higher albumin denaturation inhibition than the aqueous extract while the latter showed the greatest membrane lysis protection. The essential oil, acetone and aqueous extracts from this plant significantly inhibited the growth of Shigelle flexneri, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis. Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus vulgaris and Streptococcus pyogens growth were inhibited by acetone and aqueous extracts. The essential oil also showed inhibitory activity against Proteus vulgaris. However, the extracts were active against the growth of only three fungi species. The essential oil showed significant inhibitory activity against Trichophyton rubrum. The aqueous extract inhibited the growth of Microsporum gypseum while the acetone extract was active against Microsporum canis, and Microsporum gypseum.