Tag Archives: Mucunain


The potential of Mucuna pruriens as a biological weapon (itch – inducer) was assessed by percolating the dry hairs of the plant and subsequent column chromatographic separation of the extract obtained using n- hexane, ethyl acetate and ethanol as eluents. Human volunteers were used for the timing of itch duration at various concentrations. The n- Hexane extract did not itch any of the subjects, ethyl acetate extract itched averagely for 38secs at 0.02g/cm3, 76.6secs at 0.04 g/cm3 and 118secs at 0.06g/cm3. Pure ethanol extract itched for 51.2secs at 0.02g/cm3, 101.4secs at 0.04g/cm3 and 151.8secs at 0.06g/cm3. Methylation of the ethanol extract which had the highest itching potency and the dry Mucuna pruriens hairs with sodium methoxide increased the itching potency of Mucuna pruriens which was noticed in the increased duration of the itch: 53.4secs, 107.6secs and 160.6secs for methylated ethanol extract; 56.6secs, 112.6secs and 169.4secs for methylated dry Mucuna pruriens hairs in order of increasing concentration of the extracts: 0.02, 0.04, 0.06g/cm3 respectively. The results of GC-MS revealed a series of fatty acids with Oleic acid having the highest percentage (79.6%) in all the extracts analysed.  Methylation using sodium methoxide converted most of the oleic acid into a methyl ester (methyl-14-methylpentadecanoate). Other fatty acids detected include, stearic acid, palmitic acid, erucic acid and myristic acid.  The functional groups of the compounds responsible for itching in Mucuna pruriens were confirmed to be present in the IR results. Basedon the results, methylated ethanol extract and methylated Mucuna pruriens hairs could serve as good sources of biological weapon. 

Keywords: Biological weapon, Itch, Methylation, Mucuna pruriens, Mucunain, Serotonin

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