Anecdotal evidence of two South African Geranium species (Pelargonium reniforme and Pelargonium sidoides) from the United Kingdom with regard to plants being used against tuberculosis, which lacked scientific evidence’ prompted us to investigate these two plants for their antimicrobial properties. The German herbal remedy (‘Umckaloabo’) is prepared from these two plant species and is currently being sold for bronchitis. Acetone, chloroform and ethanol extracts were investigated against three bacteria (pathogens causing bronchitis), three fungi (fungal species associated with the upper and lower respiratory tract) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This is the first report on the extracts’ activity against Moraxella catarrhalis, and three fungi (Asperigilus niger, Rhizopus stolonifer and Fusarium oxysporum). Acetone and ethanol root extracts of P. sidoides and its combination with P. reniforme exhibited activity against bacteria at 5.0 mg/ml concentration. The fungi were significantly inhibited by the acetone and ethanol extracts of P. reniforme and the ethanol extract of P. sidoides at a concentration of 5.0 mg/ml. Antituberculosis activity was observed on acetone, chloroform and ethanol root extract of P. reniforme and chloroform extract of P. sidoides at 5.0 mg/ml concentration. The isolation and purification of compounds were attempted using two different approaches, of which the second approach resulted in isolation of four compounds and two flavonoids. One flavonoid (epigallocatechin) is isolated for the first time from P. sidoides. Laboratory investigations showed no activity of compounds isolated against M. tuberculosis. As Mycobacteria are intracellular pathogens, antimycobacterial activities may be due to either direct or indirect effects. Though the compounds in this study did not show antituberculosis activity, it can be speculated that the anecdotal evidence of TB-patients could be due to their immunostimulant activity.
Dissertation (MSc (Plant Physiology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.