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Piliostigmathonningii is one of the African plants with numerous medicinal values in ethnomedicine. It belongs to the family of Fabaceae and can be used for treating ailments like loose stooling in teething children, wound dressing, ulcer treatment, worms’ infestation, hemorrhoids, inflammations, bacterial infections, gonorrhea, stomach ache and headache. This study probed the chemical constituents and antimicrobial properties of the leaf and seed of P. thonningii. Qualitative phytochemical screening of the leaf and seed extracts of the plant showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, terpenes, steroids, glycosides, and phenols.The quantitative aspect of the leaf showed that the alkaloid content was 15.5 %, tannins 10.2 %, saponins 9.6 %, flavonoids 4.3 %, terpenes 15.2 %, steroids 16.9 % and Phenols 12.9 %. The seed contained alkaloid 6.2%, tannins 4.2 %, saponins 4.8 %, flavonoids 2.5 %, terpenes 15.9 %, steroids 13.3 % and phenols 7.9 %. The vitamins detected in the leaf included Beta-carotene (10.428±0.000 mg/100g), ascorbic acid (13.432±0.020 mg/100g), riboflavin (3.412±0.035 mg/100g), niacin (0.941±0.000 mg/100g), thiamin (2.424±0.002 mg/100g) while that of the seed included Beta-carotene (5.349±0.013 mg/100g), ascorbic acid (8.4±0.040 mg/100g), riboflavin (0.640±0.000 mg/100g), niacin (0.0131±0.000 mg/100g) and thiamin (0.431±0.0031 mg/100g). The mineral compositions detected in the leaf included calcium (2413.02±0.001 mg/100g), magnesium (908±0.003 mg/100g), potassium (1103.04±0.023 mg/100g), sodium (53.01±0.018 mg/100g), phosphorus (46.24±0.000 mg/100g), nitrogen (1842.03±0.002 mg/100g), iron (16.31±0.000 mg/100g), zinc (0.243±0.001 mg/100g) and copper (0.001±0.000 mg/100g), while that of the seed included calcium (2010.34±0.006 mg/100g), magnesium (728.84±0.023 mg/100g), potassium (1004.02±0.011 mg/100g), sodium (38.03±0.061 mg/100g), phosphorus (20.02±0.001 mg/100g), nitrogen (785.01±0.003 mg/100g), iron (2.02±0.001 mg/100g), zinc (0.01±0.000 mg/100g) and copper (0.01±0.000 mg/100g). The GC-MS results of the chloroform extract of the leaf at different retention times showed a promising result of 17 probable structures with 14 of them, having medicinal values. In the same vein, the seed showed 9 probable structures with 7 of them having medicinal values. The antimicrobial activities of the chloroform extract of the leaf and seed were studied using hospital isolates of five pathogenic microorganisms. Its activity at a varying concentrations of 150 mg/ml, 75 mg/ml, 50mg/ml, 25 mg/ml, 12.5 mg/ml and 6.25 mg/ml was investigated againstS.aereus, B. cereus, E. coli, S. typhiand P.aeruginosa using agar well diffusion method. The result showed that the extract of the leaf exhibited activity against three micro-organisms in a concentration-dependent pattern, with the highest growth inhibition seen in S. aereus and the lowest growth in S. typhi with MIC of 25 mg/ml and 75 mg/ml respectively while the seed showed inhibition activity against two microorganisms in a concentration-dependent manner, with the highest growth inhibition seen in S. aereus and the lowest growth in E. coli with MIC of 50 mg/ml and 75 mg/ml respectively. The result of this research work revealed that P. thonningii has a lot of phytochemicals which might be responsible for its therapeutic potentials in ethnomedicine. 



Title Page                                                                                                                                i

Declaration                                                                                                                              ii

Certification                                                                                                                            iii

Dedication                                                                                                                              iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                                                  v

Table of Content                                                                                                                     vi

List of Tables                                                                                                                          ix

List of Plates                                                                                                                           x

Abstract                                                                                                                                  xi




1.1   Background of the Study                                                                                               1

1.2   Statement of the Problem                                                                                               3

1.3   Scope of the Study                                                                                                         3

1.4   Justification of Research                                                                                                 4

1.5   Aim and Objectives                                                                                                        4




2.1       Origin and geographical distribution of piliostigmathonningii                                   5

2.2       Botanical Classification                                                                                              5

2.3       Description of the Plant                                                                                              6

2.4       Economic and cultural values of P. Thonningii                                                          10

2.5       The Family ‘Fabaceae’                                                                                               10

2.6       Phytochemicals                                                                                                           11

2.6.1.   Phenols                                                                                                                        11

2.6.2    Saponins                                                                                                                      12

2.6.3.   Steroids                                                                                                                       13

2.6.4    Tannins                                                                                                                        14

2.6.5    Flavonoids                                                                                                                  15

2.6.6        Some of the compounds isolated from p.thonningi are as follows.                            16

2.8    Ethnomedical uses of PiliostigmaThonningii                                                    19

2.9       Pharmacological activities Of Piliostigmathonningii                                      21

2.9.1    Anti-malaria activity of P.thonningii                                                                         21

2.9.2     Anti-Ulcer potential of piliostigmathonningii                                                            21

2.9.3      Piliostigmathonningii as a Remedy to Cardiovascular Complications and Associated Conditions                          22

2.9.4    Anti-diabetic Property of Piliostigmathonningii                                                    Leaf Extract of Piliostigmathonningii             22

2.10     Mass spectrometry                                                                    23

2.11     Gas chromatography                                                                 23

2.12     Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry                   24




3.1       Sample Collection and Identification                                                                         26

3.2       Sample Preparation                                                                                                     26

3.3       Sample Extraction                                                                                                       26

3.4       Qualitative Phytochemical Analysis                                                                           27

3.4.1   Test for alkaloids (Mayer’s test)                                                                                 28

3.4.2   Test for tannins                                                                                                           28

3.4.3   Test for saponins                                                                                                         28

3.4.4    Test for flavonoids                                                                                                      28

3.4.5    Tests for steroids and terpenoids (Liebermann-Burchard test)                                  29

3.4.6    Test for glycosides (Kella-Killian's test)                                                                     29

3.5       Quantitative phytochemical analysis                                                                          29

3.5.1    Determination of Alkaloids                                                                                        29

3.4.2.  Determination of flavonoids                                                                                       30

3.4.3   Determination of Phenols                                                                                           21

3.4.4   Determination of saponins                                                                                          32

3.4.4   Determination of tannins                                                                                            32

3.4.6   Determination of Terpenes                                                                                         33

3.4.7    Determination of Steroids                                                                                          34

3.5      Determination of Vitamin content                                                                              35

3.5.1    Determination of ascorbic acid                                                                                   35

3.5.2    Determination of niacin                                                                                              36

3.5.3    Determination of riboflavin                                                                                        37

3.5.4    Determination of thiamin                                                                                            37

3.5.5    Determination of β-carotene                                                                                       38

3.6       Determination of mineral content                                                                               38

3.6.1    Determination of nitrogen content                                                                             38

3.7       GC/MS Analysis

3.8       Antimicrobial screening of piliostigmathonningii leaf and seed chloroform extract 40

3.8.1    Obtaining and confirming the test organism                                                              40

3.8.2    Anti-bacterial susceptibility test                                                                                 41

3.8.3    Determination of minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)                                      41




4.1       Phytochemical screening results                                                                                 44

4.2       Vitamin content results                                                                                               48

4.3       Mineral content results                                                                                                50

4.4       GC/MS results

4.5       Antimicrobial assay results                                                                                         58




5.1       Conclusion                                                                                                                  62

5.2       Recommendations                                                                                                      62






4.1   Qualitative phytochemical screening of chloroform leaves extract of P. thonningii      44

4.2   Qualitative phytochemical screening of chloroform Seed extract of P. thonningii       45

4.3   Quantitative phytochemical screenings of chloroform leave extract of P.thonningii     45       

4.4   Quantitative phytochemical screenings of chloroform seed extract of P.thonningii      46       

4.5 Quantitative determination of vitamin content of P. thonningii leaf extract                   47

4.6   Quantitative determination of vitamin content of P. thonningii Seed extract               48

4.7   Quantitative determinations of mineral content of the leaves and seeds of

P.thonningii                                                                                                                             49       

4.8   GCMS analysis Result on the chloroform Leaf extract of P.thonningii                         50

4.6 GCMS analysis Result on the chloroform Seed Extract of P.thonningii             50

4.8   Zones of growth inhibition at varying concentrations of chloroform extract of P. thonningiileaf against the test organism. Zones of inhibition                                                   51

4.9  Susceptibility test in mm on the standard drugs on the microorganisms             52

4.10   Zones of growth inhibition at varying concentrations of chloroform extract of P. thonningiiseed against test organism zones of inhibitions.                                                       53

4.11  Minimum inhibitory concentration of chloroform leaf extract of P.thonningii 54

4.12 Minimum inhibitory concentration of chloroform seed extract of P.thonningii 55




1: Whole plant of Piliostigmathonningii(

2: Leaves of Piliostigmathonningii ( P. thonningii)                    8

3: Fruit and seeds of Piliostigmathonningii ( thonningii)       9                                                               









The use of plants as drugs can be seen as being as old as man himself. The medicinal plants include various types of plants used in herbalism and some of these plants have medicinal activities. Medicinal plants are considered as rich sources of ingredients that can be used in drug development and synthesis. Besides, these plants play crucial roles in the development of human and cultural values around the world. Also, some of these plants are considered as important sources of nutrients and as a result of that, are recommended for their therapeutic values (Rasool, 2012).

Many cultures throughout the world still rely on indigenous medicinal plants for their primary health care needs (Franswort et al., 1985). To date, 25% of modern medicines are derived from plants that have been used by traditional medicine practitioners. About 200 years ago, the first pharmacological compound, “morphine “was produced from the poppy flower. Since then, scientists have been studying plants to create the pharmaceutical products that we have been using today (Cragg anred Newman, 2005).

Millions of dollars have recently been invested in looking for promising medicinal herbs. Even though there have been substantial investments in traditional herbal medicine, it is still relatively modest when compared to the overall pharmaceutical industries, but it proves that researches are beginning to steer away from conventional drug development and is now looking inwards to alternative and natural forms of treatments (Lai and Roy, 2004).

Natural products have been used throughout human history for various purposes. Today, plants are being used to treat several health concerns and these herbs are less expensive and safer means of treatment than some conventional medications, which is why so many people are choosing to go back to this traditional idea of medications. A major hypothetical advantage of herbal medicines is the presence of multiple active compounds that together can provide a potentiating effect that may not be achievable by any single compound. This advantage presents a unique challenge for the separation and identification of active constituents. Most of the compounds that are identified by (activity guided) fractionation must be tested in appropriate animal or other scientific models to confirm their activities (Rousseaux and Schachter, 2003). 

Herbal medicine is now globally accepted as a valid alternative system of therapy in the form of pharmaceuticals, food supplements, nutraceuticals, complementary and alternative medicines. These medicinal herbs contain many active principles that are used to treat diseases and relieve symptoms. Herbal medicine uses the plants' seeds, berries, roots, leaves, barks or flowers for medicinal purposes. The biological properties of these plants have beneficial effects. Other factors are also responsible for their benefits as well, such as the type of environment in which they are harvested and how they are processed. The plants are either sold raw or as extracts, where they are macerated with water, alcohol or other solvents to extract some of the chemicals. The resulting products contain dozens of the chemical, like fatty acids, steroids, alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, etc (Khanna et al., 1986).

Secondary metabolites are organic compounds that are not directly involved in normal growth, development or reproduction of an organism. Secondary metabolites often play an important role in defense against herbivores (Stamp, 2003). 

Human uses secondary metabolites as medicines, flavoring and recreational drugs (Prajapati et al., 2003). Nigeria is one of the countries in the world that is blessed with a lot of medicinal plants in which Pilliostigmathonningii is one of them.


Different parts of Piliostigma thonningii have been used for medicinal purposes for the treatment of ailments like dysentery, fever, respiratory ailments, snake bites, hookworm and skin infections in Eastern parts of Nigeria. The leaves and seeds have been reported in the literature to have age-long folkloric use in traditional medicine especially in the treatment of malaria, wounds, ulcer, gingivitis, fever, hemorrhoids, and backache.

This plant could be used for the treatment of the above ailments because of the bioactive compounds present in it. But from literature, little work has been done to identify all the bioactive components available in the leaves and seeds of the plant. Hence, the chemical studies on the leaves and seeds of the plant as well as their antimicrobial potencies are herein reported. 


Piliostigma thonningii from literature has been proven to have medicinal values. The leaves, seeds, root and the stem have phytochemical components in them, but this work is limited to research on the leaves and the seeds of P. thonningii


This study will provide a database for the phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals present, as well as the antimicrobial activities of the leaves and seeds of P. thonningii.



This study aims to identify the bioactive components available in the leaves and seeds of Piliostigmathonningii. This aim will be achieved through the following specific objectives.

        i.            To isolate and spectroscopically characterize the bioactive components available in the leaves of P. thonningii..

      ii.            To identify some of the compounds present in the leaves and seeds of the plants using GC- MS. 

  1. To quantitatively determine some of the phytochemical constituents of the leaves and seeds of the plant.
  2. To determine some vitamins and minerals present in the leaves and seeds of the plant.   
  3. To establish the anti-microbial properties of the leaves and seeds of the plant.


Piliostigma Thonningi, a commonly grown plant in Nigeria has been known for its ethno-medicinal use by different cultural groups in Nigeria and some other parts of Africa and Asia. This claim have been supported by various researches done on the plant to extract and isolate some of its bioactive constituents via various solvent media such as water, ethanol and methanol. The bioactive properties of these constituents have been tested against some pathogenic microorganisms such as Staphylococcus Aereus, Escherichia Coli, Salmonella Typhii, Vibrio Cholera, and Candida Spp and so on.

This study investigates the chemical composition and the antimicrobial studies of the chloroform extracts of the leaves and seeds of P. Thonningi. The isolation of a possible novel compound from the chloroform extracts of both leaves and seed is expected and its bioactive properties studies.


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