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Planta Med. 2005 Jan;71(1):20-3.

In vivo antimalarial activity of essential oils from Cymbopogon citratus and Ocimum gratissimum on mice infected with Plasmodium berghei.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon.


The essential oils obtained by hydrodistillation from fresh leaves of Cymbopogon citratus and Ocimum gratissimum growing in Cameroon were analyzed by GC and GC/MS. The main constituents of the oil of Ocimum gratissimum were gamma-terpinene (21.9 %), beta-phellandrene (21.1 %), limonene (11.4 %) and thymol (11.2 %), while the oil of Cymbopogon citratus contained geranial (32.8 %), neral (29.0 %), myrcene (16.2 %) and beta-pinene (10.5 %). The effects of these oils on the growth of Plasmodium berghei were investigated. Both oils showed significant antimalarial activities in the four-day suppressive in vivo test in mice. At concentrations of 200, 300 and 500 mg/kg of mouse per day, the essential oil of C. citratus produced the highest activity with the respective percentages of suppression of parasitaemia: 62.1 %, 81.7 % and 86.6 %. The corresponding values for the oil of O. gratissimum at the same concentrations were 55.0 %, 75.2 % and 77.8 %, respectively. Chloroquine (10 mg/kg of mouse, positive control) had a suppressive activity of 100 %.

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