The chemical investigation of four medicinal plants.
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This thesis describes a phytochemical investigation of four medicinal plants, namely, Agave attenuata (Agavaceae), Balanites maughamii (Balanitaceae), Astrotrichilia parvifolia (Meliaceae) and Combretum fragrans (Combretaceae). Investigations of A. attenuata and B. maughamii were undertaken as biological studies have shown that these plants possess anti-bilharzial properties. Schistosomiasis is an important public health issue in South Africa and attempts to deal with infected rural communities have forced scientists to focus their attention on snail control using plant molluscicides. A. attenuata yielded two glycosides, timosaponin A III (compound I) and 5?-pregn-16-en-20one- 3?-O-tetrasaccharide (compound II), while a coumarin, scopoletin (compound III) and a sterol, stigmasterol (compound IV) were isolated from B. maughamii A dammarane, shoreic acid (compound V) was isolated from A. parvifolia, this formed part of an ongoing investigation into the Meliaceae of Madagascar. Plants of the family Combretaceae are widespread in Africa and are used by traditional healers for a wide range of illnesses. The leaves and bark are used abundantly, however, the winged fruits are never eaten as they are highly toxic to animals and humans. The leaf surface is covered with epidermal scale-like trichomes through which acidic triterpenoid mixtures are secreted. Six lupane-type triterpenoids were isolated from C. jragrans, namely, lupeol (compound VI), lupenone (compound VII), lupeol 3?- docosanoate (compound VIII), lupeol 3?-eicosanoate (compound IX) hennadiol (compound X) and 30hydroxylupenone (compound XI). All the above compounds were isolated by column chromatography and the structures were elucidated by means of NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and infra red spectroscopy.