Graduate Program

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Thesis Director

Gordon C. Tucker

Thesis Committee Member

Britto P. Nathan

Thesis Committee Member

Thomas Canam


In recent times, medicinal plants have become the focus of scientists and research. However, many have used traditional medicine to take advantage of plant extracts to treat many diseases, especially neurological diseases. Various central nervous system receptors have been shown to associate with plant extracts influencing the pharmacology and in this manner conceivably assuming a role in human sickness and treatment. For instance, extracts from Cussonia paniculata Eckl. & Zeyh targeted several early nervous and mental disease, and Kalopanax pictus has been traditionally used for the treatment of rheumatoidal arthritis, nerve pain and diabetes mellitus.

In the present study, we investigated the chemical constituents of 12 species of Araliaceae: Aralia elata, Hydrocotyle umbellata, Aralia racemosa, Aralia spinosa, Kalopanax septemlobus, Eleutherococcus sieboldianus, Fatsia japonica, Polyscias fruticosa, Oplopanax horridum, Hydrocotyle sibthorpoiaes, Hedera hibernica, Oplopanax horridus, Centella asiatica, and Schefflera arboricola. Several species contained madecassic acid and asiatic acid.

In addition, we investigated the effects of these last two compounds on the growth of culture nerve cells. Madecassic acid showed significant activity in the neurite bearing, neurite extension, and combined length.