Purpose: To assess Alchornea cordifolia, a medicinal plant with numerous biological actions and uses in traditional medicine, for possible toxicity in rats.
Methods: The probable effect of the ethanol extract of Alchornea cordifolia (250 - 2000 mg/kg, p.o.) by gavage was evaluated on blood cellular elements and chemistry, as well as on the weight and histology of vital organs of male adult Spraque-Dawley rats.
Results: Daily administration of the extract for two weeks did not cause significant changes in most haematological indices and blood chemistry. However, a dose-dependent increase (p<0.01) in neutrophils was observed. Relative organ weights were comparable in control and treated groups. Histopathological assessment of liver sections of treated-rats showed normal architecture at doses <1000 mg/kg. However, in animals treated with 1000 and 2000 mg/kg, cloudy swelling of hepatocytes with vacuolar and hydropic degeneration were evident. Kidney architecture at all dose levels was normal.
Conclusion: The results of the study show that administration of the ethanol extract of Alchornea cordifolia to male adult rats by gavage evoked histopathologic changes in the liver at doses > 1000 mg/kg. These findings call for caution in the use of Alchornea cordifolia especially in high doses.