Protease activity in seeds commonly used as herbal medicine
The protease activity of medicinal seeds commonly used in Pakistan on empirical basis or in medicinal context for cure of gastrointestinal diseases was determined. Most of the samples analyzed, exhibited high protease activity and thus their use as cures of said diseases sounds rational. Carum copticum (Ajwain) potentially effective in gastrointestinal diseases was associated with the highest protease activity out of the samples analyzed. Next in this potential was Punica glantum (Anardana), Carum copticum, being with the highest potential and Allium sepa (Pias seeds) being a parallel subject of the study with Carum copticum in the pilot research program, were subjected to further investigation. Their characteristics such as effect of pH, temperature and prolonged heating on protease activity were determined. Former was found active both in acidic and alkaline medium (pH optimum 3 and 7), while latter was effective in the alkaline medium only (pH optimum 10). It was, thus, concluded that Carum copticum was effective in stomach and small intestine, while Allium sepa was effective only in small intestine as digestive aid to humans. The temperature optimum of both Carum copticum and Allium sepa protease was 70°C. It, being cell bound, seemed more thermostable than the protease already reported in literature.