besides treating cold and constipation, the medicinal plant reetha is used as a contraceptive, called consap, for women. A study has now attributed another property to this contraceptive. Consap has been found effective against trichomoniasis, a protozoal disease that affects that genitourinary tract. Researchers at Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, who developed Consap from soap nut or reetha in 2003 reported their findings in the June 10 issue of Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The researchers treated the pathogen (Trichomonas vaginalis) with varying concentrations of saponins (found in various parts of the plant) along with conventional drugs used to treat the disease. The results showed that the protozoa were killed after 12 hours of incubation, at the concentration of 0.005 per cent of saponins. At lower concentrations, the protozoa remained viable even after 48 hours of incubation. The group also tested the effect of saponins on the ability of the protozoa to cling to human cells. Incubation with 0.005 per cent saponins for three hours showed 46 per cent reduction in the ability to adhere, compared to the conventional drug. Presence of saponins also affected the pathogens ability to produce key enzymes. The chemicals did not have any adverse effect on host cells.