Bauhinia racemosa Lam. (Caesalpiniaceae) leaves have been used in the treatment of asthma traditionally and we therefore undertook this study to scientifically validate its benefit in asthma using suitable animal models. Antihistaminic principles are known to be useful in the treatment of asthma; hence, in the present work, the antihistaminic activity of an ethanol extract of B. racemosa (at a dose of 50 mg/kg, i.p.) was assessed using clonidine-induced catalepsy and haloperidol-induced catalepsy in Swiss albino mice. The results showed that the ethanol extract inhibits clonidine-induced catalepsy but there is no effect on haloperidol-induced catalepsy. This suggests that the inhibition is through an antihistaminic action and that there is no role of dopamine. Hence, we concluded that the ethanol extract has significant antihistaminic activity. The polar constituents in the ethanol extract of leaves of B. racemosa may be responsible for the antihistaminic activity and B. racemosa may therefore have a role in the treatment of asthma.
Key words: Antihistaminic, asthma, Bauhinia racemosa, catalepsy, clonidine.