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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1.1

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Plants have very effective and important role to play in oral hygiene. Plants extracts are
continuously being sort for as effective and cheaper alternative sources of medication all over the
world especially in the developing countries. Over the past few decades there has been much
interest in natural materials as sources of new antibacterial agents. Different extracts from
traditional medicinal plants have been tested. Many reports show the effectiveness of traditional
herbs against microorganisms; as a result, plants have become one of the bases of modern
medicine (Evans et al., 2002). Plants have given the Western pharmacopoeia about 7,000
different pharmaceutically important compounds and a number of top-selling drugs of modern
times, such as quinine, artemisinin, shikonin and camptothecin (Tshibangu et al., 2002). The
acceptance of traditional medicine as an alternative form of health care and the development of
microbial resistance to the available antibiotics has led researchers to investigate the
antimicrobial activity of medicinal plants (Bisignano et al., 1996; Lis-Balchin and Deans, 1996;
Maoz and Neeman, 1998; Hammer et al., 1999).
Nature has been the source for medicinal properties from thousands of years and a remarkable
number of modern drugs have been obtained from natural sources, particularly from the plants.
Plant based medicines have played an important role in primary health care needs of human as
well as animals. Variety of plants exhibit antimicrobial properties, due to the presence of some
active compounds like essential oils, flavonoids, terpenoids, tri-terpenoids, glycosides, alkaloids
and other natural phenolic compounds. These natural energetic compounds are usually termed as
secondary metabolites that are not essential for the survival of plants but act as a defensive
mediator for plants.

Silver and Bostian (1993) have documented the use of natural products as new antibacterial
drugs. There is an urgent need to identify novel substances active towards highly resistant
pathogens (Recio, 1989; Cragg et al., 1997). In an effort to discover new compounds, many
research groups screen plant extracts to detect secondary metabolites with the relevant biological
activities. In this regard, several simple bioassays have been developed for screening purposes
(Hostettmann, 1991).
It is thought that herbal remedies have the advantage of combining their active components with
many other substances which appear to be inactive but which give the plant as a whole a level of
safety and efficiency superior to that of its isolated, pure active components; moreover, in
developing countries, synthetic drugs are presently too expensive and also are often adulterated
(Shariff, 2001)
Plumbago zeylanica L. (Plumbaginaceae) is a tropical shrub. It grows wild as a garden plant in
eastern, northern and southern India and Ceylon. The roots and leaves of P. zeylanica are widely
used medicinally in India and China. Traditionally, P. zeylanica is believed to kill intestinal
parasites, and it is used clinically to treat rheumatism, intestinal parasites, anemia due to
"stagnant blood, external and internal trauma, toxic swelling and malignant furunculous scabies
(Jiangsu, 1979).
Vernonia amygdalina commonly called bitter leaf (because of its bitter taste) is consumed either
as a vegetable for cooking African soups or the aqueous extracts could be drank as tonics for the
treatment of various illnesses (Imaga and Bamigbetan, 2003). The bitterness is suspected to be
due to factors such as the presence of alkaloids, saponins, tannins and glycosides which have
been shown by various authors to be present in bitter leaf (Ologunde et al., 1992). In the wild,
chimpanzees have been observed to ingest the leaves Vernonia plants when suffering from

parasitic infections. According to Huffman et al. (1993), Some plants possess antimicrobial
activity against oral microbial flora. This indicates that these chewing sticks (plant), in addition
to providing mechanical stimulation to the gums also destroy microbes present in the mouth.
Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides belongs to the genus Zanthoxylum, sub-family Rutoideae, family
Rutaceae and tribe Xanthoxylaea. An indigenous plant used widely as chewing sticks for teeth
cleansing in West Africa.4 It is well known for its varied uses in trado- medical practice, the root,
root-bark and other parts of the plant are used in treating dental diseases, various medical
problems and biopesticide for stored food protection.
Soursop (Annona muricata L.) is a tropical plant and familiar to the Indonesian certain local
communities. This plant has great benefits for human life which is full with nutrition. In the food
industry soursop can be processed into jam, fruit juice, syrup. Soursop leaves contain flavonoid,
tannin, alcaloid, saponin, calcium, phosphor, carbohydrate, vitamine A, B and C, phytosterol,
calcium oxalate.
These leaves are traditionally used to prevent and treat arthritis, asthma, bronchitis biliary
disorder, diabetic, heart diseases, hypertension, worm disease, liver disorder, malaria,
rheumatism, sedative, tumor, and cancer. The leaves are also used for the treatment of several
types of diseases caused by bacteria such as pneumonia, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, and
other kinds of skin diseases.
Staphylococcus aureus is a gram positive bacteria that is commonly found on human skin and
mucous membranes. This bacteria can cause skin infection. Escherichia coli is a gram negative
bacteria that is commonly found in the human colon. This bacteria is one of the most common
pathogenic bacteria in food causing the primary infection of the intestine such as diarrhea.

1.2

STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

The extract of medicinal plants had been reported to exert antibiotic action against drug resistant
microorganisms and possess antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, anti-helminthic and antiinflammatory activities. In Nigeria, the research for new drugs is on course hence the aim of this
study was to verify the antibacterial activities of medicinal plant like Zanthoxylum
zanthoxyloides, Annonia Muricata, Vernonia amygdalina, and Plumbago Zeylanica against
Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus so as to find an alternative for the common
antibiotics present in use.
1.3

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The aim of this study therefore is to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of Zanthoxylum
zanthoxyloides, Annonia Muricata, Vernonia amygdalina, and Plumbago Zeylanica on
Eschericha Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus and Bacillus Substilis
1.4

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
Global use of medicinal plants
According to World Health Organization (WHO, 2007), medicinal plants are plants in which one
or more of its parts contain substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or which are
precursors for the synthesis of useful drugs. The local use of natural plants for primary health
remedies is a common practice in Asia, Latin American and Africa (Bibitha et al., 2002). Though
many plants are consumed as food without an in-depth knowledge of their exact chemical
composition and contribution to health, their utilization through several generations appear to
justify their use (Ghani et al., 1989). Use of plant extracts or their active principle may serve as
source of new drugs or sources of intermediate compounds for synthesizing analog drugs
(Akerele, 1993).
Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina)
Vernonia amygdalina, a member of the Asteraceae family, is a small ever green shrub that grows
in tropical Africa. It is a shrub of 1 - 3 m in height with petiole leaf of about 6 mm in diameter
and elliptical in shape (Igile et al., 1995). The plant is mostly found in West Africa where the
most used part is its leaves (called bitter leaf). The leaves are dark green in colour with a
characteristic odour and when chewed has a bitter taste but delicious in meals due to its pleasant
nostalgic bitterness when it interacts with protenous ingredients (such as fresh or dry fish) in the
soup. Local names by which the plant is called in Nigeria include: Kiriologbo (in Ijaw); Onugbu
(in Igbo), Ewuro (in Yoruba) and Shiwaka (in Hausa). The leaves are used as soup condiment
and as vegetable after crushing and washing off using water to remove some of the bitterness
(Mayhew and Penny, 1998). Other African soups, in which bitter leaf is used apart from Egusi

soup, include: Ogbono and Okra soups. In many parts of west Africa, the leaves could also be
used for washing slime off fish and snail before cooking while roots and twigs could be used as
chewing-stick. All parts of the plant are pharmacologically suspected to be useful. Both the roots
and leaves are used in the treatment of fever, hiccups, kidney disease and stomach discomfort,
among others (Gill et al., 1992; Homoiona and Saffaf, 1994). The plant is claimed to also exhibit
anti-helmitic and anti-malaria properties (Abosi and Raserika, 2003) as well as anti-tumourgenic
properties (Izevbigie et al., 2004). Locally it is used in treating stomach ache (for immediate
relief). The expressed extract is used in treating skin infection such as ringworm, itching, rashes
and eczema. It is also claimed to cure diabetes, loss of memory, pneumonia and arthritis. Studies
by Oboh and Masodje (2009) indicated that V. amygdalina fresh leaf had moisture content of
830%; dry matter of 1702%; protein 130% and ash content 050%). Its mineral content (per
gram) is Phosphorus 6155 g; Selenium 82 g; Iron 471 g and Zinc 113 g.
Previous research works on Vernonia amygdalina
Indication is that various studies have been carried out on V. amygdalina. Fred et al. (2009),
researched on the nutritional and antimicrobial properties of V. amygdalina leaves. In the same
year, Ibrahim et al. (2009) carried out the assessment of the antibacterial activity of V.
amygdalina and Occimum gratissimum leaves on selected food borne pathogens. The aqueous
and ethanol extracts of these plant leaves were tested against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus
aureus, Bacillus cereus, Shigella dysentriae and Salmonella typhimurium in which the plants
showed antibacterial activity on the entire test isolates. Imaga and Bamigbetan (2013) carried out
an in vivo biochemical assessment of aqueous extracts of V. amygdalina (Bitter leaf). Indication
was that there was an improved functionality of the antioxidant system of the test rats due to the
probable effect of the phytochemicals and antioxidants in the plant extract. It was inferred that

aqueous extract of V. amygdalina could be consumed as food or as an herbal medicine without


appreciable toxicity to body organs and tissues. The present study was designed to investigate the
effect of cooking Egusi soup (a major conduit for using bitter leaf in Nigeria and Africa
generally) on the antibacterial activity of the plant. This is because bitter leaf soup when
consumed gives a great soothing, appetizing and unusually satisfying after-effect; thus it would
be of medicinal interest to ascertain the extent of depreciation or otherwise of the known
antibacterial activity of the plant when consumed in Egusi soup