Bacopa monniera L. (family Scrophulariaceae) (BM) is an Ayurvedic medicine, clinically used for memory enhancing, epilepsy, insomnia and as a mild sedative. In this work, the free radical scavenging capacity of a methanol extract of BM and the effect on DNA cleavage induced by H2O2 UV-photolysis was investigated. In addition, we examined whether this plant extract is capable of reducing the hydrogen peroxide-induced cytotoxicity and DNA damage in human non-immortalized fibroblasts. It showed a dose-dependent free radical scavenging capacity and a protective effect on DNA cleavage. These results were confirmed by a significant protective effect on H2O2-induced cytoxicity and DNA damage in human non-immortalized fibroblasts. The antioxidant capacity of BM may explain, at least in part, the reported antistress, immunomodulatory, cognition-facilitating, antiinflammatory and antiaging effects produced by it in experimental animals and in clinical situations and may justify further investigation of its other beneficial properties. Moreover, this experimental evidence suggests that because of its antioxidant activity, this Ayurvedic drug may be useful in the treatment of human pathologies in which free radical production plays a key role.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.