Tag Archives: ethnopharmacology

Medicinal Plant Knowledge of the Magar & Majhi People of Western Nepal

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An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by ethnic people in Parbat district of western Nepal

Malla B, Gauchan DP, Chhetri RB
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 May 13;165:103-17
PubMed PMID: 25571849

Parbat District, Nepal
Parbat District, Nepal [Source: Hégésippe Cormier, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from Kathmandu University conducted an ethnobotanical study to investigate and document traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses by the Magar and Majhi indigenous peoples of Parbat district in Western Nepal.

Paris polyphylla
Paris polyphylla (Source: Alnus, Wikimedia Commons)

Using questionnaire, field observation, personal interviews and group discussion with more than 300 local people, including 15 local healers, the team documented 132 ethnomedicinal plant species used to treat various diseases and disorders including gastrointestinal, parasitic and hepatobiliary disorders; and blood and lymphatic system disorders, among others. Two species, Paris polyphylla and Bergenia ciliata, were confirmed as the best plants with medicinal properties. The authors also consulted with the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (KATH) to identify the medicinal plant species.

In their conclusion, the authors note that the Magar and Majhi people are rich in ethnomedicinal knowledge, with current use and knowledge are still strong, and urge preservation of both knowledge and habitat:

“The present study showed that the two ethnic communities depend on a variety of plants to meet their requirements and to cure various diseases. Different plant parts are used for medicinal preparation, mode of administration, medicinal doses and other human consumption. However, their understanding and use of the medicinal plants grounds on traditional beliefs. So, the plant with medicinal properties must be chemically investigated for correct identification of bioactive compounds which can be further used for designing drugs. This will be a great contribution for pharmaceutical and herbal industries in Nepal. Our findings revealed that human encroachment such as unplanned development works, [habitat] loss, over exploitation of medicinal plants are the root causes of diminution of highly potent medicinal plants. An appropriate conservation planning is most essential to preserve the medicinal biodiversity in Parbat district. To preserve the plants in natural habitat, it is essential to establish medicinal gardens for ex-situ conservation by mobilizing the local ethnic people. In-situ conservation will help highly usable and depleting species by propagating, reintroducing, regularly monitoring and evaluating processes. Reported medicinal plants need to be systematically screened through phytochemical and pharmacological for potential bioactive compounds. Experimental validation of these remedies may help in developing new drugs which can be used to cure inevitable disease such as cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s and HIV.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.




Plants Used as Medicine & Food in the Basque Country

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Medicinal and local food plants in the south of Alava (Basque Country, Spain)

Alarcόn R, Pardo-de-Santayana M, Priestley C, Morales R, Heinrich M
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Oct 16
PubMed PMID: 26481607

Researchers at the University of London School of Pharmacy, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, and Real Jardín Botánico conducted an ethnobotanical study of local and traditional plant usage in the Alava region of the Basque Country, to evaluate their uses as food and medicine.

Province of Álava, Spain
Province of Álava, Spain [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
The region has large areas of forest and undisturbed regions with high levels of biodiversity, including two nature reserves, Valderejo Natural Park and Izki Natural Park.

Based on interviews and field walking and collection of samples as directed by the local participants, the team identified 184 species used as medicines, food, and health food. Of these, 36 species were used exclusively for medicinal purposes, reflecting an important overlap between food and medicines:

“This calls into question an important paradigm in ethnopharmacology, and we need to consider ways to present medicinal and food properties in an integrated way. Our informants generally do not draw a very strict line between food and medicinal plants, highlighting the ambivalent nature of these two categories. The majority of the informants recognise that food plants can prevent or heal disease or “cleanse” the body.”

Jasonia glutinosa
Jasonia glutinosa [Source: Juan José Girón Ruiz, Wikimedia Commons]
Among the plants that illustrate this overlap between food and medicines are three species that are commonly used as important social beverages: Jasonia glutinosa, Chamaemelum nobile, and Prunus spinosa.

From the conclusion:

“There is no sharp line dividing local food and medicine. This is a culturally constructed division and also influenced by environmental conditions, cultural background, traditional knowledge of the natural resources (useful plants in this case), education, economy, political movements, etc. From the analysis it also becomes apparent that these categories are dynamic. The preparations are characterized by having multiple methods of preparations and flexibility to use under subcategories of food and medicinal properties.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

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Ethnobotany of the Lukomir Highlanders of Bosnia & Herzegovina

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An ethnobotany of the Lukomir Highlanders of Bosnia & Herzegovina

Ferrier J, Saciragic L, Trakić S, Chen EC, Gendron RL, Cuerrier A, Balick MJ, Redžić S, Alikadić E, Arnason JT
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2015 Nov 25;11:81
PubMed Central PMC4658798

Village of Lukomir
Village of Lukomir (Bosnia and Herzegovina) [Source: Martin Brož, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers at the University of Ottawa, The New York Botanical Garden, Emcarta Inc., the University of Sarajevo, the Université de Montréal, and Foundation GEA+ conducted an ethnobotanical study of the traditional knowledge and use of wild medicinal plants by the Highlanders of Lukomir, Bjelašnica (Bosnia and Herzegovina), an indigenous community of transhumant pastoralist families inhabiting a remote and highly biodiverse region of the Balkans.

Mentha longifolia
Mentha longifolia [Source: Michael Becker, Wikimedia Commons]
Based on field work involving interviews during which participants described plants, natural product remedies, and preparation methods on field trips, garden tours, while shepherding and in other settings, the team identified 58 species cited in medicinal, food, and material use reports. Ten of those species (or subspecies of which) had not previously been reported in systematic ethnobotanical surveys of medicinal plant use the region: Elymus repens, Euphorbia myrsinites, Jovibarba hirta, Lilium bosniacum, Matricaria matricarioides, Phyllitis scolopendrium, Rubus saxatilis, Silene uniflora, Silene uniflora, and Smyrnium perfoliatum. Maximum consensus of medicinal use was obtained on two species: Mentha longifolia and Salvia officinalis.

Medicinal uses included genitourinary system disorders, panacea, pain, and circulatory system disorders (high frequency) and skin/subcutaneous cellular tissue disorders, respiratory system disorders, and ill-defined symptoms (medium frequency).

From the conclusion:

“Although post war development has contributed to the erosion of the self-sustaining traditional lifestyle of the Lukomir Highlanders, our results demonstrate that they continue to have a strong traditional medicine and gathered food system. This traditional knowledge must continue to be valued and maintained in planning for a durable, self-sufficient future for the Lukomir Highlanders. In addition, special emphasis should be placed on the preservation of the vodenica mlini (hydro cereal mills) – a unique cultural technology and visitor attraction that contributes to a traditionally healthy diet and lifestyle.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Ethnomedicinal Knowledge of the Indigenous People of Malda District, West Bengal

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Indigenous knowledge of plants in local healthcare management practices by tribal people of Malda district, India

Saha MR, Sarker DD, Kar P, Gupta PS, Sen A
J Intercult Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Oct-Dec;3(4):179-85
PubMed Central PMC4576813

Malda District, West Bengal, India
Malda District, West Bengal, India [Source: GDibyendu, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from the University of North Bengal conducted an ethnobotanical study aimed at exploring the indigenous knowledge of native tribes on the utilization of wild plant species for local healthcare management in Malda district of West Bengal.

From the Introduction:

“The region is covered with plentiful natural vegetation, which makes it verdant. River beds, ponds, marshy land etc. are good habitats for the wetland undergrowth. Most of the remote villages are covered by jungles, which consist chiefly of thorny scrub bush and large trees showing wide distribution of flora. The soil of the western region of the district is particularly suited to the growth of mulberry and mango, for which Malda has become famous. Various ethnic communities, including Santala, Rajbanshi, Namasudre, Polia, Oraon, Mundas, Malpaharias etc. are the inhabitants of this region. Of these Santala, Oraon is different from others due to their unique culture and tradition. They are quite popular to treat several types of local ailments of human and veterinary purposes.”

Consulting with traditional healers and practitioners, the team documented 53 medicinal plants frequently used to treat 44 types of ailments.

Andrographis paniculata
Andrographis paniculata [Source: J.M. Garg, Wikimedia Commons]
Predominant among the most important medicinal plants used in the treatment of several diseases are Andrographis paniculata, Amaranthus spinosus, Alstonia scholaris, Cuscuta reflexa, Jatropha gossypiifolia, Caesalpinia crista, Tamarindus indica and Sida rhombifolia.

Azoospermia was the most commonly treated disease, followed by different types of pains, ankle sprain, diabetes, dysentery, inflammation, menstrual disorder, rheumatism, skin disorders and leucorrhea.

This first study of ethnomedicinal knowledge of the ethnic people of Malda district could be a crucial first step toward the conservation of cultural traditions and biodiversity in the region:

“Now-a-days the traditional knowledge is in the way of erosion due to environmental degradation, deforestation, agricultural expansion and population pressure. Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and their use by indigenous cultures are not only useful for conservation of cultural traditions and biodiversity but also for community healthcare and drug development at present and in the future. Therefore, recording of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants is an urgent task.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healers in Zimbabwe for the Treatment of Malaria

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Medicinal plants used by traditional healers for the treatment of malaria in the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe

Ngarivhume T, Van’t Klooster CI, de Jong JT, Van der Westhuizen JH
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Jan 15;159:224-37
PubMed PMID 25449454

Researchers at Walter Sisulu University, University of Amsterdam and University of the Free State conducted an explorative ethnobotanical survey of the Chipinge district in Zimbabwe to document how malaria is conceptualized and diagnosed by traditional healers from the Ndau people, and to record the medicinal plants used in the prevention and treatment of malaria, their mode of preparation and administration.

Cassia abbreviata
Cassia abbreviata [Source: Jeppestown, Wikimedia Commons]
Based on interviews with 14 traditional healers from four villages (selected with the assistance of the headman of the Muzite area and a representative of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association), the team identified 28 plants used by the healers to manage malaria. Cassia abbreviata was the species cited most often, followed by Aristolochia albida and Toddalia asiatica.

The traditional healers, while aware of the pitfalls of appropriation, chose to work with the investigators:

“The healers were aware of the possibility of unfair bioprospecting practices from institutions such as pharmaceutical companies and were concerned about legal protection of their intellectual property and a possible lack of proper compensation, similar to the findings described by Uprety et al. (2012) amongst the aborigines of Canada. We were thus surprised by the absence of significant resistance from the healers to supply us with traditional knowledge and plant material. We attribute this to the involvement of the local headman and ZINATHA and the prior informed-consent forms that explained the objectives, benefits, risks and general procedures of the survey in Shona before the start of the project.”

In their conclusion, the authors suggest priorities for further research and development:

“The data gathered in this survey could assist in identifying plant species and extraction methods to develop herbal drugs against malaria in Zimbabwe. The most widely used plants for the treatment of malaria reported in this study such as Cassia abbreviata and Aristolochia albida should be prioritized for further research. In vitro screening programmes, based on this and other ethnobotanical study results, could be important in validating the traditional use of herbal remedies and for providing leads in the search for new active principles…. Scientific validation of herbal medicine may eventually lead to more widespread use of traditional medicines in cheaper health care systems, as in India and China, provided that thorough toxicological investigations, clinical studies and randomized controlled trials are carried out. African traditional knowledge and medicine thus have the potential to play a large role in primary healthcare, particularly in poor and isolated rural areas. This underscores the value of traditional knowledge and the need to collect and preserve traditional health practices.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Antimicrobial Activity of Medicinal Plants Used in South Central Ethiopia

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In vitro antimicrobial activity of plants used in traditional medicine in Gurage and Silti Zones, south central Ethiopia

Teka A, Rondevaldova J, Asfaw Z, Demissew S, Van Damme P, Kokoska L, Vanhove W
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Aug 18;15:286
PubMed Central PMC4539890

Investigators at Ghent University, Addis Ababa University and Czech University of Life Sciences Prague conducted in vitro antimicrobial analysis of medicinal plant species selected according to their traditional medicinal uses in south central Ethiopia.

From the Background:

“Numerous biochemical compounds obtained from medicinal plants possess important antimicrobial properties. Application of these compounds is preferred over synthetic drugs as they have long been used in traditional medicine and are considered safe to humans. New and effective antimicrobials identified from plants can consequently be considered in development of new drugs to combat problems associated with drug resistance. Using effective plant extracts to control human diseases has the additional advantage of low production cost, minimal environmental damage and higher accessibility to rural communities. Hence, medicinal plants are expected to be the future alternative source of new antimicrobial products.”

Based on use reports of local informants and traditional herbalists from the study area for treatment of ailments caused by microbial agents, the team selected 15 plant species for analysis: Apodytes dimidiata, Asparagus africanus, Bersama abyssinica, Cucumis ficifolius, Gladiolous abyssinicus, Guizotia schimperi, Lippia adoensis, Olinia rochetiana, Pavonia urens, Premna schimperi, Pittosporum viridiflorum, Polygala sadebeckiana, Sida rhombifolia, Solanum incanum and Thunbergia ruspolii.

The in vitro analysis found that A. africanus, G. schimperi, L. adoensis and P. schimperi were active against Candida albicans, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus aureus. In particular, strong antibacterial activity was observed for G. schimperi extract against 17 resistant and sensitive Staphylococcus strains, at a concentration comparable to standard antibiotics.

The authors recommend that the usefulness of these plants, in particular G. schimperi, should be confirmed through further phytochemical and toxicity analyses.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Ethnomedicines of region surrounding Ayubia National Park, Himalayan Pakistan

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Ethnomedicines of highly utilized plants in the temperate Himalayan region

Begum S, AbdEIslam NM, Adnan M, Tariq A, Yasmin A, Hameed R
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2014 Apr 3;11(3):132-42
PubMed Central PMC4202431

Researchers from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Arriyadh Community College of King Saud University and Kohat University of Science and Technology conducted a study of indigenous knowledge of highly utilized medicinal plants in in Nathiagali and adjoining villages surrounding Ayubia National Park, a temperate Himalayan forest region of northwestern Pakistan.

Bergenia ciliata
Bergenia ciliata [Source: Magnus Manske, Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented 43 medicinal plants used as antipyretics, for gastrointestinal disorders and for other ethnomedicinal purposes. Among the most valuable species from the perspective of the local population are Bergenia ciliata, Hedera nepalensis and Viola canescens.

In their conclusion, the authors note that the older people of the region, particularly the women, have much ethnomedicinal knowledge that has been transferred from their parents, but that the younger generation is totally ignorant about this traditional knowledge and that the plants themselves are under severe threat from overexploitation, improper collection, grazing and deforestation. They recommend training to help the medicinal plant collectors avoid losses and reforestation in the region as a way forward for the recovery of medicinal plants as well as cultivation trials under an agroforestry system.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Biomedicines of the Rongmei tribe of Manipur, India

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Indigenous traditional knowledge and usage of folk bio-medicines among Rongmei tribe of Tamenglong district of Manipur, India

Prakash N, Ansari MA, Punitha P, Sharma PK
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2014 Apr 3;11(3):239-47
PubMed Central PMC4202445

Tamenglong District (Manipur, India)
Tamenglong District (Manipur, India) [Source: Abhijitsathe, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research conducted a field survey to document and preserve ethnomedicinal knowledge of the indigenous Rongmei tribe of the village of Charoi Chagotlong (Tamenglong district, Manipur, India).

Justicia adhatoda/Adhatoda vasica
Justicia adhatoda/Adhatoda vasica [Source: ShineB, Wikimedia Commons]
The team identified 60 species of plants used for medicinal purposes, including Adhatoda vasica, Centella asiatica, Dioscorea bulbifera, Dioscorea pentaphylla, Eryngium foetidum, Euphorbia antiquarum, Ficus retusa, Michelia champaca, Oroxylum indicum, Rhus semialata, Zanthoxylum acanthopodium, and Zingiber officinale.

From the paper’s Discussion section:

“The villagers expressed concern at the possible loss of native plant species and indigenous traditional knowledge about the utility and usefulness of different plant species. They attributed it to strong dis-interest shown by the youths in the acquisition of traditional knowledge from the village elders. This decrease in usage of native species of edible plants is likely to continue in the future as more non native edible plants are made easily available to them in nearby shops. Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants can provide leads for further scientific studies on species and genetic diversification with certain desirable traits that can be used or transferred into the modern biomedicine for prevention and cure of certain chronic diseases. It is important not only to put such traditional knowledge on record and conduct further studies, but also to take steps to conserve the species and genetic diversity of folk biomedicine before they are lost to humans.”

The authors recommend focused efforts to promote the preservation of ethnomedicinal knowledge within the Rongmei community and exploration of their biomedicines for the prevention and cure of various human diseases.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Pakistani Medicinal Plants as Antibacterial Agents against Escherichia coli

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Ethnomedicinal and phytochemical review of Pakistani medicinal plants used as antibacterial agents against Escherichia coli

Adnan M, Bibi R, Mussarat S, Tariq A, Shinwari ZK
Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2014 Aug 19;13:40
PubMed Central PMC4236513

Researchers from Kohat University of Science and Technology and Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad conducted a review of literature on antibacterial activities of Pakistani medicinal plants against Escherichia coli, a gram-negative pathogen responsible for urinary tract and gastrointestinal infections in humans.

From the Introduction:

“Emergence of multiple drug resistant bacterial strains due to indiscriminate use of antibiotics has generated a keen interest in the discovery of effective plants derived drugs. E. coli are showing increased resistance to different antibiotics like amoxicillin and trimethoprim. Hence, searching of alternative and effective medicines from plants against such resistant bacteria has become an important concern all over the world. Antibiotics on one side became ineffective to bacterial strains but also costly for the poor communities of developing world. Furthermore, the antibiotics may be associated with adverse effects including hypersensitivity and immune suppression. Therefore, this review was designed with the aim to (i) compile the available fragmented literature on anti-E. coli effect of Pakistani medicinal plants, and (ii) suggest measures on newer and safer herbal drugs for the diseases caused by the E. coli. Furthermore, this review will provide knowledge on ethnomedicines and phytochemistry of those Pakistani medicinal plants having anti-E. coli potential. Above all, this review will provide baseline information for chemists, pharmacists and pharmacologists to carry out in-depth in-vitro and in-vivo activities for the development of novel drugs against E. coli with low cost and less side effects on living system.”

Althaea officinalis
Althaea officinalis [source: Wikimedia Commons – Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen]
The authors report on 34 Pakistani medicinal plants with in-vitro anti-E. coli activity, including Althaea officinalis, Azadirachta indica, Calotropis procera, Carum copticum, Cichorium intybus, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Cistanche tubulosa, Delonix regia, Dodonaea viscosa, Justicia adhatoda, Malva neglecta, Mentha longifolia, Viscum album and Withania somnifera.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Nigerian Ethnomedicines Used Against Tuberculosis – A Collaborative Assessment

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Some Nigerian anti-tuberculosis ethnomedicines: a preliminary efficacy assessment

Ibekwe NN, Nvau JB, Oladosu PO, Usman AM, Ibrahim K, Boshoff HI, Dowd CS, Orisadipe AT, Aiyelaagbe O, Adesomoju AA, Barry CE 3rd, Okogun JI; collaboration with 73 Visited Herbalists
J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Aug 8;155(1):524-32
PubMed Central PMC4154137

Investigators from the Nigerian National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, University of Ibadan, U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Pax Herbal Clinic & Research Laboratories, George Washington University, and Sheda Science and Technology Complex, in collaboration with 73 herbalists, carried out a preliminary modern scientific evaluation of the efficacy of a number of Nigerian ethnomedicines used by traditional medicine practitioners in the management of tuberculosis and related ailments.

The team collected ethnomedicinal recipes from traditional medicine practitioners in four geographical regions of Nigeria under a collaborative understanding, and screened extracts against Mycobacterium bovis, BCG, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Abrus precatorius
Abrus precatorius [source: Wikimedia Commons, USGS Plants of Hawaii]
They identified 12 plants that screening found to be particularly active: Abrus precatorius, Anogeissus leocarpus [Anogeissus leiocarpa], Cassia siberiana, Combretum molle, Erythrina senegalensis, Garcinia kola, Khaya grandifolia, Pentaclethra macrophylla, Pterocarpus osun, Securidaca longepedunculata, Tapinanthus sessifolia, Terminalia avicennioides, and Tetrapleura tetraptera.

From the conclusion:

“Our study clearly showed that Nigerian herbalists have recipes that have likely been effective to some extent for the management of tuberculosis among the rural population of the Country. The recipes need to be fully analyzed for the purpose of potentially identifying new antituberculosis drug scaffolds and in the process, assist in the standardization of the local antituberculosis herbal recipes. The case has been made for applying ‘omics’ technologies to phytomedicines and traditional recipes which have historically been used over decades or centuries for the treatment of tuberculosis symptoms as a starting point for the discovery of new drugs and drug scaffolds. We anticipate that using ‘omics’ technologies in systems biology approaches combined with chemical informatics of various scaffolds characterized in active at least partially purified extracts, could make studies initiated around plants and indigenous herbal recipes relatively efficient in the rapid identification of new drug leads for tuberculosis…

“The following criteria are recommended for the prioritization of the plants for further studies: (i) potency of the extract based on the MIC values, (ii) published work on the biology and chemistry of the plants, (iii) novelty of information of the plant’s use as anti-TB remedy and (iv) the frequency of occurrence of the plants in the collected recipes. Using these criteria, the following plants are recommended for the initial further studies: Ficus sur, Pavetta crassipes, Combretum molle, Waltheria indica and Crotolaria lachnosema [Crotalaria lachnosema], Anogiessus leocarpus [Anogeissus leiocarpa], Calliandra portoricensis, Cassia sieberiana, Abrus precatorius and Cussonia arborea.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

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