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Cassytha filiformis, a leafless and perennial vine with small scales as a replacement of the leavesis currently being used in the treatment of various disease conditions including jaundice without standardization.Microscopical evaluation, chromatographic analysis (TLC, HPLC, LC-MS/MS), spectroscopic analyses (NMR, FTIR, MS) and hepathoprotective studies were carried out with the view to scientifically verify the potentials of this plant used in traditional medicine. The results revealed the presence of some diagnostic microscopical features such as paracytic stomata, unicellular covering trichomes with cystoliths, prismatic calcium oxalate crystals and annular xylem vessels. Quantitative physical constants include moisture contents (5.5 %), ash value (17 %), acid insoluble ash value (1 %), total tannins (27.3 %), swelling index (165 %), water, alcohol and oil extractive indices (20.6 %, 13.6 % and 1.6 % respectively). Trace metals detected in C. filiformis such as Fe (165.4279 ppm), Mn (14.4093 ppm) and Ni (2.7933 ppm) which are essential were higher than FAO/WHO (1984) permissible limit for edible plants. While others:Pb (0.0568 ppm) Zn (0.1094 ppm), Cd (0.0103 ppm) and Cu (0.0535 ppm) were found to be within the safety limit. Preliminary phytochemical screening of the plant signifies the presence of alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, saponins and steroids Phytochemical constituents identified in ethyl acetate and methanol extracts of C. filiformis include 3,3,O-di-O-methyl ellagic acid, catechin, chalcone compounds, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, isorhamnetin 3-O-rutinoside or isorhamnetin 3-O-neohesperidoside, kaemferol 3 rutinoside and 2-{cyclohex-2-en-1-yl(hydroxyl)methyl}-3-hydroxy-4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-3-methyl- oxoprolinate while that of methanol fraction include 3,3,O-di-O-methyl etllagic acid, methy2-{cyclohex-2-ene-1-y(hydroxyl)methyl}-3hydroxy-4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-3-methyl-5-oxoprolinate, kaemferol 3 rutinoside, rutin and cathechinas revealed by the library search on LC-MS/MS. Other compounds β-sitosterol and stigmasterol wereisolated from petroleum ether extracts.The petroleum ether extract (500 mgkg-1) and methanol (500 and 1000 mgkg-1) exhibited hepatoprotection properties on wistar albino rats. These results could serve as bases for the use of the plant in traditional medicine for the prevention of liver disorders.

1.1 Introduction

The role of plants in the treatment of disease is exemplified by their employment in all the major systems of medicine irrespective of the underlying philosophical premise. As example, we have the western medicine with origin in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Unani (Islamic) and the Ayurvedic (Hindu) system and in Western Asia and the Indian subcontinent and those of the Orient (China, Japan, Tibetetc.). There is a great wealth of knowledge concerning the medicinal,narcotic and other properties of plants that is still transmitted orally from generation to generation by tribal societies, particularly those of the tropical Africa, North and South America and the Pacific countries (Evans, 2009). These are areas containing the world’s greatest number of plant species, not found elsewhere, and with the westernization of so many of the people of these zones there is pressing need to record local knowledge before it is lost forever. In addition, with the extermination of plant species progressing at an alarming rate in certain regions, even before plant have been botanically recorded, much less studied chemically and pharmacologically, the need arises for increased efforts directed towards the conservation of gene pools (Evans, 2009).

Since plant taxa are defined by their morphology (more specifically on the morphology of the flowering parts), identification techniques have relied almost entirely on physical examination of the specimen. However, drying and powdering alters or destroys diagnostic features and the plant parts traded in commerce may not include the parts necessary for establishing botanical identity. Classical description in compendia reflect this approach with physical descriptions that include appearance, color, order, and fracture.

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