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Keywords:

  • Desmostachya bipinnata;
  • in vitro;
  • in vivo;
  • calcium channel antagonist;
  • cholinergic

Desmostachya bipinnata, despite of its popular medicinal uses, has not been widely studied for its effect in diarrhea, indigestion, and asthma. The aim of the present investigation was to provide scientific rationale for these applications. The crude aqueous-methanolic extract of D. bipinnata (Db.Cr) was evaluated through in vivo and in vitro experiments. Db.Cr (100–500 mg/kg) protected mice against castor oil–induced diarrhea, similar to loperamide. When tested on gut preparations, Db.Cr produced an atropine-sensitive spasmogenic effect in rabbit jejunum up to 5 mg/mL, followed by a partial relaxation at 10 mg/mL. With atropine preincubation, a verapamil-like inhibitory effect was evident against spontaneous and high K+ (80 mM)–induced contractions. The maximum stimulant effect was comparable with the acetylcholine-induced maximum contraction and was similarly reproducible in guinea pig ileum. Db.Cr inhibited carbachol (1 μM)-induced contraction in rabbit trachea but caused an atropine-sensitive accentuation of high K+–induced contraction at 0.003–0.3 mg/mL followed by inhibition at 1–5 mg/mL. On activity-directed fractionation, inhibitory effect was concentrated on organic and stimulant effect in aqueous fraction. This study, suggesting the presence of calcium antagonist activity, possibly underlying its medicinal effect in hyperactive gut and respiratory disorders, and cholinergic activity, possibly underlying its digestive effect, provides rationale for these therapeutic uses of D. bipinnata. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.