Hyraceum (HM) used in traditional medicine in Southern Africa is produced by the herbivore Procavia capensis. It is fossilized excreta derived from urine, faecal matter and plant material. In this study a qualitative phytochemical screening, determination of the in vitro antioxidant activity using the 1, 1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and hydrogen peroxide scavenging methods, and determination of the total phenolic content in the crude methanolic (95%) extract were done. Phytochemical screening detected the major phytochemical classes in the hyraceum extract as terpenoids, saponins, polyphenols, quinones, phlobatannins and coumarins with the minor components as flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, simple phenols, anthocyanins, anthraquinones and amino acids. Total phenolics content was 37.339 mg gallic acid equivalents per gram dry weight (mgGAE/g DW). Effective concentration at 50% (EC50) for HM and L-ascorbic (AA) in DPPH assay was 5.983 and 0.429 µg/ml respectively while in H2O2 scavenging assay EC50 was 5.059 and 1.666 µg/ml, respectively. The antioxidant activity of HM could have been due to the various phenolic and terpenoid antioxidants in the HM. The findings implied that HM was slightly stronger at scavenging H2O2 than at scavenging DPPH. Bioactive compounds in HM could potentially be exploited in further studies as potential antioxidants of therapeutic value.
Key words: Phytochemicals, 1, 1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), hydrogen peroxide.
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