Corresponding Author

Chinwe S. Alaribe

Subject Area

Natural Products and Phytochemistry


Dental caries has been reported to touch almost half of the world’s population, making it one of the most prevalent disease conditions in the world. Studies have shown that chewing sticks could be useful in cleaning of teeth and could offer protection against dental conditions, including caries. Given the increasing usage of chewing sticks and their unstandardized nature, in this study we investigated the acute toxicity, genotoxic effects on liver and kidney, and phytochemical constituents of chewing sticks from Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides root and Distemonanthus benthamianus stem, widely used in West Africa. Chemical tests showed the presence of saponins, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, steroids, and reducing sugars in ethanol extract of Z. zanthoxyloides root, while saponins, alkaloids, glycosides, and reducing sugars were detected in ethanol extract of D. benthamianus stem. The presence of these bioactive phytochemicals is indicative of the antimicrobial potentials of these plants and could support their usefulness as chewing sticks. Acute toxicity study revealed that the LD50 values of ethanol extracts of D. benthamianus stem and Z. zanthoxyloides root are greater than 2300 and 5000 mg/kg body weight, respectively. Genotoxicity assessment further revealed that D. benthamianus stem and Z. zanthoxyloides root ethanol extracts could induce genotoxic effect on liver and kidney at doses up to 2300 and 5000 mg/kg body weight, respectively. These findings indicate that despite the biochemical properties and medicinal importance of Z. zanthoxyloides root and D. benthamianus stem, their usage should be done with caution.