Research Interests

Research Interests

Pharmacological interaction of herbal preparations

Synergistic interactions between plant ingredients play a substantial role in phytomedicine as they often determine the therapeutic superiority of plant combinations over single ingredients. In order to investigate the synergistic effects of herbal compounds molecular and cell biological methods can be performed to establish concentration effect relations of single or combined herbal extracts. Several mathematical techniques can subsequently be applied to determine quality and quantity of the pharmacological interaction. The isobologram method according to Berenbaum et al. is a graphical representation displaying the type of interaction (synergism, antagonism or additivity, Fig. 1). Calculation of a combination index (Chou et al.) allows quantification of the synergistic or antagonistic activity. 

Ethnoentomology in Western Africa - the use of insects in traditional medicine

Traditional medicine in Africa is based on a broad ethnomedicinal knowledge and represents a major socio-cultural heritage, which has accumulated during the last millennia and features valuable and unique ethnomedicinal information. The World Health Organization defines traditional medicine as the sum total of the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness [1]. It may rely exclusively on past experience or observation handed down from generation to generation, verbally or in writing. Today, modern biochemical and molecular biological methods allow systematic investigation of these medicinal healing strategies. Fungus-growing termite species for example are traditionally used in Bénin for the treatment of various infectious diseases and gastrointestinal disorders. Microbiological examinations revealed potent antibacterial and antifungal activities of these soldier termites and further studies focus on anti-inflammatory mechanisms exerted by the insects. These ethnopharmacological investigations aid to reinforce the therapeutic value of traditionally used medicine in Western Africa.

Phytomedicine in Western Africa

Phytomedicine is a major part of the traditional medicinal system in Africa. It refers to herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products, that contain as active ingredients parts of plants, or other plant materials, or combinations [2]. The African continent features areas with extremely high biodiversity and high levels of endemism, indicating that many of the continent’s plant resources are uniquely African. The indigenous ethnomedicinal knowledge features therefore a variety of medicinal plants and combinations thereof. One anti-inflammatory gel formula, which is mainly used in the northern region of Bénin, consists of six indigenous plants. Cell culture models with keratinocytes and immune cells (e.g. HaCaT, THP-1) were applied to determine anti-inflammatory and immune-modulation activities. Determination of the active ingredients is based on extraction of the herbal preparations and solvent-based bioassay-guided fractionation. Further studies focus on the wound healing properties of the herbal remedies. The ethnopharmacological insights from these investigations help to validate and promote the therapeutic features of traditionally used phytomedicine in Western Africa.


[1] World Health Organization. WHO traditional medicine strategy 2014 - 2023. Genève: WHO; 2013.

[2] World Health Organization. General guidelines for methodologies on research and evaluation of traditional medicine 2000.

In vitro studies on the anti-inflammatory activity of herbal components

Macrophages are important effector cells of the immune system. Depending on the prevailing local conditions, these cells exhibit pro- or anti-inflammatory activities. In order to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of herbal compounds we perform microarray gene expression analysis during activation of monocyte derived human macrophages. Analysis of distinct surface markers allows observing alterations within cellular activation process. Antibody-based protein quantification additionally provides information about the secretion of immunological factors in response to inflammatory stimuli. These type of investigations may contribute to a better understanding of the pharmacological activities underlying the well-established efficacy of traditionally used herbal components during inflammatory reactions.

letzte Änderung: 16.06.2017