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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6310967, 14 pages
Research Article

The Immune Effects of an African Traditional Energy Tonic in In Vitro and In Vivo Models

1Traditional Medicine Laboratory, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
2Department of Public Management and Economics, Faculty of Management Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
3Biomedical Research Centre, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
4Kwazihlahla Zemithi, J2067, Umlazi, Durban 4031, South Africa

Correspondence should be addressed to Nceba Gqaleni

Received 18 August 2016; Revised 25 October 2016; Accepted 20 February 2017; Published 20 March 2017

Academic Editor: Raffaele Capasso

Copyright © 2017 Mlungisi Ngcobo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Most of the African traditional medicines (ATM) are formulated as energy tonics to boost and maintain immune defences. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the immune effects of a traditional energy tonic using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), THP-1 monocytes, and bacteria infected rats. When tested in mitogen and peptidoglycan stimulated PBMCs, this energy tonic showed minimal cytotoxicity, while in acute toxicity studies in rats it did not exhibit any significant toxicity at doses up to 2000 mg/mL/kg. The energy tonic doses between 100 and 10 μg/mL were shown to stimulate secretion of cytokines and increase sIL-2R levels in PHA-treated PBMCs. Similar doses in PG-S. aureus-stimulated PBMCs significantly () increased IL-1α, IL-2, and GM-CSF while causing a significant () decrease in sIL-2R levels. NF-κβ transcriptional activity was increased in LPS stimulated THP-1 cells. In Sprague Dawley rats pretreated with the energy tonic and then infected with S. aureus, there were insignificant increases in cytokines and sIL-2R when compared to bacteria infected only and 5% Enrofloxacin treated rats. Posttreatment with energy tonic doses after infection with S. aureus did not enhance inflammatory cytokines significantly but changed the immune response profile and decreased corticosterone levels. This ATM showed promising immunomodulatory effects on isolated immune cells and modulated the immune response of rat models infected with S. aureus.