BackgroundMedicinal plants have been a major source of therapeutic agents from ancient times to cure diseases. The evaluation of rich heritage of traditional medicine is essential. The bark of Terminalia arjuna is rich in polyphenols (60–70%) including flavonoids and tannins. AimThe aim of the present investigation is to highlight the anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic potential of extracts of T. arjuna. Subject and methodsIn this experiment we have used human lymphocyte culture and bone marrow cells of albino mice as assay system. The parameters studied included chromosomal aberrations (CA), sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and cell growth kinetics (RI) both in the presence and in the absence of exogenous metabolic activation system for in vitro experiment, whereas total aberrant cells and the total frequencies of aberrations were taken for in vivo study. ResultsThe role of T. arjuna extracts in reducing metaphase aberrations due to aflatoxin B1 is quite significant, the reduction varying from 23.49%, 42.47%, and 59.65% down to 12.32%, 28.00%, and 36.88% respectively at the highest dose (TA4) for the three different durations viz., 24, 48 and 72h. Similarly the number of sister chromatid exchanges got reduced from a higher level of 15.00±1.40 per cell to 7.70±0.50 per cell with S9 mix at 48h of treatment. The replication index was enhanced from 1.33 to 1.55 in vitro. Similar trends were noticed in the in vivo experiments i.e., effective reductions in clastogeny ranging from 15.22% to 54.82% from the mutagen treated positive control and the total frequencies in aberrant cells got reduced from 429 due to AFB1 to 141 due to 5th concentration of Terminalia extracts at 32h of exposure. ConclusionThe ameliorating potential of Terminalia extracts was dose and time dependant.