Qualitative Phytochemical Screening of Jatropha Curcas Latex

Qualitative Phytochemical Screening of Jatropha Curcas Latex


Phytochemical constituents of hot water and ethanol extracts of Jatropha curcas latex was investigated using standard chemical methods. The results obtained indicated that the hot water extract of J. curcas latex contains saponins, flavonoids, and glycosides at varying concentrations, while tannins, steroids, phenol, terpenes, proteins, alkaloid and Phlobatanin were not detected. Also, ethanol extract of J. curcas latex contains saponins, steroids, terpenes, alkaloid and glycosides at varying concentrations. The result indicated that saponins were found in very high amount and this suggests why the latex of J. curcas enhances blood clothing when applied to fresh wounds or cuts on the skin since saponins are known to possess the potentials of precipitating and coagulating red blood cells. The result therefore supports the application of J. curcas latex extract in ethno-medicine and will serve as a good source in pharmaceutical productions against some pathogenic microorganisms and also act as an anti-coagulant.



1.1 Background to the Study

Plants are rich source of many natural products most of which have been extensively used for human welfare and treatment of various diseases (Kumer and Sharma, 2008). Jatropha curcas, a multipurpose, drought resistant, perennial plant belonging to Euphorbiaceae family is gaining a lot of economic importance because of its several potentials in industrial application and medicinal values (Shivani et al., 2012). Jatropha curcas has been used as traditional medicine to cure various infections. Researchers had isolated and characterized numerous biologically active compounds from all parts of this plant. In addition, the mechanisms of actions of these active compounds have been studied in relation to the applications in traditional medicine (Reddy et al., 2012; Oyi et al., 2002).

Plant secondary metabolites also known as phytochemicals are biologically active, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants, which provide health benefits for humans. They protect plants from diseases and contribute to the plants colour, aroma and flavor (Hasler and Blumberg, 1999). Costa et al., (1999) stated that photochemicals accumulate in different parts of the plants, such as in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits or seeds. Many phytochemicals, particularly the pigment molecules, are often concentrated in the outer layers of the various plant tissues. Levels of photochemical vary from plant to plant depending upon the variety, processing, cooking and growing conditions (King and Young, 1999). Phytochemicals are also available in supplementary forms, but evidence is lacking that they provide the same health benefits as dietary phytochemical. There are more than four thousand known phytochemicals (Moorachian, 2000). It is well-known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, but recent researches demonstrate that many phytochemicals can also protect human against diseases (Narasinga, 2003).

Medicinal plant like Jatropha curcas have played major role in the treatment of various diseases (Kumer and Sharma, 2008). Jatropha curcas widely grown in Central and South America, South East, Asia, India and Africa (Gubitz et al., 1999). All parts of Jatropha (seeds, leaves, bark, and stem) have been used in traditional medicine and for veterinary purposes (Duke, 1998). It has been considered a traditional herb in many parts of the world (Gubitz et al., 1999; Kumer and Sharma, 2008).

For instance, the seeds of Jatropha curcas can be used as a laxative (anti-constipation) in traditional medicine. The latex or sap can as well be applied on fresh wounds to aid fast healing while the leave extract can be taken to prevent malaria (Makkar et al., 2008).  It has gotten other several uses as a medicinal plant in various treating diseases like gout, jaundice, tumor, wound healing, toothache and blood. The extract can be used in the treatment of allergies, burns, cuts, wound inflammation, leprosy, leucoderma and smallpox. Water extract of the branches can be used to treat HIV and tumor (Shivani et al., 2012).

Furthermore Jatropha curcas latex also exhibits good antimicrobial, pro-coagulant, and anticoagulant activities (Osaniyi and Onajobi, 2003). In Mexico for instance the latex is used for fungal infections in mouth, digestive trouble in children, wasp and bee stings .Also in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, Philippines and Indonesia the latex is said to effectively treat scabies, eczema, toothache and ringworm. It is used as a mouth rinse to treat bleeding gums and to sooth a baby’s inflamed tongue (Suwondo, 1993). Jatropha curcas latex exhibited antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus subtilis (Oyi et al., 2002).

In view of the above reported medicinal potential of Jatropha curcas latex, especially its ability to aid blood clothing, this work investigated the nature of phytochemical present in the latex to ascertain whether any of the phytochemicals found in the latex has potential to coagulate blood cells (Reddy et al., 2012).

1.2.      Statement of the Research Problem

The latex of Jahropha curcas plant is known possess blood clothing properties when applied to fresh wound (Osaniyi and Onajobi, 2003). This work aim at identifying some of the phytochemical that may be responsible for its blood clothing actions.

1.3.      Objective of the Study

The objective of this work is to screen for phytochemicals present in hot water and ethanolic extracts of Jatropha curcas latex.

1.4.      Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study covers sampling of Jatropha curcas latex from Jatropha curcas plant.                   Screening of the latex for various phytochemical present in it using standard methods.     However, this work was only limited to qualitative screening only as the quantitative phytochemical analysis could not be carried out in view of the high cost implications.


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