NAGPUR: Researcher from the Botany Department at Nagpur University has extracted and purified certain pharmacologically and bioactive phytosterols (plant-based cholesterols) from wild plants which can potentially counter the activity of animal cholesterol in human beings.
The researcher, Pradnya Anasane, has also identified edible seeds of certain vegetables and fruits, which too can control hyperlipidemia (excess of fats and lipids). The researcher claims that phytosterols can act as herbal medicines and replace the synthetic drugs used for reducing cholesterol.
Anasane carried out the research as part of her doctoral degree under guidance of Prof Alka Chaturvedi. “Of the 20 wild plants we screened, phytosterols could be extracted from eight plants. We not only isolated the phytosterols but also purified them, conducted structural analysis and tried them on rats. We got good results,” said Chaturvedi.
Chaturvedi further said, “Besides possessing anti-hyperlipidima property, the plant extracts were also found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.”
Anasane said phytosterols are naturally found in vegetable products like oils but they are also present in pulses and dried fruits. “The use of food containing phytosterols is a relatively recent development in human nutrition. Phytosterols play a major role in functional foods. Their ability to reduce serum cholesterol in humans has been widely proven. They also enhance the immune system and reduce risk of certain cancers,” she said.
Research has found that seeds of pomegranate, watermelon, flax, soyabean, sunflower, fenugreek (methi), sesame, cumin, parwal, Indian round gourd and pumpkin possess anti-cholesterol properties. These seeds can be used as food supplements.
The extracts from wild plants Cullen corylifolia (Babchi), Bombax ceiba (Shalmali), Ficus hispida (Kala umber), Nerium indicium (Kaner), Cascabella thevetia (Yellow oleander), Plumeria rubra (Chameli), Solanum virginianum (Kantakari) were found to have anti-hyperlilidimia properties.
Anasane said that these plants with many therapeutic properties can be claimed for novel drug formation with the advantages and applications of phytosterols. These plants are otherwise toxic for consumption directly but contain certain phytoconstituents, including phytosterols, can be isolated and employed to formulate drugs. “The extracts of two plants Ficus hispida and Cascabella thevetia were selectively tried for anti-hyperlipidemic activity on rats. These rats were first fed with high fat diet to increase their cholesterol levels. Both plant extracts have shown a significant activity in doses (150 mg/kg and 300 mg/kg) when compared with the activity of standard drug Finofibrate,” said Anasane.