Medicinal plants have always played a great role in preventing, controlling and alleviating various disease conditions. Ficus capensis Thunb. (Moraceae) leaves have been reported in literatures to possess anti-diarrhea properties and have been used as such by herbal practitioners in some parts of Benue State, Nigeria. This work examined the preliminary phytochemical constituents of the plant part using standard procedures and also the anti-diarrhea effects of the leaves of the plant in adult mice and albino rats using three models.Preliminary phytochemical screening of the powdered leaves revealed the presence of saponins, steroidal glycosides, flavonoids and tannins. In mice, between 100 - 400 mg/kg (orally administered), the crude aqueous extract of the leaves exhibited a dose-related reduction in the gastrointestinal tract motility as indicated by the distance moved by the charcoal meal. In albino rats, the aqueous extract also displayed significant delay in the onset of stooling, and produced remarkable decrease in the number and weight of stools produced with 100 - 400 mg/kg of the aqueous extract. In the organ bath model, the aqueous extract at concentrations of 50, 100 and 200 mg/ml was observed to have relaxant effects on the isolated rat ileum as it remarkably reduced the ileal contractions occasioned by administration of acetylcholine. The activities of the extract were comparable with that of atropine (0.1 mg/kg). The results of this work validated the claimed use of the leaves of F. capensis in controlling diarrhea among the Igede people of Benue State, Nigeria.
Key words: Ficus capensis, aqueous extract, gastrointestinal motility.
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