, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 23-37

Towards the scientific validation of traditional medicinal plants

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Abstract

A large proportion of the population of developing countries usestraditional medicine alone, or in combination with Western drugs to treat awide variety of ailments. There has seldom been effective collaborationbetween the traditional and Western medical practitioners, largely due tothe perception that the use of traditional and herbal medicines has noscientific basis. With the renewed interest from Western countries in herbalremedies, and the increasingly urgent need to develop new effective drugs,traditionally used medicinal plants have recently received the attention ofthe pharmaceutical and scientific communities. This involves the isolationand identification of the secondary metabolites produced by the plants andused as the active principles in medical preparations. Research into thescientific validation of southern African medicinal plants used in thetreatment of pain and inflammation, hypertension and parasitic diseasesincluding those with anthelmintic, anti-amoebic, anti-bacterial and anti-bilharzia activity, is the current focus of studies conducted at the ResearchCentre for Plant Growth and Development.