Objective - At least seven plants known as Shankhapushpi are used in Indian system of medicine for improving memory function. The present study was aimed to analyze the antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties of the methanolic extracts of five of these plants, e.g. Clitorea ternatea, Canscora decussata, C. diffusa, Evolvulus alsinoides, E. nummularius.Methods Acetylcholinesterase activity was assayed modifying the method of Ellman et al. (1961) using mice brain homogenates as the enzyme source. Antioxidant activity of the extracts were determined by measuring DPPH radical and superoxide radical scavenging activity, metal chelation effect and total antioxidant capacity.Results - All the plants (except C. ternatea) inhibited acetylcholinesterase in a dose dependant manner, significantly scavenged DPPH radical and superoxide radical and chelated metal ions. Total antioxidant capacity (equivalent to ascorbic acid) of the plant extracts were also good. It was found that C. decussata has the highest acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity. Antioxidant activity in all systems (except metal chelation property) was highest in C. decussata.
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