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Three medicinal plants, were investigated based on their ethno-medicinal uses. Byrsocarpus coccineus (B.C), Terminalia avicennioides (T.A) and Anogeissus leiocarpus (A.L) are used traditionally in the treatment of various ailments in Nigeria. Proximate and mineral analyses were carried out on the leaf, stem and root of the three plants. Phytochemical composition and antioxidant activities of the aqueous, ethanol and pet ether (leaf, stem and root) extracts, of the three plants were determined and the extracts were subjected to cytotoxic screening using the in vivo brine shrimp lethality tests. The proximate and mineral analyses show appreciable dietary nutrients in the three plants. Phytochemical analyses of B.C, T.A and A.L (leaf, stem and root) extracts, showed the presence of bioactive compounds, such as alkaloids, tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroid and phenol. Antioxidant activities (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), nitric oxide, lipid peroxidation and reducing power), increase in all the plant extracts in a dose dependent manner. The results of brine shrimp lethality tests indicate that plant extracts of B.C, T.A and A.L except A.L stem aqueous extract (130.72 µg/ml), T.A leaf aqueous (130.15 µg/ml) and root aqueous extracts were moderately cytotoxic, while the others were highly cytotoxic. B. coccineus leaf ethanol extract (17.31 µg/ml) was the most cytotoxic. The result shows that B. coccineus leaf ethanol extract has significant antioxidant activity and is cytotoxic to brine shrimp even at low concentration giving credence to its ethno-medicinal uses.
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