Introduction: Several species that belong to the genus Astragalus have been used in Palestinian folk
medicine to treat various infectious and non-infectious diseases. This study aimed to assess the
phytochemical and biological activities of four Astragalus species growing wild in Jerusalem.
Methods: Phytochemical screening, estimation of total phenols,
flavonoids and tannin contents, as well as
antimicrobial and antioxidant activities were investigated for Astragalus aleppicus, Astragalus
angustifolius, Astragalus annularis, and Astragalus boeticus. Phytochemical screening, evaluation of total
flavonoids, tannins contents as well as antioxidant properties were investigated by using
standard phytochemical methods. Detection of antimicrobial activities for both the aqueous and the
methanolic extracts were performed using the broth micro-dilution method. The antimicrobial activities
were examined against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa American Type
Culture Collection reference strains, as well as against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and
Candida albicans clinical isolates.
Results: A mixture of phytochemical compounds was found in the extracts of all tested Astragalus species.
A. boeticus was found to contain high levels of total phenols,
flavonoids and tannins with remarkable
potential of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. The current study provides initial data that justify
the use and importance of Astragalus species in Palestinian folkloric medicine.
Conclusion: Our results showed that A. boeticus was superior to the other 3 species in all the conducted
tests. In fact, it had the highest polyphenolic content. In addition, its aqueous extract showed the highest
antibacterial activity, while the methanolic extract showed the highest antifungal and antioxidant
activities. Further studies are needed to identify and characterize these constituents.