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Methanolic extracts of Withania somnifera leaves, fruits and roots possess antioxidant properties and antibacterial activities

Nadia Alam1, Monzur Hossain1, Md Abdul Mottalib2, Siti Amrah Sulaiman3, Siew Hua Gan4 and Md Ibrahim Khalil35*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Botany, Rajshahi University, Rajshahi, Bangladesh

2 Laboratory Services Division, Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders Hospital (BIRDEM), Shahbag, Dhaka, Bangladesh

3 Department of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia

4 Human Genome Centre, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia

5 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, 1342, Bangladesh

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:175  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-175

Published: 7 October 2012



Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, is an important herb in ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems. The present study was designed to evaluate the antioxidant and antibacterial activities of an 80% aqueous methanolic extract of W. somnifera roots (WSREt), fruits (WSFEt) and leaves (WSLEt).


Several assays were performed to determine the antioxidant properties of this herb including 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH) scavenging activity, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), ferrous chelation and inhibition of β-carotene bleaching.


The values for DPPH, FRAP, ferrous chelation and inhibition of β carotene bleaching for the three types of extracts ranged from 101.73-801.93 μg/ml, 2.26-3.29 mM Fe/kg, 0.22-0.65 mg/ml and 69.87-79.67%, respectively, indicating that W. somnifera, particularly the leaves, possesses significant antioxidant properties. The mean ascorbic acid content was 20.60-62.60 mg/100 g, and the mean anthocyanin content was 2.86-12.50 mg/100 g. Antibacterial activities were measured using the agar well diffusion method and five pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria: Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Citrobacter freundii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. The leaf extracts displayed the highest activity against S. typhi (32.00 ± 0.75 mm zone of inhibition), whereas the lowest activity was against K. pneumoniae (19.00 ± 1.48 mm zone of inhibition). The lowest minimum inhibitory concentration value was 6.25 mg/ml, which was against S. typhi, followed by 12.5 mg/ml against E. coli.


In addition to its antioxidant properties, W. somnifera exhibited significant antibacterial activities against Gram-negative bacteria, particularly S. typhi.

Withania somnifera; Antioxidant; Antibacterial; Free radicals; FRAP