Unveiling the anti-seizure effect of medicinal herbs in Malawi by internationally collaborative project

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Epilepsy is a prevalent neurological disorder, and treated successfully in most cases with anti-seizure drugs (ASDs) available world-wide. However, in Africa, the treatment is limited due to the barriers such as distance to and cost of traveling to health facilities and access to newer generation ASDs. Similarly in Malawi, epilepsy is believed to be best treated by home remedies or traditional medicines. Despite the frequent use in African countries, pharmacological effect of traditional medicines such as medicinal herbs remains elusive.

Title: Anti-seizure effects of medicinal plants in Malawi on pentylenetetrazole-induced seizures in zebrafish larvae

Authors: Mayeso Naomi Victoria Gwedela, Haruhi Terai, Fanuel Lampiao, Katsuyoshi Matsunami, Hidenori Aizawa

Journal: J Ethnopharmacol (2021) in press [Link]

We applied the herbal extracts to the zebrafish model of seizure in which convulsion was induced by the chemical disinhibiting the neural activity. Among the herbs we examined, the study identified M. discoidea male leaves, D. boehmii roots, and D. nitidula leaves showed significant anti-seizure effects in the primary screen and were selected for further study. Electrophysiological and immediate early gene analyses corroborated anti-seizure effect of D. boehmii and D. nitidula. The results of c-fos protein expression further suggested that the anti-seizure effects in the larval brain may be mediated by the suppression of neurons localized in midbrain regions.

We hope to extend this study to identify the compound responsible for the anti-seizure effect in near future.

Hidenori Aizawa
Hidenori Aizawa

Principal investigator in Neurobiology lab in Hiroshima. His research interests include brain machinery underlying the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Mayeso Naomi Gwedela
Mayeso Naomi Gwedela

Ms. Gwedela comes from Malawi and is interested in medicinal herbs for the treatment of epileptic patients.