Many people are infected by venereal diseases and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in rural areas. Sexual transmitted diseases are considered a disgrace in the community because of the stigmas attached to them. Indigenous people tend to use several medicinal plants to treat these infectious diseases rather than western medicines.
This study was aimed to evaluate the antibacterial, antifungal, antigonococcal, HIV-type 1 reverse transcriptase (RT) and to determine phenolic content of twelve medicinal plants used by the Venda people to treat venereal diseases.
The dried plant materials of twelve medicinal plants were extracted with petroleum ether (PE), dichloromethane (DCM), 80% ethanol (EtOH) and water. The extracts were evaluated for their antimicrobial properties against two Gram-positive (Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus), three Gram-negative (Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae) bacteria and a fungus Candida albicans. The phenolic contents including total phenolics, flavonoids, gallotannins and condensed tannins of the methanolic extracts of the same plants were also determined.
DCM and EtOH extracts of Bolusanthus speciosus bark and stems exhibited good activity (<0.1mg/ml) against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus with MIC values ranging from 0.098 to 0.012 mg/ml. The DCM extracts of Bolusanthus speciosus bark showed the best activity against Candida albicans with MIC and MFC values of 0.012 mg/ml. Water and 50% methanol extracts of Acacia karroo bark, Bolusanthus speciosus stems and Ximenia caffra roots and leaves showed good RT inhibition percentages (>70%) at 1mg/ml. All tested extracts exhibited dose dependent IC(50) values ranging from (0.1 to 0.6 mg/ml). Almost all plant species investigated contained phenolic compounds, which were greater than 5mg/g with the exception of Adansonia digitata bark and Aloe chabaudii roots. The highest level of flavonoids (11.9 μg/g) were detected in Ximenia caffra leaves. Whereas the highest amount of gallotannins were detected in Ekebergia capensis bark (69 μg/g). Condensed tannins were higher in Ekebergia capensis bark and Ximenia caffra roots (0.47 and 0.48% respectively). Adansonia digitata bark and Aloe chabaudii roots exhibited low levels of phenolic compounds as well as antimicrobial activities.
The presented results offer supporting evidence for effective use of selected plant extracts. More in vitro confirmatory tests using other assays and/or in vivo tests are required. Toxicity studies are urgently needed to support the safe usage of these plants.