Objective: This study aims at investigating the in vivo antiplasmodial activity of a traditionally used medicinal plant, Withania somnifera, L. Dunal, (Solanaceae).
Methods: Rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei, 0.2 ml of x l0(7) parasites, was inoculated into Swiss albino mice intraperitoneally. Extracts were administered by intra gastric tube daily for four days starting from the day of parasite inoculation. Negative controls received the same amount of solvent used to suspend the exracts and the positive controls were given chloroquine by the same route. Parasite suppressive effect and effects on body weight, packed cell volume (PCV) and body temperature were determined.
Results: Parasitemia percent inhibition of W. somnifera roots and root barks were 50.43% and 29.13% respectively, with 600 mg/kg dose. Inhibition was statistically significant at all dose levels, compared to the negative controls (p < 0.05), and maximum inhibition was seen at 600 mg/kg.
Conclusion: Extracts of the leaves and root barks of W. somnifera showed parasite suppressive effect and a protective effect on PCV drop (at higher doses), both in dose-related fashions. However, the effects on body weight and body temperature falls are inconclusive.