The chemical composition and membrane stability activity of some herbs used in local therapy for anemia

J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Oct 31;102(1):15-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2005.04.034.


The chemical composition and the membrane stabilizing activity of the decoctions of the dry Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn. (Malvaceae) calyx (Sobo in a Nigerian language), Theobroma cacao Linn. (N.O. Sterculiaceae) root (cocoa) and the dry stalk of white and red cultivars of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench (Poaceae) were determined. These herbs are often used locally for the management of anemia. Ash content was from 3.5 to 7.2%, tannin 7-46 mg/kg catechin equivalent, ascorbic acid content 250-625 mg/kg and total anthocyanin 57-150 mg/kg cyanidin-3-glucoside equivalent. Phytate was not detected in any sample but alkaloids and saponins were present except in Sobo. The decoctions contained 0.2-2.0% of the herbs' total tannin content while the pH was 3.2-6.7. Iron and zinc content was highest in Sobo while Theobroma cacao root contained the highest calcium and magnesium. Solubility and mineral availability were highest in the decoction of Sobo and lowest but available in Theobroma cacao root decoction. The decoction of Theobroma cacao exhibited a high membrane stabilizing activity while those of Sorghum bicolor and Hibiscus sabdariffa were only average. The study indicated that the herbal decoctions could provide some minerals and also help to stabilize the red blood cells from stress injury.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Cattle
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Iron / analysis
  • Magnesium / analysis
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Nigeria
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Zinc / analysis


  • Minerals
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Calcium