Natural products have been, and have remained the cornerstone of health care. Present estimates show that 80% of the world’s population still rely on traditional medicine for their health care needs (Farnsworth et al. 1985).
It is estimated that there are between 200 000 and 700 000 species of tropical flowering plants that have medicinal properties, this has made traditional medicine relatively cheaper than modern medicine. Over the years there have been alarming reports of multiple drug resistant in medically important strains of bacteria and fungi (Gill, 1992). The persistent increase in antibiotic resistant strains of organisms has led to development of more potent synthetic antibiotics such as the 3rd and 4th generations of cephalosporins by pharmaceutical companies. These new antibiotics are scarce, costly and not affordable particularly in the developing countries and therefore make compliance difficult. There is therefore need for continuous search for new effective and affordable antimicrobial drugs. Local medicinal plants provide a source of new possible antimicrobial drugs (Iwu, 1993). Among plants believed traditionally to have therapeutic effect but which receives little or less scientific research is Enantia chlorantha. Traditionally the bark extract is applied to ulcers and leprous spots for quick healing, decoction is used for washing wounds, bark sap is taken as decoction against diarrhea (Nostro et al. 2000).
Much attention has been recently directed towards plant extracts and biologically active compounds isolated from plants. The use of medicinal plants play a vital role in combating diseases in developing parts of the world where poverty and drug resistance limit access to, and effectiveness of synthetic drugs for chemotherapy. This study is necessary; coming on the heels of an explosion of trado-medicine in Nigeria, as plant-based drugs are seen marketed and sold on the street, offices and even on radio and television. With strong claims being made by trado-medical practitioners about these plants treating a wide array of diseases. Worthy of note is the large number of people who patronize the practitioner without concern to the potency and safety of the said plant product.
The advantages of herbal medicine over orthodox drugs include; minimal or no side effect, consistence potency and the fact that they are well absorbed and distributed in the area of infection. The success story of chemotherapy lies in the continuous search for the new drugs to counter the challenges posed by resistant strains of microorganisms. Natural products of higher plants may provide a new source of antimicrobial agents with potentially novel mechanisms of action. Secondary metabolites from higher plants could serves as defense agents against invading microorganisms (Oyagade et al., 1999).
Studies have reported the possible use of the plant in conditions such as rickettsia fever, cough and wounds, typhoid fever and infective hepatitis or jaundice (Gill, 1992). It has also been revealed that the plant possesses antipyretic as well as antimicrobial and anti-malarial activities (Adesokan et al., 2007). In Cameroon, stem bark extract of Enantia chlorantha is used to treat jaundice and urinary tract infections (Adjanohoun et al., 1996).
1.1 ENANTIA CHLORANTHA DESCRIPTION
Enantia chlorantha is an ornamental tree belonging to the Annonaceae family commonly known as African yellow wood. It can grow up to 30m high, with dense foliage and spreading crown. It has a fluted and aromatic stem, thick and brown bark with a dark yellow color beneath the bark while the elliptic leaves are about 0.14-0.15m long and 0.05-0.14m broad. It is commonly found in the forest and coastal areas of West Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Vivien et.al, 1985). Enantia chlorantha, locally known as “Erumeru’’ in igbo land; “Awopa”, or “Dokita Igbo” in Yoruba land helps in the treatment of yellow fever infections. The plant is used in trado-medicine for the treatment of conditions such as rickettsia fever, typhoid fever and infective hepatitis (Fasola et.al, 2011).