THE ANTI-MALARIA ACTIVITY OF CRUDE LEAF EXTRACT OF PHYLLANTUS AMARUS AND
SOLANUM NIGRUM ON PLASMODIUM BERGHEI INFECTED MICE.
1.1 Medicinal Plant
Medicinal plants are various plants which can have medicinal properties. Plants in most developing countries, as a basis for promoting and maintenance of good health, has been widely recognized (UNESCO, 1996).
Historically, plants have provided a source of inspiration for novel drug compounds, as plant derived medicines have made large contributions to human health and well being (Igbinosa et al., 2009). Different plant parts have also been used for various forms of diseases and infections. Traditional medicine is the oldest method of curing diseases and infections and various plants have been used in different parts of the world to treat human diseases and infections (Nweze et al., 2004; Vineela and Elizabeth, 2005; Ekpo and Etim, 2009).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2002), traditional medicine using plant extracts continues to provide health coverage for over 80% of the world’s population, especially in the developing world and, in African countries; this rate is much higher. In recent years, however, medicinal plants have represented a primary health source for the pharmaceutical industry (Ajose, 2007). No less than 400 compounds derived from plants are currently used in the preparation of drugs, such as vincristine and vinblastine used in the treatment of cancer (Ajose, 2007).
Recently, some higher plant products have attracted the attention of microbiologists to search for some phytochemicals for their exploitation as antimicrobials, such plant products would be biodegradable and safe to human health (Kumar et al., 2008; Sugar et al., 2008; Krishnamurthy et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2010).
Furthermore, the increasing awareness on the use of medicinal plants in industrialized countries has been traced to the development of several drugs and chemotherapeutics from the traditionally used herbs (UNESCO, 1998). Nigerians still depend largely on crude herbal remedies or traditional medicine. They also use wild plants for cosmetics and perfumery. Some of these herbal remedies have been observed to be effective in certain skin diseases (Ajose, 2007). Medicinal plants are known to owe their curative potentials to certain biological active substances, which exist in parts of the plants.