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Natural polymers are advantageous over synthetic polymers as they are economical, non-toxic, environment friendly, devoid of side effects, more patient compliance, etc. Mucilages are polysaccharide complexes formed from sugar and uronic acid units. Mucilage form slimy masses in water, are typically heterogeneous in composition. The pulp of Ficus bengalensis contains a high proportion of mucilage and it also being used for different therapeutic purposes. However there are no reports on isolation and characterization of mucilage of Ficus bengalensis. Hence, the present study is planned to isolated and characterized for its morphological characteristics, identification by chemical tests, Solubility, melting range, pH, Swelling index, Ash values, presence of foreign organic matter, test for lead and arsenic, Loss on drying, Density, compressibility index and angle of repose etc. which will be standardizing parameter for future research work.
Keywords: Ficus bengalensis, mucilage, isolation and characterization.
The use of natural gums and mucilage as important part of formulation is with the development of pharmacy and different dosage forms. As general exicipients for oral use, eg. in tablets and capsules etc. the options are limited1. The prospects of natural polymers are brighter but even here extensive testing will be required. The synthetic polymers have certain disadvantages such as high cost, toxicity, environmental pollution during synthesis, non-renewable sources, side effects, less patient compliance, etc2. While the advantages of natural plant based materials include low cost, natural origin, free from side effects, bioacceptable, renewable source, environmental-friendly processing, local availability (especially in developing countries), better patient tolerance as well as public acceptance, from edible sources, etc3. Mucilages are polysaccharide complexes formed from sugar and uronic acid units. mucilages form slimy masses in water, are typically heterogeneous in composition. Upon hydrolysis, arabinose, galactose, glucose, mannose, xylose and various uronic acids are the most frequently observed components. Mucilages are obtained mainly from fruits. Some are obtained from marine algae, and from selected microorganisms4. In present study the fruits of Ficus bengalensis. were selected for the isolation of mucilage. The fruits of Ficus bengalensis. also known as Aliva in Marathi and garden cress in English, contain a high proportion of mucilage and it also being used for different therapeutic purposes5. The plant exudates (Acacia, karaya, and Tragacanth) have been the traditional gums for pharmaceutical purposes and they still find significant applications. These gums are labour intensive and carry premium price and their use will probably continue to decline6. However there are no reports on isolation and characterization of mucilage of Ficus bengalensis. Hence, the present study is planned to isolate and characterize mucilage of Ficus bengalensis.
MATERIAL AND METHOD:
The fresh Ficus bengalensis fruits were collected from plants growing in local areas of Anantapur, India. The plant was authenticated at the Botany Department of Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur, India. Ethanol (95%), Acetone, Tri chloro acetic acid, sodium hydroxide and diethyl ether, were procured from SD Fine chemicals (Mumbai, India). All other chemicals used were of analytical reagent grade and double distilled water was used throughout the experiments.
Extraction of mucilage
The fresh Ficus bengalensis fruits were collected and washed with water. Incisions were made on the fruits, left over night. The fruits were crushed and soaked in water for 5-6 hours, boiled for 30 minutes and left to stand for 1 hour to allow complete release of the mucilage into the water. The mucilage was extracted using a multi-layer muslin cloth bag to remove the marc from the solution. Acetone (three times the volume of filtrate) was added to precipitate the mucilage. The mucilage was separated, dried in an oven at 40°C, collected, ground, passed through a # 80 sieve and stored in desiccator at 30°C & 45% relative humidity till use5. The collected mucilage was tested for flow properties which were shown in Table 1. All values were found to be satisfactory.
Physical characterization of Ficus bengalensis fruit mucilage
Fresh Ficus bengalensis fruits were procured from the local market, Anantapur, India and authenticated by the Botany department, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur, India. The seeds do not contain any mucilage and were removed prior to extraction. The fruits were sliced, homogenized with five times its weight of water, centrifuged at 4000 rpm for 15 min and the mucilage was precipitated with three volumes of ethanol and washed with more ethanol followed by acetone. The mucilage so obtained was dried under vacuum (less than 1 Torr at 25°C for 12 h).
Purification of the Mucilage
The crude mucilage (1 %) was homogenized (Potter homogenizer) with cold dilute trichloro acetic acid solution (5%). The solution was centrifuged (3500 rpm for 20 min), neutralized with sodium hydroxide by drop wise addition and then dialyzed for 30 h against distilled water. The mucilage was precipitated with ethanol (in the quantities of three times the volumes) and washed successively with ethanol, acetone and diethyl ether.
Characterization of Mucilage:
The collected mucilage was evaluated for physicochemical characteristics viz., morphological characteristics, identification by chemical tests, Solubility, melting range, pH, Swelling index, Ash values, presence of foreign organic matter, test for lead and arsenic, Loss on drying, Density, compressibility index and angle of repose etc. (Table 1) The evaluation was carried out as per procedures describe in official books.
RESULT AND DISCUSSION
Table 1: Physicochemical characterization of Abelmoschus esculentus fruit mucilage
Slowly soluble in water
produces hage viscous solution
% yield (g /kg)
Ave. particle size
Wt. loss on drying
Density of liquid (0.5% w/v)
Microbial count (cfu/g)
Bacteria:5 ; Fungi: 2
Mounted in 96% ethanol
Transparent angular masses
Mounted in ruthenium red
Particles stained red
Mounted in Iodine solution
Particles stained blue
Test for Carbohydrate (Mollish test)
Test for Tannins (Ferric chloride test)
Test for chloride (Silver-nitrate test)
Test for Sulphate (Barium chloride test)
Test for Uronic acid
Test for foreign matter (%)
Test for heavy metal (lead)
Test for Arsenic
Angle of repose (q°)
Loose Bulk density (g/cm3)
Tapped bulk density(g/cm3)
Number of trials (n)=5