A STUDY OF THE PHARMACOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF METHANOL EXTRACT OF RIPE AND UNRIPE PLANTAIN

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to Study

Natural products, such as plants extract, either as pure compounds or as standardized extracts, provide unlimited opportunities for new drug discoveries because of the unmatched availability of chemical diversity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of the world’s population relies on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs. The use of herbal medicines in Asia represents a long history of human interactions with the environment. Plants used for traditional medicine contain a wide range of substances that can be used to treat chronic as well as infectious diseases. Due to the development of adverse effects and microbial resistance to the chemically synthesized drugs, men turned to ethnopharmacognosy. They found literally thousands of phytochemicals from plants as safe and broadly effective alternatives with less adverse effect. Many beneficial biological activity such as anticancer, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antidiarrheal, analgesic and wound healing activity were reported. In many cases the people claim the good benefit of certain natural or herbal products. However, clinical trials are necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of a bioactive compound to verify this traditional claim. Clinical trials directed towards understanding the pharmacokinetics, bioavailability, efficacy, safety and drug interactions of newly developed bioactive compounds and their formulations (extracts) require a careful evaluation. Clinical trials are carefully planned to safeguard the health of the participants as well as answer specific research questions by evaluating for both immediate and long-term side effects and their outcomes are measured before the drug is widely applied to patients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 20,000 medicinal plants exist in

91 countries including 12 mega biodiversity countries. The premier steps to utilize the biologically active compound from plant resources are extraction, pharmacological screening, isolation and characterization of bioactive compound, toxicological evaluation and clinical evaluation.