Anti-inflammatory activity of selected plants used by the Ilkisonko Maasai, Kenya

Julia Kimondo, Peggoty Mutai, Peter Njogu, Charles Kimwele


Background: The Ilkisonko Maasai are a Kenyan pastoralist community that uses indigenous plants for the management of pain and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to validate the use of plants for medicinal purposes by the Ilkisonko Maasai through testing for anti-inflammatory activity using the carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema assay.

Methodology: The methanol extracts (400 mg/kg body weight) of Rhus natalensis (bark), Acacia drepanolobium (bark), Acacia nilotica (bark), Acacia reficiens (bark), Acacia robusta (bark), Grewia villosa (bark), Ximenia americana (bark and leaves) and Rhus vulgaris (leaves) were evaluated for in vivo anti-inflammatory efficacy using the carrageenan-induced rat paw oedema assay. Diclofenac (20 mg/kg body weight) was used as the positive control and paw volume was measured by a plethysmometer.

Results: The maximum percentage inhibition (PI) of the extracts was observed as Grewia villosa (58.6% at 24 h), Rhus vulgaris (57.8% at 24 h), Acacia nilotica (55.5% at 1 h), Ximenia americana (54.5% at 1 h), Acacia drepanolobium (50.9% at 24 h), Acacia reficiens (47.6% at 1 h), Rhus natalensis (43.8% at 24 h) and Acacia robusta (37.4% at 24 h) (p < 0.05 for all PI). Diclofenac (20 mg/kg) showed a steady increase in PI from 1 h to 4 h with a maximum PI of 66.2% (p < 0.05) at 4 h and the lowest PI of 14.3% at 24 h.

Conclusion: All extracts of the plants assessed exhibited anti-inflammatory activity at early phase of inflammation. Additionally, extracts of five plants, namely Rhus natalensis, Acacia drepanolobium, Acacia robusta, Grewia villosa and Rhus vulgaris showed anti-inflammatory activity at both early and late phases of inflammation. There is need for further studies to identify phytochemicals with active anti-inflammatory activity.

Key words- Ilkisonko Maasai, carrageenan, inflammation, Rhus, Acacia, Grewia and Ximenia


Aboura I, Nani A, Belarbi M, Murtaza B, Fluckiger A, Dumont A, Benammar C, Tounsi MS, Ghiringhelli F, Rialland M, Khan NA and Hichami A (2017). Protective effects of polyphenol-rich infusions from carob (Ceratonia siliqua) leaves and cladodes of Opuntia ficus-indica against inflammation associated with diet-induced obesity and dss-induced colitis in swiss mice. Biomed. Pharmacother. 96: 1022-1035.

Adedapo AA, Sofidiya MO, Masika PJ and Afolayan AJ (2008). Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of the aqueous extract of Acacia karroo stem bark in experimental animals. Basic Clin. Pharmacol. Toxicol. 103: 397–400.

Ahmadu A, Abdulkarim A, Grougnet R, Myrianthopoulos V, Tillequin F, Magiatis P and Skaltsounis AL (2010). Two new peltogynoids from Acacia nilotica Delile with kinase inhibitory activity. Planta Med. 76: 458-460.

BenSaad LA, Kim KH, Quah CC, Kim WR and Shahimi M (2017). Anti-inflammatory potential of ellagic acid, gallic acid and punicalagin A and B isolated from Punica granatum. BMC Complement. Altern. Med. 17: 47.

Dafallah AA and Al-Mustafa Z (1996). Investigation of the anti-Inflammatory activity of Acacia nilotica and Hibiscus sabdariffa. Am. J. Chin. Med. 24: 263-9.

Davies NM and Anderson KE (1997). Clinical pharmacokinetics of diclofenac. Clin. Pharmacokinet.. 33:184-213.

Eldeen IM, van Heerden FR and van Staden J (2010). In vitro biological activities of niloticane, a new bioactive cassane diterpene from the bark of Acacia nilotica subsp. Kraussiana. J Ethnopharmacol. 128: 555-60.

Fernandes I, Pérez-Gregorio R, Soares S, Mateus N, De Freitas V, Santos-Buelga C and San Feliciano A (2017). Wine flavonoids in health and disease prevention. Molecules. 22: 292.

Fernando AN, Fernando LP, Fukuda Y and Kaplan AP (2005). Assembly, activation, and signaling by kinin-forming proteins on human vascular smooth muscle cells. Am. J. Physiol. Heart Circ. Physiol. 289: H251-H257.

Ganga RB, Madhu KP and Vijaya RA (2012). Investigation of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of leaves of Dalbergia paniculata (Roxb). Asian Pac. J. Trop. Med. 5: 455–58.

Johns T, Mahunnah RL, Sanaya P, Chapman L and Ticktin T (1999). Saponins and phenolic content in plant dietary additives of a traditional subsistence community, the Batemi of Ngorongoro district, Tanzania. J. Ethnopharmacol. 66: 1–10.

Juthani VV, Clearfield E and Chuck RS (2017). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs versus corticosteroids for controlling inflammation after uncomplicated cataract surgery. Cochrane Database of Syst. Rev. 7: CD010516.

Kimondo J, Miaron J, Mutai P and Njogu P (2015). Ethnobotanical survey of food and medicinal plants of the Ilkisonko Maasai community in Kenya. J. Ethnopharmacol. 175: 463–69.

Kimondo J, Mutai P, Njogu P and Kimwele C (2019). Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of nine plants used medicinally by the Ilkisonko Maasai community of Kenya. Free Rad. Antiox. 9: 29–34.

Meshram GG, Kumar A, Rizvi W, Tripathi CD and Khan RA (2016). Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory activity of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the leaves of Albizzia lebbeck in rats. J. Trad. Complement. Med. 6: 172–75.

Mulaudzi RB, Ndhlala AR, Kulkarni MG, Finnie JF and Van Staden J (2013). Anti-inflammatory and mutagenic evaluation of medicinal plants used by Venda people against venereal and related diseases. J. Ethnopharmacol. 146: 173-179.

Muthu R, Selvaraj N and Vaiyapuri M (2016). Anti-inflammatory and proapoptotic effects of umbelliferone in colon carcinogenesis. Hum. Exp. Toxicol. 35: 1041-1054

Souza Neto Júnior JC, Estevão LRM, Ferraz AA, Simões RS, Vieira MGF and Evêncio-Neto J (2019). Ointment of Ximenes americana promotes acceleration of wound healing in rats. Acta Circ. Bras. 34: e201900307.

Odongo E, Mungai N, Mutai P, Karumi E, Mwangi J, Okalebo F, Kimondo J, Omale J and Simiyu J (2017). Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of selected medicinal plants from Western Kenya. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 6: 178–82.

Patrono C and Baigent C (2014). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the heart. Circ. 129: 907-916.

Paviaya US, Kumar P, Wanjari MM, Thenmozhi S and Balakrishnan BR (2013). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity of root bark of Grewia asiatica Linn. in rodents. Anc. Sci. Life. 32: 150-155.

González CP, Vega RS, González-Chávez M, Sánchez MA and Gutiérrez SP (2013). Anti-inflammatory activity and composition of Senecio salignus Kunth. BioMed Res. Int. 2013:814693.

Sakat SS, Mani K, Demidchenko YO, Gorbunov EA, Tarasov SA, Mathur A and Epstein OI (2014). Release-active dilutions of diclofenac enhance anti-inflammatory effect of diclofenac in carrageenan-induced rat paw edema model. Inflammation 37: 1-9.

Schweitzer A, Hasler-Nguyen N and Zijlstra J (2009). Preferential uptake of the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac into inflamed tissues after a single oral dose in rats. BMC Pharmacol. 9:5.

Silva-Leite KES Da, Assreuy AMS, Laryssa F, Damasceno ML, De Queiroz GR, Mourão PAS, Pires AF and Pereira MG (2017). Polysaccharide rich fractions from barks of Ximenia americana inhibit peripheral inflammatory nociception in mice: Antinociceptive effect of Ximenia americana polysaccharide rich fractions. Rev. Bras. Farmacogn. 27: 339–45.

Warrington R, Watson W, Kim HL and Antonetti FR (2011). An introduction to immunology and immunopathology. Allergy, Asthma Clin. Immunol. 7:S1.

Xu F, Yang L, Huang X, Liang Y, Wang X and Wu H (2019). Lupenone is a good anti-inflammatory compound based on the network pharmacology. Mol. Divers. 24: 21-30.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.