Grewia polysaccharide gum as a pharmaceutical excipient
Grewia gum is obtained from the inner stem bark of the edible plant Grewia mollis Juss (Fam. Tiliaceae) which grows widely in the middle belt region of Nigeria, and is also cultivated. The dried and pulverised inner stem bark is used as a thickening agent in some food delicacies in that region of the country. This ability of the material to increase solution viscosity has generated a lot of interest and is the catalysing momentum for this research. Such materials have been used as stabilizers or suspending agents in cosmetics, foods and liquid medications, and as mucoadhesives and controlled release polymeric matrices in solid dosage forms. The physicochemical characterization of candidate excipients forms an essential step towards establishing suitability for pharmaceutical application. For natural gums, this usually requires isolation of the gum from the storage site by extraction processes. Grewia polysaccharide gum was extracted and dried using techniques such as air-drying, freeze-drying or spray-drying. Component analysis of the gum showed that it contains five neutral sugars: glucose, galactose, rhamnose, arabinose and xylose. The gum contains traces of elements such as zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. At low substance weight, the gum hydrates in aqueous medium swelling and dispersing to give a highly viscous dispersion with pseudoplasmic flow behaviour. The method by which drying is achieved can have significant effect on some physicochemical properties of the gum. Consequently, the intrinsic viscosity and molecular weight, and parameters of powder flow were shown to differ with the method of drying. The gum has good thermal stability. In comparison with established excipients, grewia gum may be preferable to gum Arabic or sodium carboxymethylcellulose as a suspending agent in ibuprofen suspension formulations. The release retardant property of the gum was superior to guar and Metolose® in ibuprofen matrices. Similarly, carboxy methylcellulose, Methocel®, gum Arabic or Metolose® may not be preferable to grewia gum when controlled release of a soluble drug like cimetidine is indicated. The mucoadhesive performance of the gum compared favourably with excellent mucoadhesives such as hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, carboxymethylcellulose, guar and carbopol 971 P.
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