This review examines the recent investigations on the biological activities of extracts and chemicals identified from mangroves (mangroves, mangrove minors and mangal associates). It describes how people have and are using mangroves on a traditional basis. It also describes the world's mangrove resources and products, in terms of their economical importance, medicinal values and other uses and functions. The economical uses of products from mangrove ecosystems are many and varied. Traditionally, the mangroves have been exploited for firewood and charcoal. Use has also been found for mangroves in the construction of dwellings, furniture, boats and fishing gear, tannins for dyeing and leather production. The mangroves provide food and wide variety of traditional products and artefacts for the mangrove dwellers. Extracts and chemicals from mangroves are used mainly in folkloric medicine (e.g. bush medicine), as insecticides and piscicides and these practices continue to this day. However the extraction of novel natural chemical compounds from mangroves, in addition to those already known to the pharmacopoeia of the people is in its infancy. A knowledge of the biological activities and/or chemical constituents of plants is desirable, not only for the discovery of new therapeutic agents, but because such information may be of value in disclosing new sources of already known biologically active compounds. It is of further value to those interested in “deciphering” the actual value of folkloric remedies.
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