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Species and tissue-specificity of prokinetic, laxative and spasmodic effects of Fumaria parviflora

Najeeb-ur-Rehman1, Malik Hassan Mehmood1, Adnan J Al-Rehaily2, Ramzi AA Mothana23 and Anwar H Gilani1*

Author affiliations

1 Natural Product Research Division, Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, The Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

2 Department of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

3 Department of Pharmacognosy|, Faculty of Pharmacy, Sana'a-University, Sana'a, Yemen

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Citation and License

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:16  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-16

Published: 10 March 2012



Fumaria parviflora Linn. (Fumariaceae), is a small branched annual herb found in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This study was designed to provide pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Fumaria parviflora in gut motility disorders.


The in-vivo prokinetic and laxative assays were conducted in mice. Isolated intestinal preparations (ileum and jejunum) from different animal species (mouse, guinea-pig and rabbit) were separately suspended in tissue baths containing Tyrode's solution bubbled with carbogen and maintained at 37°C. The spasmogenic responses were recorded using isotonic transducers coupled with PowerLab data acquisition system.


The aqueous-methanol extract of Fumaria parviflora (Fp.Cr), which tested positive for the presence of alkaloids, saponins, tannins and anthraquinones showed partially atropine-sensitive prokinetic and laxative activities in the in-vivo in mice at 30 and 100 mg/kg. In the in-vitro studies, Fp.Cr (0.01-1 mg/ml) caused a concentration-dependent atropine-sensitive stimulatory effect both in mouse tissues (jejunum and ileum), and rabbit jejunum but had no effect in rabbit ileum. In guinea-pig tissues (ileum and jejunum), the crude extract showed a concentration-dependent stimulatory effect with higher efficacy in ileum and the effect was partially blocked by atropine, indicating the involvement of more than one types of gut-stimulant components (atropine-sensitive and insensitive). This could be a plausible reason for the greater efficacy of Fp.Cr in gut preparations of guinea-pig than in rabbit or mouse.


This study shows the prokinetic, laxative and spasmodic effects of the plant extract partially mediated through cholinergic pathways with species and tissue-selectivity, and provides a sound rationale for the medicinal use of Fumaria parviflora in gut motility disorders such as, indigestion and constipation. This study also suggests using different species to know better picture of pharmacological profile of the test material.