Day 2 :
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) | Phytochemical Studies of Plants and Plant Extracts
National University of Singapore, Singapore
Melissa Zermit Namchu is a doctoral candidate at the National University of Singapore and the University of Edinburgh, a joint degree programme. She comes from a multi-disciplinary background, with tranings in Political Science (BA, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata), Social Work (MA, TISS, Mumbai) and Planning and Development (M.Phil, IIT-Bombay). She has been working on the Lepcha community for many years and is very keen about ethnographic methods. Her M.Phil thesis was based on the relation between the Lepcha community and organic farming in Sikkim.
This paper deals with the complexity of caregiving and health-seeking behaviour among the indigenous Lepcha people. Indigenous societies are viewed as a homogenous entity but the case of the Lepchas has been very different as historical factors have divided the community along territorial and religious lines. This division in the community has led to complexity in health-seeking behaviour which provides me with a platform to understand how the model of dominative medical system functions in a Lepcha society. Hence, the study will be seen against a background of medical pluralism and a time when the Lepchas are dealing with political mayhems which are steered by the demand for an ethnic homeland by the immigrant Nepalis, that they are super-imposing on the Lepcha land, and has today, left the Lepchas to an insignificant minority. My aim is not to undertake a polarised study- whether traditional medicine works or not, but to understand the empirical reality of the complex health-seeking behaviour. To comprehend how traditional medicine survives and how the title of the ‘great-ethnobotanical practitioners’ is upheld by the community. One of the key aims of this study is to understand the role and knowledge of medicine men and how they position themselves in a medically pluralistic society. Known to possess rich ethnobotanical knowledge of the flora and fauna found in the eastern Himalayan belt, the Lepchas have in the recent years been termed as a 'Vanishing tribe'. Now reduced to the status of a minority in terms of population, the number of local medicine men too have been steadily declining. However, the 'Vanishing' status has alarmed many leaders- political as well as social elites, who today are taking steps to promote and revive the age-old practice. Steps are also being taken to bridge the differences that are existent within the community spread over two different states of West Bengal and Sikkim in North East India- to establish a pan Lepcha identity. Nevertheless, the penetration of developmental activities in towns and villages have posed many new challenges in keeping up with traditional practices- especially in the health sector.
I have approached this study from the perspective of medical anthropology- a subfield of anthropology- by using anthropological theories and methods to questions about health, illness and healing. Ethnomedicine- the study of traditional practices- that uses ethnography of health and healing behaviour in the Lepcha society forms a major component of this study.
Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore
Hong Yang has completed her PhD in 2010 from Pharmacy department of National University of Singapore. She worked as an analytical chemist in a biotechnology company for two years before she joined Temasek Polytechnic as a lecturer. In her past five years working in Temasek Polytechnic, she has been awarded a researh grant from Ministry of Education to pursue her resesarch interest in utlizing advanced analytical instrument to evaluate the efficacy of ingredients present in food/herbal matrices.
In this work, we established a new methodology to simultaneously assess the relative reaction rates of multiple antioxidant compounds in one experimental set-up. This new methodology hypothesizes that the competition among antioxidant compounds towards limiting amount of free radical (in this article, DPPH) would reflect their relative reaction rates. In contrast with the conventional detection of DPPH decrease at 515 nm on a spectrophotometer, depletion of antioxidant compounds treated by a series of DPPH concentrations was monitored instead using liquid chromatography coupled with quadrupole time-of-flight (LC-QTOF). A new parameter, namely relative antioxidant activity (RAA), has been proposed to rank these antioxidants according to their reaction rate constants. We have investigated the applicability of RAA using pre-mixed standard phenolic compounds, and also extended this application to two food products, i.e. red wine and green tea. It has been found that RAA correlates well with the reported k values. This new parameter, RAA, provides a new perspective in evaluating antioxidant compounds present in food and herbal matrices. It not only realistically reflects the antioxidant activity of compounds when co-existing with competitive constituents; and it could also quicken up the discovery process in the search for potent yet rare antioxidants from many herbs of food/medicinal origins. (Up to 250 words)
Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Botswana
Professor Daniel Motlhanka has completed his PhD in Pharmacognosy from King’s College, University of London in United Kingdom in 2005. He is currently the only Professor of Pharmacognosy in Botswana. He is the leading expert in ethnopharmacological and phytochemical studies including isolation and identification of compounds from indigenous useful plants of Botswana. Professor Motlhanka is Head of Department of Basic Sciences at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He has published tremendously on Bioactivity profiles of medicinal and food plants of Botswana. Prof Motlhanka who is also a herbalist is an expert in plant based extracts used to treat many ailments. He has made presentations in international conferences in Atlanta (USA), South Carolina (USA), North Carolina(USA), Alabama(USA), Florida(USA), Manchester (UK), London(UK), Harrogate(UK), Kent(UK), Malaysia, India, Italy, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mauritius, Kenya, Pretoria (RSA), Durban(RSA), Capetown(RSA), Zambia and many seminars in Waterloo (London),London Bridge( London), St Thomas (London), Kew Gardens (London) as well as a chain of local presentations in Botswana. Professor Motlhanka is member of many associations including the Society of Economic Botany. Prof Motlhanka is passionate about environmental conservation and cultivation of endangered plants germplasm. Prof Motlhanka is Botswana’s the chief lead investigator in natural product research for both neutraceutical and the pharmaceutical industry
In order to identify the value and neutraceutical potential of bioactive compounds with free radical scavenging activity, some underutilized edible fruits were studied for total phenolic content. There is plethora of evidence that increased consumption of fruits significantly reduces the incidence of chronic diseases (Prakash et al., 2012) such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other aging- related pathologies (Spillar, 2001; Velioglu et al., 1998). Polyphenols present in fruits have significant antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities with protective properties on biomolecules such as lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. In Botswana, wild fruits are widely consumed by rural communities and contribute to the socio-economic security. The main objective of the present study was to conduct phytochemical analysis and evaluate the free radical scavenging and total phenolic profiles of edible wild fruits from three plants of the genus Strychnos. Phytochemical screening revealed presence of alkaloids, phytosterols, phenols, terpenoids, reducing sugars, saponins and flavonoids. Free radical scavenging power estimated by the stable free radical DPPH ranged from 78.8% (S.cocculoides); 89.6% (S.madagascariensis); 95.4% (S.spinosa) acetone extracts measured at 50µg/ml. Total phenolic contents by the Folin-Ciocalteu method ranged from 678(S.madagascariens);968(S.cocculoides) and 1288mg/L GAE (S.spinosa).the results of these study validates the use of the wild fruits as health promoting agents and their potential as neutraceuticals.