Background: Berberis ceylanica Schneider is an endemic plant to Sri Lanka belonging to the family Berberidaceae. Even though B. ceylanica is used in traditional medicinal systems in Sri Lanka, very few research works has been carried out for this plant. There are no records on detailed pharmacognostic evaluation on Berberis ceylanica, as very few scientific studies were not completed up to now.
Methods: Therefore, aim of the present study was to carry out following experiments using stems of B. ceylanica (a) quantification of berberine content by TLC-densitometric technique (b) antimicrobial activity by well diffusion method against Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes and Candida albicans (c) investigation of antioxidant factors and phytochemical screening.
Results: Hot water extract of B. ceylanica stems contained 4.1 ± 0.3% of berberine and it has shown potent antimicrobial activity against three microorganisms including S. aureus (27.3 ± 1.3 mm), S. pyogenes (26.0 ± 1.0 mm) and C. albicans (20.3 ± 0.3 mm). Furthermore, IC50 of hot water extract of B. ceylanica against DPPH assay was 24.8 ± 0.5 μg/ml. The total phenolic and flavonoid contents were 15.3 ± 0.40 mg gallic acid equivalents/g extract and 10.8 ± 0.20 quercetin acid equivalents/g extract respectively in B. ceylanica. Alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, saponins, cumarins and sterols were present in the hot water extract.
Conclusion: Findings revealed the antimicrobial and antioxidant properties and presence of high content of berberine in hot water extract of B. ceylanica stems for the first time.