Ramar Perumal Samya, Mohan Sarumathib and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthuc
" Venom and Toxin Research Programme, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, MD 10, 4 Medical Drive, National University of Singapore, Singapore-117597 ''Department of Medical Biochemistry, Dr. ALM Post Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Madras, Taramani, Chennai - 600113, India.
' Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College (Autonomous), Chennai - 600 034, India
Since time immemorial, folk medicinal plants have been used to cure human ailments. Up till now, traditional healers (present in tribes) are using plants for the preparation of various herbal drugs based on their own traditional methods without any scientific basis. There were 6000 species of medicinal plants used by folk practitioners during 1985-1990 in India. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 herbal formulations were developed from4600 tribal communities. Many of these formulations have been used to treat cold, inflammation, snake bite, mental illness and skin diseases, as well as for birth control and delivery of babies. A leaf paste obtained from Clistanthus colinuswas is used to commit suicide by tribes in many native settlements. The leaf paste obtained from Phyllanthus amarus is used as herbal therapy for jaundice . Medicinal plants have been used to treat a wide range of human diseases because of their therapeutic values , A large proportion of the population in Uganda still rely on the use of herbal remedies against measles, a killer disease of children.
Knowledge derived from the use of traditional medicines has indeed played a crucial role in the research and development of plant derived-drugs in the commercial market. Recently, researchers have reported the antimicrobial activity of traditional medicinal plants worldwide. Osmitopsis asteriscoides, a medicinal plant used in traditional drug preparations in South Africa, has been evaluated for antimicrobial activity against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus mdPseudomonas aeruginosa . The antimicrobial potential of Carpobrotus species (Aizoaceae) extracts was tested against S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, C. albicans and Mycobacterium smegmatis . The efficacy of Warburgia ugandensis and Zanthoxylum chalybeum against common bacteria and fungi have also been investigated . The oil obtained from the bark of Santiria trimera widely used by the traditional healers for wound healing  has also been investigated. Most people in South Africa with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) first seek help from traditional healers
. Moreover, ethnobotanical investigations on the medicinal uses of Combretum (Combretaceae) and Terminalia species have shown the potential of medical applications against various bacterial infections such as gonorrhoea, syphilis, diarrhoea, hypertension and cancer. Antimicrobial screening of crude extracts of selected Combretum and Terminalia species were performed by the agar-diffusion method
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