TROPICULTURA, 2009, 27, 3, 159-167
The levels and activities of a number of plant secondary
metabolites (PSMs) are known to increase in response
to increase in stress. The Mongolian plants considered
to possess medicinal properties may contain novel
compounds since they are exposed to severe
conditions; such plants could become good candidates
for modern drug discovery programmes. Information
on distribution, palatability to livestock and opinion of
local people on their nutritive and medicinal values was
compiled for 15 plant materials from 14 plant species
considered important for medicinal purposes. These
plants were evaluated for nutritive value and PSMs:
tannins, saponins, lectins, alkaloids and cyanogens.
High levels of tannins were found in roots of Bergenia
crassifolia and in leaves of B. crassifolia, Vaccinium
vitisidaea and Rheum undulatum. High lectin activity
(haemagglutination) was present in B. crassifolia roots,
and leaves of R. undulatum, Iris lacteal and Thymus
gobicus contained weak lectin activity. Tanacetum
vulgare, Serratula centauroids, Taraxacum officinale
and Delphinum elatum leaves contained saponin
activity (haemolysis). Alkaloids and cyanogens were
not present in any of the samples. The paper discusses
the known medicinal uses of these plants in light of the
PSMs levels, and identifies plant samples for future
applications in human and livestock health, welfare and
1Institute for Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics (480b), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany.
2Mongolian State University of Agricultural, Mongolia.
3Veterinary Research Institute, Mongolia.
*Corresponding author: H.P.S. Makkar: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +4971145923640, Fax: +4971145923702
Received on 28.01.09 and accepted for publication on 08.06.09.
Plant Secondary Metabolites in some Medicinal Plants
of Mongolia Used for Enhancing Animal Health and
H.P.S. Makkar1*, T. Norvsambuu2, S. Lkhagvatseren3 & K. Becker1
Keywords: Medicinal plants- Herbs- Plant secondary metabolities- Phytochemicals- Phytotherapy- Mongolia
Métabolites secondaires végétaux de quelques
plantes médicinales de la Mongolie utilisées pour
améliorer la santé et la production animale
Les niveaux et activités d’un certain nombre de
métabolites secondaires végétaux (plant secondary
metabolites, PSMs) sont connus pour augmenter à
la suite de stress croissant. Les plantes mongoles,
censées avoir des propriétés médicinales, pourraient
contenir de nouveaux composés puisqu’elles sont
exposées aux conditions environnementales rudes.
De telles plantes seraient de bons candidats pour des
programmes modernes de découverte de drogue.
Des informations sur la distribution, la sapidité pour le
bétail et l’opinion de la population locale concernant les
valeurs nutritives et médicinales ont été rassemblées
pour 15 matières végétales provenant de 14 espèces de
plantes considérées importantes dans des applications
médicinales. Ces plantes on été évaluées concernant
leur valeur nutritive et les PSMs: tannins, saponines,
lectines, alcaloïdes et cyanogènes. Des niveaux élevés
en tannins ont été trouvés dans les racines de Bergenia
crassifolia ainsi que dans les feuilles de B. crassifolia,
Vaccinium vitisidaea et Rheum undulatum. Une activité
élevée de lectin (hémagglutination) était présente dans
des racines de B. crassifolia, tandis que des feuilles de R.
undulatum, Iris lacteal et Thymus gobicus démontraient
une faible activité de lectin. Les feuilles de Tanacetum
vulgare, Serratula centauroids, Taraxacum officinale
et Delphinum elatum démontraient une activité de
saponines (hémolyse). Des alcaloïdes et cyanogènes
n’étaient pas présents dans ces échantillons. Cette
publication discute des applications médicinales
connues de ces plantes devant de niveaux PSMs, et
identifie des échantillons de plante pour de futures
applications au service de la santé des êtres humains et
du bétail, leur bien-être et sécurité.
The use of various herbs and medicinal plants has a
long history. They have been used since ancient times,
especially in oriental countries. However, the advent
of antibiotics in early 20th century led to decline in
their usage and waned interest in providing scientific
bases to their effects. The adverse effects of using
antibiotics and other synthetic compounds on human
and animal health and on product quality and safety
have regenerated interest in the fields of ‘phyto-
chemistry, phyto-pharmacology, phyto-medicine and
phyto-therapy’ during the last decade. The ban on the
use of antibiotics and other chemicals in livestock feeds
since 2006 by the EU, because of the risk to humans of
chemical residues in food and of antibiotic resistance
being passed on to human pathogens, has further
provided momentum to the research efforts on exploiting
plants, plant extracts or natural plant compounds as
potential natural alternatives for enhancing livestock
productivity. The plant kingdom might provide a useful
source of new medicines, pharmaceutical entities and
bioactive compounds that may be used for not only
treating human diseases but also for enhancing animal
production and health; and food safety and quality,
whilst conserving environment (13).
Plants have long been and continue to be the basis
of many traditional medicines worldwide. Asian
traditional medicinal systems such as traditional
Chinese medicine (TCM), Korean Chinese medicine,
Japanese Chinese medicine (kampo), Ayurveda from
India, Jamu from Indonesia are well known. Mongolian
traditional medicine, not much known to the world, is
an amalgam of traditional Tibetan medicine, Ayurveda
and Chinese medicine. Integrative medicine – the
combination of traditional medicine with conventional
or Western medicine could provide novel medicines
for treatment of both animals and human disease.
Bioactive compounds from plants could also be used
as feed additives for enhancing livestock productivity
and reducing environment pollutants such as methane
in the exhaled gas and nitrogen and phosphorus in urine
(13). The bioactivities in the plants are generally ascribed
to the presence of plant secondary metabolites (PSMs)
which could have beneficial or adverse effects (13, 17).
In recent times, there has been change in the perception
and several studies have been conducted on exploiting
the beneficial effects of these phytochemicals.
To form the basis for rational exploitation of medicinal
plants of Mongolia, we characterised some of the
medicinal plants for PSMs and chemical composition,
and the data are presented and discussed in this paper.
Material and methods
The samples were sun dried and brought to Germany
for analyses. For analysis of crude protein and fibre
fractions, the samples were ground to pass through 1
mm sieves; for the analysis of PSMs the samples were
ground to fine powder using a ball mill (Retsch MM200,
Haan, Germany). Crude protein (Kjeldahl method; N x
6.25) and ether extract were determined using AOAC
(1). Neutral and acid detergent fibre analyses were
conducted according to Van Soest’s fiber analysis (18).
Sodium sulphite and α-amylase were not used for the
determination of fibre.
Extractable total phenols, total tannins and condensed
tannins were determined in aqueous acetone (70:30,
acetone:distilled water) extracts as described by
Makkar (11). Total phenols were determined with Folin-
Ciocalteu reagent using tannic acid as a standard. Total
tannins were measured as the difference between total
phenols before and after tannin removal by adsorption
on insoluble polyvinylpyrrolidone (Sigma, Darmstadt,
Germany). Both total phenols and total tannins were
expressed as tannic acid equivalent. Condensed
tannins (CT) were measured using the butanol-HCl-iron
reagent (14) and expressed as leucocyanidin equivalent.
The biological activity of tannins was determined in a
bioassay developed in our laboratory. In this bioassay,
samples are incubated with and without polyethylene
glycol, PEG (MW 4000 or 6000) in syringes containing
buffered rumen liquor. The polyethylene glycol binds to
tannins making them inert, which leads to higher gas
production; the higher the increase in gas production,
the higher the biological activity of tannins (14).
Analysis of the lectin content was conducted by
haemagglutination assay in round-bottomed wells of
microtitre plates using 1% (v/v) trypsinised cattle blood
erythrocytes suspension in saline phosphate buffer, pH
7.0 (12). The haemagglutination activity was expressed
as the minimum amount of the material (in mg per ml
of the assay medium) which produced agglutination.
The minimum amount was the material per ml of the
assay medium in the highest dilution that was positive
Saponin activity was determined as haemolytic activity.
The sample was extracted in phosphate buffer saline
(PBS). An aliquot (50 µl) of the PBS extract was diluted
two-fold with PBS in separate wells of a microtiter plate
and was mixed with 50 µl of 3% red blood cell suspension
(from cattle blood) in each well and incubated at room
temperature for 2 h. A clear concentric circle around the
red blood cells indicated a non-haemolytic well, and the
spread of red colour in the well and absence of a clear
zone around red blood cells showed haemolysis. The
haemolytic activity was expressed as the inverse of the
minimum amount of saponin extract per ml of the assay
medium in the highest dilution that started producing
The presence of alkaloids was assessed by extracting
the finely ground materials in chloroform and application
on thin layer chromatography (TLC) plates (Silica gel G).
Dragendorff reagent was used for detection of alkaloids
The determination of cyanogens was based on
evolution of hydrocyanic acid from the sample and
reduction of sodium picrate on a filter paper to a
red-coloured compound, in proportion to its amount
evolved and measurement of absorption at 510 nm
using a spectrophotometer (5).
Results and discussion
Plants are good sources for the discovery of
pharmaceutical compounds and medicines. Natural
products could be potential drugs for humans or
livestock species, and also these products and their
analogues can act as intermediates for synthesis
of useful drugs. Bioassay directed isolation and
synthesis of analogues have long been appreciated as
the effective approach for development of new plant
Levels of secondary
environmentally induced as well as genetically
controlled. The secondary metabolites are also called
as plant defensive compounds since these have been
evolved to deter pathogens or herbivores such as insects
and mammals. The plants growing on low nutrient
soil or in harsh conditions are often more dependent
on evolved chemical defences. The Mongolian plants
grow under harsh conditions of extremely low and high
temperatures and thus could contain PSMs with a wide
range of interesting activities.
The common names of plants, their distribution in
Mongolia and reported medicinal uses are listed in
table 1. This table also contains information on farmers’
opinion on the palatability of the leaves by livestock
and on their nutritional value. The leaves in particularly
of Artemisia frigida and Taraxacum officinale are highly
palatable by animals. The leaves studies are found
in different regions of Mongolia and are considered
to posses wide medicinal values, ranging from
antimicrobial and anthelminthics to kidney- and liver-
stimulating effects (Table 1).
metabolites are both
The crude protein (CP) content of the leaves varied from
6.3 to 24.5%. The CP content was lowest (3.3%) in root
sample of Bergenia crassifolia (Table 2). The leaves of A.
frigida and T. officinale were reported by farmers to have
high nutritional value. The CP content of these leaves
considered good for livestock had high CP values (15.6
and 24.6% respectively); although mature leaves of A.
frigida have a lower CP content (9.0%).
Tannins are polyphenolic compounds and have a wide
range of effects varying from decreasing availability
of proteins and other nutrients including amino acids
and minerals to protecting ruminants from bloat,
enhancing rumen bypass protein, enhancing meat
quality and decreasing helminth infestation. Tannin
level and activity was very high in B. crassifolia roots
and leaves of B. crassifolia, Vaccinium vitisidaea
and Rheum undulatum. A moderate tannin activity
(33.4% increase in gas on addition of PEG) was
present in Thymus gobicus. Tannins are also known
to have antimicrobial, anthelmintic, antimutagenic,
antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties. A
number of tannin-rich tree leaves and browses have
been evaluated and found to be effective in reducing
faecal egg worm and enhancing livestock productivity
(13). Parasitism by gastrointestinal nematodes is one
of the major constraints on livestock production,
especially when the nutritional status of the animals
is poor. Subclinical infections of gastrointestinal
nematodes decrease feed intake, body-weight gain,
and milk and wool production. In subtropical and
tropical areas of the world where the animals are on
low quality feeds and have poor nutritional status,
mortality and morbidity due to nematode infection
are widespread. There is a growing awareness that
chemical anthelmintic treatment, on its own, may not
provide a long term strategy for managing parasites
in grazing animals. The widespread development and
prevalence of resistant strains of nematode parasites
and public concern over drug residues excreted in
animal products have stimulated efforts to identify
and use plant-based anthelmintic compounds;
tannin-containing plants and tannins could potentially
be natural anthelmintics.
Among the above-mentioned four plants identified
as containing substantial amounts of tannins, only T.
gobicus has been used by farmers as an anthelmintic
to dispel intestinal worms. The presence of etheric oil
compounds such as thymine, eugenol and carvacrol in
this plant could also be responsible for its anthelmintic
effects. The other three tannin-rich plants B. crassifolia,
Vaccinium vitisidaea and Rheum undulatum also hold
potential for reducing the intestinal worm load in
livestock and increasing their productivity. Studies on
evaluation of these plants as anthelmintics are being
conducted in our laboratory in Mongolia. Similar use
of these plant materials for other properties stated
above for tannins also needs investigation. The use of
B. crassifolia root and leaf extracts as mouth cleaner in
Mongolia, their known astringent effect and their use for
curing infectious disorders of the gastro-intestinal tract
(Table 1) could be attributed to the presence of high
tannin levels and activities in this plant. The astringent
effect of tannins is a well established phenomenon
In Mongolia, farmers also use A. frigida, Tanacetum
vulgare, Iris lacteal, and Stellera champaejasme leaves
as anthelmintics (Table 1), although tannin levels were
low in these leaves. The data on PSMs in this study
could not provide answer to the use of these leaves as
anthelmintics. This effect could possibly be due to the
presence of some other non-tannin bioactive moiety
such as bromelain present in pineapple leaves (13).
Enhancement of the nutritional status of animals has
also been shown to decrease the burden of intestinal
worms due to increased immunity (7). Artemisia frigida
is highly palatable to livestock and has reasonably high
medicinal plants of Mongolia
Distribution in Mongolia
Palatability to livestock &
known nutritional value
Considered medicinal value in
Dense bunch-forming xerophytic semi-shrub,
10–40 cm tall; leaves: bract leaves with white
cork edges, lower surface covered with dense
hair and upper surface is hairy along margins,
leaf stalks short, blade stipple or double
palmate; roots: short rhizomes; inflorescence:
2–4 mm wide, semi-circular involucres form;
development cycle: begins to grow early in
spring or in late March, flowers in August, and seed matures in September.
Khuvsgul, Khentei, Khangai,
Mongolian Altai, Middle
Great Lakes, Valley of lakes,
East Gobi, Gobi-Altai.
Site preference: Gravelly
and stony slopes, foot
hills, rocky sites in dry river
basins, edges of dry river banks, around ponds in
mountain steppe, steppe
and desert steppe.
Very palatable for sheep, goats,
and camels in summer, and
very palatable to horses and
cattle in winter and spring.
Farmers consider it a nutritious
plant animals grazing ‘Agi’ pasture gain weight rapidly. It is
collected, dried and mixed with curd grain, whey, salt and other
residues from dairy processing
to make feed for nursing, sick
and exhausted animals. It is a good component for hand-
Aerial parts of the plant exert
positive effects on liver function
and on excretion of bile and are
diuretic. Leaves have anthelmintic,
antifungal, antibacterial, astringent and
possibly by volatile oils or thujone present in leaves. Leaves used for
treatment of wounds.
Tall plant 30–150 cm with leafy stem; leaves:
pinnate dissected with pinnate lobes. 10-70
head compound complex shell. Flat-topped
clusters of small, button-like yellow flowers, and long fringe of soft white hairs found on the
Khangai, Mongol-Daurian, Khovd, Mongolian Altai,
Site preference: deciduous
and willow forests and its
periphery, rocky sites.
Different palatability recorded,
depending on places. Not poisonous in the mixture with
Although the plant is considered
to be toxic if consumed in large
quantities, cases of livestock poisoning are rare, though, because it is unpalatable to
The leaves and flowers used as
anthelmintics to dispel or destroy
intestinal worms, and as an
external applicant to kill scabies,
fleas and lice.
Seed has herbicidal properties. Oil
is considered to be toxic.
Mesophytic perennial forb, 20–50 cm tall, grows
in dense, large bunches; leaves: numerous leaves, 4–8 mm wide, always longer than flower
stalk; inflorescence: tube of perianth much shorter than corolla; blue petals with white outer
circle, wider than inner circle; pods 4–8 mm
long, shorter than flower and has many folds;
development cycle: flowers and seeds mature
Khentei, Khangai, Mongol
Mongolia, Gobi-Altai, Alashan
Site preference: Marshy lake
shore, riparian areas, edges
When dried and cured,
camels small ruminants, and
Leaves used as antibacterial, anthelmentic
agent for livestock, treatment of wounds
originated from thermal burn. Root stock,
seed and flowers are used in the treatment
of pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic gastritis
and anthelmintic purposes.
In Japanese traditional medicine seeds
used for treating swellings and snake bite
wounds, and root stock for temperature
Perennial forb 50–100 cm tall; stems: naked,
grooved stems, 4 cm diameter; leaves: mostly
basal, triangular to oval or broad oval, 10–40 cm
long with wavy margins, leaf petioles 10–20 cm long; roots: taproot; inflorescence: compact,
divaricated; seeds: 8 mm long, oval-shaped
weighing approximately 0.1 g; development
cycle: flowers in June-July, and seeds mature
Khentei, Khangai, Mongol
Mongolia, East Gobi.
gravelly and moist meadows
along rivers, ravines, rocky
mountain crests, meadow
slopes and abandoned land.
green. Sheep and goats
moderately graze when
Locals from Gobi and steppe areas make
jam from flesh of leaf stalks. Leaves used
for treatment of abdominal distension,
gastritis, food poisoning and cavity
Root and taproot have soft purgative
Flavonoids and anthraquinones of leaves
and taproot have anti-inflammatory and
irritant laxative effect on the large intestine,
causing contractions of the intestinal walls and stimulating bowel movement.
Semi-shrub with woody base, 2–3 cm tall,
prostrate; stem: heavily branched round and
evenly hairy; leaves: small, firm circular or oval-
shaped narrow, smooth edged, outer surface
covered with long hair along ventral margins and
leafstalks hairy and red brown; development
cycle: flowers in June-July, seeds mature in
August and cured litter persists through winter
Khuvsgul, Khentei, Khangai,
Daurian, Depression of Great
gravelly banks, gravelly and
stony slopes, hillside areas,
rocky sites and scree.
Green plants not grazed by
animals. Dried and cured
standing matter grazed by sheep and goats, and only
occasionally by horses.
Camels and cattle do not
graze the dried and cured
The aerial part of the plant is used as an
antiseptic, a tonic for enhancing immunity, anti-asthmatic
problems, anthelmintic to dispel or destroy
Coarse and hairy plant 15–80 cm tall; leaves:
double palmate, narrow spear shaped or linear
and 15 cm long and 6 cm wide.
Daurian, Mongolian Altai.
gravelly, and stony slopes in
steppe and sandy-steppe.
Not very palatable to
Flowers and seeds of the plant are known to
contain glucosinolates, act as skin irritants causing inflammation and blistering, if applied to painful and aching joints, they
increase blood flow to the affected area,
helping to remove the build-up of waste
Aerial parts of the plant have purgative
Xerophytic perennial forb; 20–40 cm tall; stems:
naked straight stems; leaves: alternate, nearly
seeile, oblong-ovate, 17–30 mm long, 3–8 mm
wide; roots: large, fleshy taproot; inflorescence:
dense inflorescence at apex of stem and branches, each inflorescence with 20–25
flowers; corolla bluish pink; development cycle: flowers in June, and seed matures in July-
Khentei, Khangai, Mongol-
Daurian, great Khingan.
no reports of livestock
The tincture and decoction of leaves
have purgative function and used for
the treatment of Brady peristalsis and
constipation. Plant decoction is also used
for treating gingivitis and dental disorder.
Tincture and powder of leaves can be used
for mechanical injury and thermal burn.
Leaves also used as anthelmintic agent.
Perennial forb 8–50 cm tall; leaves: 5–25 cm
long, 1–4 cm wide, nearly glabrous, edged, or
serrated but not deeply pinnate; husk: 12-14
mm wide, 12-20 mm long, dull green, leaves in
outer circle of leaflets spear-shaped to oval and
twice as short as narrow leaflets in inner circle;
inflorescence: peduncle 8–50 cm long with
woolly pubescence under the head; flowers
light yellow; achene fruit about 4 mm wide,
brown or light-brown with numerous spots on
top; development cycle: flowers from May to
September, and seeds mature during the same
Khuvsgul, Khentei, Mongol-
Daurian, Khovd, Depression
of Great lakes, Valley of
Site preference: forest and
wet meadows, shrub thickets,
forest margins and garden
edges and roads.
Palatable to cattle and
pigs. Considered to be a
good feed by farmers.
consumption, used for decreasing blood
sugar and increasing blood clotting, water
extract used for diuretic purpose and alcoholic extract as antifungal agent.
Xerophytic-mesophytic perennial forb, 15–70
cm tall; stems: branched near the top; leaves: compound palmate, round, 10 cm long, 15 cm
wide, and dissected to the bases; inflorescence:
flowers bright blue, large asymmetrical with
spur arranged singly along rachis; development
cycle: flowers in July –August, and seeds mature
in late August and early September.
Khusgul, Khentei, Mongol-
Daurian, Great khingan, East
Mongolia, Gobi –Altai.
Site preference: plains, slopes
and foothills of mountains and
dry meadows in river valleys.
In summer, small animals
graze moderately, while
cattle and horses poorly.
In other seasons, small
with moderate grazing by
horses and cattle.
Plant part on the ground has antibacterial
effects and reducing blood pressure. It is
used for the treatment of periton disorder.
Aerial parts of the plant have antibacterial
effects and reduce blood pressure. The
plant contains powerful alkaloids, for
example vincristine used to treat some
types of cancer and atropine used for
reducing spasms and relieving pain.
Perennial, semi-shrub, 5-30 cm tall with whitish
hairy branches; long-lasting orange-red berries
amidst glossy, fully evergreen oval shaped
leaves; flowers are bell shaped and filament of
stamen is hairy.
Khusgul, Khovsgol, Khentei,
khingan and Khangai.
Site preference: Shady gravel
slopes, forest margins.
Ruminants graze when
green. Sheep and goats
moderately graze when
Both the leaves and fruit are useful for
treating congestion or the common cold or
liver kidney and urethral ailments. Berries
are a good source of Vitamin C, A, and is
rich in antioxidants and are used for raising
blood pressure and in diabetics.
Mongolians use extracts of the leaves and
fruit for treatment of cold and improving
immunity in winter season.
Shrubs small, 40-90 cm tall. Stem branched;
older branches black-brown or brown, slightly
fissured; branchlets white, glabrous, sometimes
papillate; leaves alternate, fascicular on dwarf branches, yellow-green, fleshy.
East and Western Gobi, Gobi-
Altai and Alashaan Gobi. Site
dunes, rocky deserts on salty
green. Sheep and goats
moderately graze when
dried. Cattle, sheep, and
horses will eat it, if nothing
better is available.
Extract of aerial parts of the plant have
astringent, anti-inflammatory and purgative effects. Root extract of this plant extends
lifespan, improve immunity and resistance
against diseases. Mongolian scientists
have developed medicines, called ‘Salorid’,
‘Salimon’ which are considered to improve
Perennial shrub; flower: regular structured ,
sepals 4–5, petals 4–5, pistil 1, stamen 4–8,
ovary 1 or 2 nests; stems and leaves: thick stem
with thick basal leaves; roots: thick, brunched
rhizomes with brown color.
Khuvsgul, Khentii, Khangai,
and Mongolian Altai.
Site preference: Alpine rocky
and stony fields, scree and
shady gravel slopes, forest
Not very palatable to
Extract and decoction of root stocks used
in the treatment of gynecological diseases
and gastritis, mouth can be cleaned by extracts of root, taproot and leaves.
The plant has expectorant and astringent
medicine, named ‘Badglumecine’, from the
roots for treatment of infectious disorders
of gastro-intestinal tract of animal.
Source: (8, 10, 15, 19).
Chemical composition (g/kg dry matter) and plant secondary metabolites in some medicinal plants of Mongolia
156.4 19.4 548.1 431.0 19.7 5.1 0.3 4.3 ndnd ndnd
90.314.1 560.7 426.8 21.9 4.0 0.80 ndnd nd nd
151.8 34.5 462.3416.0 37.5 5.7 0.40 0.02nd nd nd
103.014.7 495.1436.3 38.1 28.9 14.30 nd0.08nd nd
105.2 6.0 227.7168.5 76.6 55.7 7.1 92.7 nd 0.64 ndnd
103.623.3540.5 443.0 35.9 11.6 0.233.4 nd 0.04nd nd
114.9 35.4625.8 509.4 58.3 46.0 0.5 7.2 0.015ndnd nd
133.9 27.7391.3 312.2 43.8 15.4 0.3 0.4 nd ndndnd
245.926.2317.7 270.6 22.7 7.1 0.311.0 0.015nd ndnd
136.4 22.4515.4387.1 22.2 8.5 0.7 4.10.015ndndnd
156.419.4548.1431.0 19.7 5.1 0.3 4.3 ndnd nd nd
63.233.3 476.1354.1 243.3149.2 174.5 96.3nd ndndnd
94.811.7574.3380.3 65.3 32.0 28.0 17.7 ndnd nd nd
63.123.9 260.9190.4 320.2178.4 14.1 169.8 ndndnd nd
Bergenia crassifolia x
32.7 7.7226.0197.0309.3165.0 33.1204.7 nd10.25 ndnd
nd, not detected; 1 Cut on July 20th 2007, and 2 cut on August 20th 2007; all samples except x were leaf samples. x was a root sample
aneutral detergent fibre, bacid detergent fibre; c, dTP (total phenols) and TT (total tannins) as tannic acid equivalent in g/kg DM; eCT (condensed
tannins) as leucocyanidin equivalent in g/kg DM; fpercent increase in gas on addition of polyethylene glycol; g Inverse of the minimum amount
of plant-material/ml of assay, which produced haemolysis; the assay comprised of 1: 1 (v / v) of plant-material in PBS and 3% red blood
cells, h Inverse of minimum amount of plant-material/ml of the assay, which produced agglutination; the assay comprised of 1: 1 (v / v) of
plant-material in RBC and 1% trypsinized red blood cells.
crude protein level (young leaves 15.6% and mature
leaves 9.0%). The effectiveness of this plant against
intestinal worms could possibly be due to the high
nutritional quality and high intake of this plant material,
thereby enhancing nutritional status of animals.
The use of tannins for reduction of methane (a
greenhouse gas) production from ruminants is being
considered (3). Recently studies conducted in our
laboratory have shown a high correlation between the
tannin activity and methane reducing potential of these
medicinal plants from Mongolia. Tannin containing
plants could possibly be used to prevent diarrhoea in
Saponins are steroid or triterpene glycoside compounds
present in a number of plants. These were present
in T. vulgare, Serratula centauroides, T. officinale and
Delphinum elatum leaves (Table 2). Saponins have also
been known to have several health beneficial effects, for
example, enhancement of immunity, reduction in blood
glucose and other antidiabetic effects, and reduction
in blood cholesterol (4). The plants T. officinale and D.
elatum are used in Mongolia for reducing blood sugar
and blood pressure, and this study has shown that
these plants contain saponins, which could possibly
be responsible for these beneficial effects. Saponins
also have anti-protozoal effects and could potentially
be used for controlling protozoal diseases. This group
of PSMs also has strong antifungal, antinematode,
molluscicidal, and insecticidal properties (2, 4, 20).
The use of T. vulgare for killing scabies, fleas and lice
as practiced in Mongolia could possibly be attributed
to the presence of saponins. In addition, the saponin
containing Mongolian plants could find applications
for reducing emission of methane from ruminants and
enhancing livestock productivity (20).
Among the PSMs determined, alkaloids and cyanogens
were not detected in any of the samples analysed
(Table 2). Alkaloids and cyanogens have been reported
to have both detrimental and beneficial effects (17).
Lectins or haemagglutins are sugar-binding proteins.
Lectin activity was present in the leaves of I. lacteal,
R. undulatum, T. gobicus and B. crassifolia roots; lectin
activity being highest in B. crassifolia roots. Traditionally
lectins have been described as toxic and antinutritional
factors; however major developments have taken
place during the last decade showing a number of
potential applications of plant lectins in biomedical and
bioscience fields. To name a few are applications as
gut-, metabolic-, hormone- and immune-regulators
and their use for protection of intestine against the
adverse effects of radio- and chemo-therapy used
in cancer therapy (16). Lectins present in leaves of
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roots might elicit the beneficial effects of these plants
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in lectin activity could be an interesting candidate for
Based on the known activities of secondary metabolites,
this study has provided explanation for some of
the medicinal uses of the plants for which the local
population use them. This study has also identified
plant materials such as B. crassifolia root which is rich
in tannins and lectins; B. crassifolia, V. vitisidaea and
R. undulatum leaves which are rich in tannins; and T.
vulgare, S. centauroids, T. officinale and D. elatum leaves
containing saponins, for future investigations leading to
their various applications in human and animal health,
production and welfare. Future studies should also be
directed towards exploring other phytochemicals such
as flavonoids, flavanones, phytoestrogens, essential
oils etc. in the leaves and other parts of the plants
especially roots, which are also used in the traditional
Mongolian medicines to a considerable extent.
We are thankful to Mrs. B. Fischer for excellent technical
assistance. Authors from Mongolia are thankful to
International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria for
the financial support.
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S. Lkhagvatseren, Mongolian, MSc, Veterinary Research Institute, Mongolia.
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