Leaflets 12: 1218-20. 2008.
Anti-venom Activity of Medicinal
Plants – A Mini Review
G. Parameswari, T. Subbraj and A. Michael
Microbiology, PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, India.
*Corresponding author: Ph: +91- 422 -09842525152
15 December 2008
Snake envenoming is a major public
health issue in the rural tropics with large numbers of envenoming and
deaths. The common poisonous snakes
found in India are Cobra (Naja naja), Krait (Bangarus
Caeruleus), Russell’s viper (Daboia russelli) and Saw Scaled Viper
(Echis Carinatus) (Bawaskar, 2004).
About 35,000 to 50,000 people die of snakebite every year in India. Antivenom immunotherapy is the only specific
treatment against snake venom envenomation.
Antivenoms are usually hyper
immune sera collected from animals which bind and inactivate venom
components. Antiserum development in animals is time consuming,
expensive and requires ideal storage condition. Over the years many attempts
have been made for the development of snake venom antagonists especially from
plant sources. The use of plants against the
effects of snakes bite has been long recognized; more scientific attention
has been given since last 20 years (Santosh et al., 2004). Extracts from plants have been used
among traditional healers, especially in tropical areas where there are
plentiful sources, as therapy for snakebite for a long time. Several
medicinal plants, which appear in old drug recipes or which have been passed
on by oral tradition, are believed to be snakebite antidotes. In modern
science, there have been many attempts to study these plants to clarify their
has a rich tradition of the usage of medicinal plants. Many Indian medicinal
plants are recommended for the treatment of snakebite. The methanolic root extracts of Vitex negundo Linn.
and Emblica officinalis Gaertn. were tested for antisnake venom activity.
Both plant extracts were significantly neutralized the Vipera russellii and
Naja kaouthia venom induced lethal activity both in vitro and in
vivo studies. V. russellii venom-induced haemorrhage, coagulant,
defibrinogenating and inflammatory activity was significantly neutralized by
both plant extracts (Alam et al., 2003). Hemidesmus
indicus root extracts effectively neutralized Viper
venom-induced lethal, haemorrhagic, coagulant, anticoagulant and inflammatory activity (Alam et al., 1994). The butanolic extract of Eclipta prostrata plant was partially inhibited the hemorrhagic activity
but displayed very low anti-phospholipase A2 activity and did not
inhibit proteolytic activity of Malayan pit viper venom venom (Pithayanukul et al.,
2004). Lupeol acetate isolated from the root extract of Indian
sarsaparilla Hemidesmus indicus R.Br. could significantly neutralize
lethality, haemorrhage, defibrinogenation, edema, PLA2
activity induced by Daboia russellii venom. It also neutralized Naja
kaouthia venom induced lethality, cardiotoxicity, neurotoxicity and
respiratory changes in experimental animals (Chatterjee et al.,2006). Beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol isolated from the
root extract of Pluchea indica
Less. (Asteraceae) may play an important role, along with antiserum, in
neutralizing snake venom-induced actions. Several plant constituents like
flavonoids, quinonoid, xanthene, polyphenols
and terpenoids possessed protein binding and enzyme inhibiting properties and also
inhibit snake venom phospholipase A2 (PLA2) activities of both Viper and Cobra venom (Selvanayagam
al., 1996). Triterpenoids present
in V. negundo and E.
officinalis may involve in venom
inactivation processes. The pentacyclic triterpenes (free or as glycosides)
are found widely in several antisnake venom plants (Aegle marmelos,
Centipeda minima, Aloe vera, Phyllanthus
niruri, Alstonia scholaris, Phyllanthus emblica, Elephentopus
scaber, etc.) and provide
nearly 20% protection against snake venom
al., 2000). Eclipta
prostrata L. (Asteraceae) is a pantropical and subtropical plant used as
an anti-venom against snakebite in China
and in Brazil (Mors, 1991). Ticli et
al. (2005) reported that the methanolic extract from Cordia verbenacea significantly
inhibited paw edema induced by Bothrops
jararacussu snake venom. Chatterjee
al. (2004) reported that an active
compound from the Strychnus nux
vomica seed extract, inhibited viper
venom induced lipid peroxidation in experimental animals. It may be concluded
that evidence are now available to establish the scientific background of the
traditional use of plants against snakebite. The antisnake venom plants
contain more than one compound (secondary metabolites) that are responsible
for venom neutralization. Thus Medicinal
plants with antivenom activity could be considered as an effective
alternative to mammalian antibody production for
the treatment of snakebite
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