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In this work, total phenolic and flavonoid contents and antioxidant activities in methanol and aqueous extracts of five-high altitude medicinal plants namelyAconogonon tortuosum, Thlaspi arvense, Erysimum bhutanicum, Thalictrum chelidoniiandAletris pauciflorawere studied for the first time from Bhutan. Antioxidant activities were investigated using DPPH radical scavenging activity (DRSA), ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) assays. Significant level of phenolics and flavonoids were found in all medicinal herbs. Among the five plants studied, aqueous extract ofThalictrum chelidoniiand methanol extract ofErysimum bhutanicumshowed best free radical scavenging activity. Both aqueous and methanol extracts ofAconogonon tortuosumshowed strong ferric reducing antioxidant power. The results indicate that all five medicinal herbs could be potential sources of natural antioxidant compounds and could help boost the immune system of patients.

In this study, 71 species of edible medicinal plants belonging to 49 families were identified. These medicinal plants (beside therapeutic applications in Sowa Rigpa medicine) are used as food, fruit and vegetables in Bhutan. Five Himalayan medicinal plants were further studied for their phenolic content and antioxidant activity. Hypecoum leptocarpum Hook. f. & Thompson contained maximum phenolic content. The antioxidant activities were determined by DRSA and FRAP assays from water and methanol extracts. Overall, among five plants investigated, Lepisorus contortus (Christ) Ching, H. leptocarpum and Podophyllum hexandrum Royle gave good yield of phenolics content and best antioxidant activity. This study demonstrates that edible medicinal plants could be a potential source of natural antioxidants that can boost the immune system.