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Grasses in South African traditional medicine: A review of their biological activities and phytochemical content

Gebashe, F., Aremu, A.O., Finnie, J.F., Van Staden, J.
South African journal of botany 2019 v.122 pp. 301-329
alkaloids, antioxidant activity, bioactive compounds, cardiac glycosides, chemical constituents of plants, chemical structure, cytotoxicity, databases, grasses, health services, herbaceous plants, humans, livestock, medicinal properties, phenolic compounds, sterols, terpenoids, traditional medicine
Certain grass species are used as remedies against diseases and as nourishing food for both humans and livestock. The review aims to explore the grasses used in South African traditional medicine and highlight their pharmacological and phytochemical properties as well as safety. Chemical compounds were drawn using ChemDraw Ultra 7.0, structures were confirmed or authenticated using chemical structure databases such as PubChem, Chemical Books, NIST Chemistry Books and ChemSpider. In terms of pharmacological properties of these grasses, antimicrobial, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumour, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-diabetic, diuretic, hepato-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-plasmodial and antioxidant activities have been indicated. Diverse classes of phytochemicals such as sterols, alkaloids, phenolics, terpenes and cardiac glycosides have been isolated. Toxicity and cytotoxicity studies of extracts and the isolated compounds from the grasses suggest their relative safety. Grasses play a substantial role in primary health care needs and may serve as novel sources of bioactive compound(s). However, when compared to other plant families often used in South African traditional medicine, there is limited scientific evidence on their pharmacological and phytochemical properties as well as cytotoxicity. Thus, more research efforts are required to unlock the potential embedded in this important group of plants.