Background: Ficus thonningii
is commonly used in traditional medicine across the African continent. We investigated the effects of crude Ficus
extracts on growth, morphology and morphometry of the abdominal viscera and clinical biochemistry of neonatal rats.
Materials and Methods:
Forty, 6-day old Sprague Dawley rat pups were orally gavaged once daily with either low (50 mg.kg-1
b.w) or high (500
b.w) doses of aqueous or methanolic F. thonningii
leaf extracts while the control received distilled water. After 7 days of treatment, the
pups were euthanased and gross morphometric measurements of the abdominal visceral organs were recorded. Samples of the liver, caecum and
proximal small intestine were processed for histology. Plasma biochemical parameters were analysed colorimetrically.
High methanolic doses of F. thonningii
extracts exhibited trophic effects on the stomach while both aqueous and methanolic extracts had
trophic effects on the ceacal mucosa of rats. No significant growth-promoting effects were observed in other visceral organs. Histological analysis
revealed no mucosal damage or necrosis. Clinical biochemistry parameters were not abnormally altered. There was a significant decrease
(p<0.05, ANOVA) in the plasma concentration of non-fasting glucose in the high methanolic group but triglycerides and cholesterol were
The findings suggest that at low doses, F. thonningii
extracts can be safely used without the risk of any disruption in the structural
integrity of the neonatal rat GIT and function of the liver and kidneys.