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The oxytocic properties of Luffa cylindrica (L.) M. Roem. and Bidens pilosa L., traditionally used medicinal plants from western Uganda

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The usage of medicinal plants in childbirth in Uganda is a long standing tradition. Over 80% of Ugandan women have childbirth at home and herbal remedies are administered to complete the process of childbirth. The herbs are administered to hasten the labour process (oxytocics), expulsion of retained placenta and control postpartum bleeding. This indigenous knowledge in herbal medicines used during childbirth is not well documented and scientifically validated. The ethnobotanical study was conducted between 2000 and 2003 in Bushenyi and Kasese districts in western Uganda. The aim of this study was to validate the claimed uses of Bidens pilosa L. and Luffa cylindrica (L). M.J. Roem. in inducing labour during childbirths in western Uganda. The in vitro experiments using the rat uterus showed that the aqueous leafy extracts of B. pilosa and L. cylindrica increased rat uterine motility suggesting that they are oxytocics. The aqueous leafy extract of B. pilosa in vitro experiment using the rabbit jejunum further indicated that the extract can cause contraction. The bioactivity of B. pilosa and L. cylindrica is a pointer to the therapeutic uses of herbal remedies in childbirth.
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Keywords: childbirths; medicinal plants; uterine motility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biochemistry, College of Health Sciences, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya 2: Department of Botany, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda 3: Department of Pharmacy, Medical School, Makerere University, PO Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda 4: Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Nairobi, PO Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya

Publication date: 01 December 2007

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