Anti-microbial activity and anti-complement activity of extracts obtained from selected Hawaiian medicinal plants.
Selected plants having a history of use in Polynesian traditional medicine for the treatment of infectious disease were investigated for anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity in vitro. Extracts from Scaevola sericea, Psychotria hawaiiensis, Pipturus albidus and Eugenia malaccensis showed selective anti-viral activity against Herpes Simplex Virus-1 and 2 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus. Aleurites moluccana extracts showed anti-bacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, while Pipturus albidus and Eugenia malaccensis extracts showed growth inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Psychotria hawaiiensis and Solanum niger inhibited growth of the fungi Microsporum canis, Trichophyton rubrum and Epidermophyton floccosum, while Ipomoea sp., Pipturus albidus, Scaevola sericea, Eugenia malaccensis, Piper methysticum, Barringtonia asiatica and Adansonia digitata extracts showed anti-fungal activity to a lesser extent. Eugenia malaccensis was also found to inhibit the classical pathway of complement suggesting that an immunological basis for its in vivo activity was identified. This study has confirmed some of the ethnobotanical reports of Hawaiian medicinal plants having curative properties against infections using biological assays in vitro.