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Evaluation of phytochemical composition and antimicrobial activity of Terminalia glaucescens against some oral pathogens.


The World Health Organization has recommended and encouraged the use of chewing sticks ( Almas and Al Lafi 1995). Studies by Danielsen et al., (1989), Aderinokun et al., (1999) and Almas and Al Zeid (2004 have demonstrated chewing sticks are at least as effective as toothpaste in maintaining oral hygiene. Sathananthan et al., (1996) reported that Africans that use chewing sticks have fever carious lesions than those that use toothbrushes. In a related development, Enwowu (1997) posited that chewing sticks, in addition to providing mechanical stimulation of the gums, also destroy microbes; these advantages of the chewing sticks over the conventional toothpaste and brushes has been attributed to the strong teeth of Africans (Ugoji et al., 2000).

Akande and Hayashi (1998) reported that in Nigeria, some of the chewing sicks being used are obtained from the following plants: Garcinia manni, Masularia accuminata,Terminalia glaucescens, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Pseudocedrela kotschyi, Xanthoxyllum gilletti and Azadiracta indica. T. glaucescens is perhaps one of the widely used plant for chewing stick application in Nigeria. This may have been responsible for a vast array of studies on its antimicrobial activity against some oral pathogens. Ndukwe et al., (2005) studied the antimicrobial effect of its root on Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeroginosa, Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. Rotimi et al., (1988) documented the antibacterial activity of the bark extract of T. glaucescens on Bacteriodes gingivalis and B. melaninogenicus. In an earlier report, we reported a significantly higher antibacterial activity of ethanolic extract of T. glaucescens root against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes (Ogundiya et al., 2006).

The need to process and package indigenous medicinal plants that are of oral importance into toothpaste has been proposed (Ogundiya et al., 2006). Interestingly, barely two years after this proposition, a particular Nigeria- based company released a plant based dentifrice into Nigerian market. However, this present trend requires that the bioactivity of many of these medicinal plants against common oral pathogens be scientifically established. In this regard, the present study was aimed at providing information on the antimicrobial activity of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the stem and root of T. glaucescens on oral pathogens such as Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

Materials and methods

Plant collection and pre-extraction preparation

Different plant parts such as leaves, stem, root and fruit of T. glaucescens were collected from Oke-Ogun axis of south Western Nigeria (a woody Savannah vegetation). The plant was identified by a plant Taxonomist at the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan. Nigeria. The stem and root of the plant was sun-dried for seven days, pounded using pestle and wooden mortar.

Extraction procedure

The ethanol extract preparation was done as previously described by Ogundiya et al., (2006). However, for water extraction, the procedure was basically the same except that soaking was done for 48h and the filterate was evaporated to dryness. The crude extracts were reconstituted into aqueous solution using sterile distilled water to obtain extract concentrations of 0.4g/ml and 0.2g/ml.


Pure cultures of Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans and Staphylococcus saprophyticus isolated from patients with dental diseases were obtained from the Medical Microbiology department of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan. Nigeria. Bacterial cultures were maintained on Nutrient agar slant and the fungus on Potato dextrose agar slant, both at 6-8[degrees]C.

Antimicrobial assay

The antimicrobial activity of different concentrations of both ethanol and aqueous extracts was determined by modified agar-well diffusion method of Perez et al., (1990) as described by Popoola et al., (2007). The bacterial plates were incubated at 37[degrees]C (fungal plates at 28[degrees]C) and the zone of inhibition measured in mm after 24h, 48h and 72h of growth. A control experiment was set up by using an equal amount of sterile distilled water in place of different extract concentrations.

Phytochemical studies

Both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the phytochemicals present were carried out using methods described by Fadeyi et al., (1987) and Harbone (1998).

Statistical Analysis of Data

Data were expressed as mean[+ or -]standard deviation. The data obtained were subjected to ANOVA test to determine whether there was significant difference between extract used and also between the length of incubation.


The results of the antimicrobial assay of the stem extract of T. glaucescens is presented in Tables 1-3. Results obtained showed that both ethanol and aqueous extracts of the tested chewing sticks had inhibitory effect on the growth of clinical isolates Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. ANOVA test of data on the antimicrobial activity of aqueous and ethanol extracts on C. albicans revealed that the solvent used in extraction procedure had significant effect (P<0.05) on the level of inhibition observed. In addition, the root extracts exhibited a significantly higher inhibition on C. albicans compared to the effect produced by the stem extract. Results of the antimicrobial testing on C. albicans also showed that the inhibition of the organism is time dependent as the degree of inhibition decreased with increased length of incubation.

The inhibitory effect of the extracts on Streptococcus mutans showed no significant difference (P>0.05) between extract concentration, but the effect exhibited by ethanol extract was significantly higher than that produced by aqueous extract. However, the length of incubation produced no significant effect (P>0.05) on the degree of inhibition of S. mutans by the root and stem extracts. ANOVA test of the data obtained from the antimicrobial assay of the different extracts on Staphylococcus saprophyticus revealed a trend similar to that observed on Streptococcus mutans.

Table 4 shows the result of qualitative and quantitative analyses of the phytochemicals present in the investigated plant parts. Alkaloids, saponnins and tannins are the major phytochemicals present and the quantities present in the root were significantly (P<0.05) higher than the ones contained in the stem. Steroids were present in the investigated stem and root and phenol was present in trace amount. Cyanoglycoside was only present in a small amount in the root.


The activity of plant extracts against bacteria have been studied for years, but in a more intensified way during the last three decades. During this period, numerous antimicrobial screening evaluations have been published based on the traditional use of Chinese, African and Asian plant-based drugs (Suffredim et al., 2004). In the present study, the aqueous and ethanol extracts of the root and stem of T. glaucescens inhibited the growth of all clinical isolates used; but their effectiveness varied. The root extracts were more effective than the stem extracts. This may be attributed to a significantly higher (P<0.05) concentrations of the investigated phytochemicals in the root extract (Table 4). Previous reports have indicated that the root of T. glaucescens is often used as chewing sticks (Akande and Hayashi 1998; Ndukwe et al., 2005). Result from the present study is possibly giving insight on the reason for this age long practice.

The influence of solvent for extraction on the inhibitory capacity of the extract on the test organism has been reported by Al-Bayati and Sulaiman (2008). It should be pointed out that, though ethanol extracts exhibited more pronounced inhibition than aqueous extracts, yet the effectiveness of the aqueous extract to inhibit the growth of the clinical isolates in the present study could not be contemned. This perhaps explained the effectiveness of this chewing stick in vivo.

The inhibition of Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans and Staphylococcus saprophyticus observed in this study has confirmed that the antimicrobial principles in T. glaucescens which inhibited microorganisms like Bacteriodes gingivalis, B. melaninogenicus (Rotimi et al 1988), Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeroginosa (Ndukwe et al., 2005), Streptococcus pyogenes (Ogundiya et al., 2006) are equally active against the tested clinical isolates in the present study. Though previous reports did not indicated antimicrobial activity of T. glaucescens against C. albicans at low concentrations (Adekunle and Odukoya 2006; Okunade et al., 2007), results from the present study have shown that at higher concentrations as used in the present study, C albicans is sensitive to T. glaucescens extract.

A recent trend in the management of periodontal infections is to employ local antimicrobial delivery (Killoy 1998). In a related development, Ndukwe et al., (2005) stated that it is possible chewing sticks provide locally available antimicrobial agents in a manner similar to antimicrobial polymers and applications and could provide suitable substitute therapy if they can be shown to be efficacious. Results from the present study have shown that T. glaucescens has great potential in dentifrice production.


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Corresponding Author: A.L. Kolapo, Department of Biology, The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Ibadan. Nigeria E. Mail:

(1) M.O.Ogundiya, (1) A.L. Kolapo, (2) M.B.Okunade and (2) J.A.Adejumobi

(1) Department of Biology, The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Ibadan. Nigeria (2) Department of Chemistry, The Polytechnic, Ibadan. Ibadan. Nigeria

(1) M.O. Ogundiya, (1) A.L. Kolapo, (2) M.B. Okunade and (2) J.A. Adejumobi, Evaluation of Phytochemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Terminalia Glaucescens Against Some Oral Pathogens, Adv. in Nat. Appl. Sci., 2(2): 89-93, 2008
Table 1: Inhibition of Candida albicans by aqueous and
ethanol extract of T. glaucescens

 Aqueous Extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 28.5 [+ or -] 0.0 28.0 [+ or -] 1.0

 48 17.0 [+ or -] 0.0 16.5 [+ or -] 1.5

 72 14.0 [+ or -] 0.5 11.0 [+ or -] 1.7

Stem 24 32.0 [+ or -] 4.0 21.5 [+ or -] 0.5

 48 30.5 [+ or -] 1.5 17.5 [+ or -] 3.0

 72 20.5 [+ or -] 0.5 12.5 [+ or -] 0.5

 Ethanol Extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 40.0 [+ or -] 0.0 38.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 37.0 [+ or -] 1.0 35.0 [+ or -] 1.0

 72 35.0 [+ or -] 5.0 32.0 [+ or -] 2.0

Stem 24 32.5 [+ or -] 0.0 30.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 25.0 [+ or -] 0.0 19.5 [+ or -] 0.5

 72 21.5 [+ or -] 2.5 19.5 [+ or -] 4.5

Values are mean [+ or -] standard deviation (n=3)

Table 2: Inhibition of Streptococcus m utans by aqueous and ethanol
extract of T. glaucescens

 Aqueous Extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 28.5 [+ or -] 0.5 27.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 27.0 [+ or -] 2.0 26.0 [+ or -] 2.0

 72 26.5 [+ or -] 2.5 25.0 [+ or -] 1.0

Stem 24 27.5 [+ or -] 2.5 24.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 27.5 [+ or -] 3.5 24.5 [+ or -] 1.5

 72 22.5 [+ or -] 2.5 17.0 [+ or -] 3.0

 Ethanol Extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 36.0 [+ or -] 4.0 36.9 [+ or -] 4.0

 48 33.5 [+ or -] 0.5 32.5 [+ or -] 0.5

 72 34.5 [+ or -] 5.5 31.5 [+ or -] 6.5

Stem 24 35.5 [+ or -] 0.0 25.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 28.5 [+ or -] 4.5 20.5 [+ or -] 3.5

 72 23.0 [+ or -] 0.2 18.5 [+ or -] 0.5

Values are mean [+ or -] standard deviation (n=3)

Table 3: Inhibition of Staphylococcus saprophyticus by aqueous
and ethanol extract of T. glaucescens

 Aqueous Extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 29.0 [+ or -] 1.0 28.0 [+ or -] 2.0

 48 28.0 [+ or -] 1.0 26.5 [+ or -] 2.5

 72 18.0 [+ or -] 2.0 15.0 [+ or -] 0.0

Stem 24 30.0 [+ or -] 0.0 26.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 19.5 [+ or -] 0.5 20.0 [+ or -] 1.0

 72 15.0 [+ or -] 0.0 12.0 [+ or -] 2.0

 Ethanol extract

 Extract (g/ml) Concentration

Plant part Time of 0.4 0.2
 incubation (h)

Root 24 40.0 [+ or -] 0.0 39.5 [+ or -] 0.5

 48 38.0 [+ or -] 2.0 37.0 [+ or -] 5.0

 72 37.5 [+ or -] 2.5 27.5 [+ or -] 0.5

Stem 24 35.0 [+ or -] 0.0 35.0 [+ or -] 0.0

 48 24.5 [+ or -] 0.5 23.0 [+ or -] 4.0

 72 17.5 [+ or -] 2.5 19.5 [+ or -] 0.5

Values are mean [+ or -] standard deviation (n=3)

Table 4: Results of the quantitative estimation of the
phytochemicals (mg/100g) present in the ethanol extracts
of T. glaucescens

 Alkaloid Steroid Phenol

Stem 62.7 9.8 Trace

Root 95.5 8.5 Trace

 Tannin Cyanoglycoside Saponin

Stem 33.9 Trace 33.5

Root 39.6 2.8 46.6

Values are mean of triplicate determinations.
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Ogundiya, M.O.; Kolapo, A.L.; Okunade, M.B.; Adejumobi, J.A.
Publication:Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences
Article Type:Report
Date:May 1, 2008
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