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PHYTOCHEMICAL AND ANTIMICROBIAL STUDIES OF THE LEAVES EXTRACT OF PILIOSTIGMA THONNINGII SCHUM Milne - Redh (FABACEAE)

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 Sep 22, 2022 |  04:01 pm |  6



 PHYTOCHEMICAL AND ANTIMICROBIAL STUDIES OF THE LEAVES EXTRACT OF PILIOSTIGMA THONNINGII SCHUM Milne - Redh (FABACEAE)

1.1 General Introduction

Man have been using medicinal preparations derived from plants and other sources like animals and minerals from time immemorial, the practice being as old as man himself. The use of medicinal plants have passed through several developmental stages from crude and to the present day drugs like tablets, capsules, injections, ointments, creams, etc.This then make it difficult for the present day man to say exactly when the use of plants in medicines started. However, records of the use of plants in traditional medicines by the ancient civilisation like the Chinese, Greek, Indians and  the Babylonians are  still  in existence. 


There are  still some books or texts that show that the Egyptians  were  in possession of a good knowledge of plants in traditional medicines, they have recognised the important values of castor oil, dates, garlic and honey (Snowdon and Cliver, 1996).

Ancient texts of India and China contain exhaustive depictions of the use of a variety of plant-derived  medications  (Ahmed  et  al.,  2006).  The  Chinese  Emperor  Shen  Nung published a book on herbs in 370BC. Also an Apothecary by the name Theophrastus born in Athens in the present day Greece around 370BC also published a compendium on the uses of close to 500 medicinal plants. In fact, plants remain the main source of medicines for a large proportion of the world’s population, particularly in the third world countries (Barnes, et al., 2008). 


Man had continued to use traditional medicines from civilisation to civilisation. Recently evidence that proves the uses of plants as drugs were excavated from caves in Texas, United States of America, a fossil remains of Lephophora williamsii used by American – Indians were found and dated back to as far as about 7000BC (Plowman,1984).  The  use  of  plants  remains  undisputed  despite  the  advent  of  the Pharmaceutical Chemistry during the early twentieth century, which brought with it the ability to synthesize an enormous variety of drug molecules and thereby allowed the treatment  of  previously incurable  and/or  life-threatening  diseases  (Farnsworth  et  al., 1984).


The use of herbal medicines in India dated back to about 5000 years, this was recorded in Ayurveda  which  contained  over  8,000  herbal  recipes.  The  same  ancient  method  of treatment is still in use in over 14,000 dispensaries, traditional medicine is still widely acceptable  despite  the  fact  that  it  is  limited  by  lack  of  precise  diagnosis,  


hygiene, standardisation,  ethics  in dosing and  sometimes  claims or  exaggerated  claims  which cannot  be  proven  scientifically  (Elujoba,  1999,  Shok,  1999).  Although  chemically synthesized drug have also gained popularity and became the basis of Pharmaceutical industries. 


Over the years, however, synthetic drugs have been hijacked by unwanted side- effects, toxicity, high cost and inefficiency, among other problems. Also the search for new drugs against a variety of illnesses through chemical synthesis and other modern approaches has not been too successful. 


These factors, as well as the emergence of new infectious diseases, the proliferation of disorders such as cancer and growing multidrug resistance in pathogenic microorganisms, have prompted renewed interest in the research and discovery of potential drug molecules from medicinal plants (Arjun Patra, et. al, 2010). 


These information and many others coming out daily make the uses of medicinal plants a continuous one, because drugs from natural sources are less toxic and many are very effective. About half of the world medicinal compounds are derived from plants. 


Medicinal products from plants are generally more important in developing countries than in developed and industrialized world as 75 – 90 % of the world’s rural populations rely comfortably on  herbal  medicines  (Hamann,  1988). This  high  dependence  on  herbal medicines and the use of medicinal plants as sources of semi synthetic drugs lead to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to carry out a study of medicinal plants in 1978, this work lead to the identification of about 20,000 new species of medicinal plants, (Zamora- Martinez, 1992).


Traditional medicines are recognised and accepted more readily in developing nations because they are more accessible, sometime more effective for some diseases and cheaper than  modern  drugs  (Shok,  1999).  


In  these  nations  the  number  of  modern  health professionals like Pharmacists, Doctors, Nurses, etc are far too low compared  to the population they are to serve. For example at the end of 1972, there was only one Doctor (Physician) per 28,000 people (Djukanovic and Mach, 1975). 


Also traditional medicines evolve from and blend with the socio cultural life of the people that make use of them. In developing countries, traditional medicine is indisputably integral part of the Primary Health Care (PHC), as such an attempt should be made to confirm the efficacy of the traditional herbs and also standardize them. 


This would help tremendously when the economic conditions of the nations are considered. It is obvious that the drug bill for many countries still represent a sizeable proportion of their total expenditure especially in developing countries. These countries have to purchase the drugs at exorbitant and often inflated  costs  from  multinational companies,  which  spend  a  disproportionately large amount of money in advertising in developing countries (Sofowora, 1982). 


However, the use of phytomedicines is not only limited to the developing nations. Countries like the People Republic of China, the main type of drug therapy is still in the form of plants extract (Anonymous, 1998). 


It is therefore disheartening to note that Africans that are situated within the tropical regions and blessed with abundant plant species are making little efforts in standardizing the use of their traditional herbal drugs. It is estimated that over 200,000 out of the 300,000 plant species so far identified in the whole of our planet are in the tropical countries of Africa and elsewhere. Among the potential users of these plants, traditional medicine and are on the top (Adjanahoun et al., 1991).


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