Cordillera plants found effective vs antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Posted 3 years ago

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MANILA, Philippines — Four indigenous plants found in the Cordillera Administrative Region were confirmed to have medicinal properties that could be used as alternative to commercially available antibiotics.

Enzymes extracted from four folkloric herbal plants were found to be effective against a type of multi-resistant bacteria that can cause pneumonia and bloodstream infection, a study conducted by researchers from the University of the Philippines-Baguio revealed.

Discovered with medicinal properties were Nepenthes alata, a pitcher plant locally known as kakallong; Bauhinia purpurea or butterfly tree; Ficus septica or tibig, and Melastoma malabathricum or bakgi.

The four were among 13 indigenous plants tested for medicinal properties by introducing them to pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria that has a rapid ability to develop resistance to multiple classes of antibiotics.

“Preliminary results of this investigation proved that these indigenous folkloric plants indeed have medicinal purposes,” read the paper published in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge earlier this year.

“Their bioactive compounds can be used as an alternative to the commercially available antibiotics since they can significantly control the growth of the multi-resistant P. aeruginosa,” it added.

Considered as vital to the medical field due to its rapid ability to develop resistance to antibiotics, the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a leading pathogen among patients with lung diseases.

It is also known to contribute to bloodstream infection, accounting for high patient mortality rate.

In their study, biologists Charlotte Elmido, Kryssa Balangcod and Teodora Balangcod used various parts of 13 indigenous plants to test their anti-bacterial capabilities.

Most effective were enzymes extracted from the stems of tibig plant found on Mt. Polis in Mountain Province, followed by the leaves of butterfly tree from Sablan in Benguet.

The researchers said tibig contains enzymes known to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, while the butterfly tree has potential bioactive compounds that can inhibit the harmful bacteria.

Meanwhile, pitcher fluid extracted from kakallong, also found on Mt. Polis, confirmed a previous study that showed antibacterial properties of the plant.

Ointment made from enzymes extracted from leaves of bakgi, from Atok in Benguet, also showed wound healing properties, with the bioactive compounds effective in blocking or reducing pain.

In their paper, the researchers underscored the unexplored diversity of indigenous plants in the Cordillera and their potential in the field of pharmaceuticals and medicine.

“Thirteen plants tested is just a small representative of the highly diverse and unexplored indigenous plants of Cordillera region,” read the paper.

“It is recommended that more plants in the region will be studied to discover useful plant species that have novel antibacterial compounds to attenuate bacterial pathogenicity,” it added.

Tested but found ineffective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa were enzymes extracted from the stems of agayap di nuang (Drynaria cordata).

Also tested were leaves from bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus), mango (Mangifera indica), malatabako (Elephantopus mollis), ro-ot (Dicranopteris linearis), purple top (Verbena bonariensis), sabfog (Ficus minahassae), puriket or burburtak (Ageratum conyzoides) and coffee (Coffea robusta).



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