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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antimicrobial activity of selected South African medicinal plants

Trine R H Nielsen13, Victor Kuete23*, Anna K Jäger1, Jacobus J Marion Meyer3 and Namrita Lall3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicinal Chemistry Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of science, University of Dschang, P.O. Box 67, Dschang, Cameroon

3 Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Biological Science, Pretoria 0002, South Africa

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:74  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-74

Published: 14 June 2012

Abstract

Background

Nearly 3,000 plant species are used as medicines in South Africa, with approximately 350 species forming the most commonly traded and used medicinal plants. In the present study, twelve South African medicinal plants were selected and tested for their antimicrobial activities against eight microbial species belonging to fungi, Mycobacteria, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

Methods

The radiometric respiratory technique using the BACTEC 460 system was used for susceptibility testing against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and the liquid micro-broth dilution was used for other antimicrobial assays.

Results

The results of the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) determinations indicated that the methanol extracts from Acacia karoo, Erythrophleum lasianthum and Salvia africana were able to prevent the growth of all the tested microorganisms. All other samples showed selective activities. MIC values below 100 μg/ml were recorded with A. karoo, C. dentate, E. lasianthum, P. obligun and S. africana on at least one of the nine tested microorganisms. The best activity (MIC value of 39.06 μg/ml) was noted with S. africana against E. coli, S. aureus and M. audouinii, and Knowltonia vesitoria against M. tuberculosis.

Conclusion

The overall results of the present work provide baseline information for the possible use of the studied South African plant extracts in the treatment of microbial infections.