Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Studies explore herbal antibiotics for drug resistant venereal diseases

By Chukwuma Muanya
13 April 2023   |   3:43 am
Recent studies have validated more antibiotics, including Rauvolfia vomitoria and Chromolena odorata for the treatment of wounds, miscarriages, hernia, premature ejaculation and drug-resistant water/food borne infections like typhoid fever as well as venereal diseases such as chlamydia...

Recent studies have validated more antibiotics, including Rauvolfia vomitoria and Chromolena odorata for the treatment of wounds, miscarriages, hernia, premature ejaculation and drug-resistant water/food borne infections like typhoid fever as well as venereal diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.

Chromolaena odorata is commonly called Siam weed, Christmas bush, devil weed, camphor grass, common floss flower, communist green, triffid, and Awolowo leaf. It has been used traditionally for the treatment of wounds and cuts, dysentery, diarrhoea, malaria, headache and toothache.

Rauvolfia vomitoria is commonly called Chieftaincy leaf, serpent wood or swizzler stick in English, asofeyeje in Yoruba, akanta in Ibo, and wada in Hausa. Rauvolfia vomitoria also spelt Rauwolfia vomitoria has been used to boost the immune system against diseases, treat prostate problems including cancer, diabetes, mental illness and pain.

Venereal diseases or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs) are umbrella terms to refer to various diseases that are transmitted through var
ious methods of sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, and anal). Some of these diseases are transmitted via other routes than sexual intercourse. Bacteria, virus, or parasite may cause STDs. The symptoms, transmission routes, and treatment methods of the STDs are different. Almost all people are predisposed to STDs, and the lower the strength of their immune system, the more likely they are to develop STDs.

The study published in World Journal of Natural Sciences is titled “Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Sexual Diseases by Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Ethnics of Rivers Sta
te, Nigeria.”

The researchers, led by A. T. Oladele and J. A. Elem, from the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, University of Port Harcourt, noted that more than one plant species are usually employed in the preparation of remedies for sexual ailments. They said mixture of different plant species does not necessary indicate that all the plants mixed have active constituents against the ailments, however, some are added to improve taste or for preservation purposes such as Xylopia aethiopica, Aframomum melegueta and Piper guineense. Igoli et al., Bussman and Sharon attributed possible additive and synergistic effects of plants in herbal drug mixtures. Substantial numbers of herbal remedies in this study were also prepared from single plant species; this is congenial with other studies in Bolivia and Mali.

Commonly called African pepper or Guinea pepper, Xylopia aethiopica, belongs to the family Annonaceae. In Nigerian Arabic, it is called kyimba in, kumba in Arabic-Shuwa, kenya in Bokyi, akada in Degema, unie in Edo, ata in Efik, kimbaahre in Fula-Fulfulde, kimbaa in Hausa, ata in Ibibio, uda in Ibo, tsunfyanya in Nupe, kimbill in Tera, eeru in Yoruba.

Xylopia aethiopica, a plant found throughout West Africa, has both nutritional and medicinal uses. The cloves of the plant Xylopia aethiopica, a member of the custard apple family, Annonaceae, are used as a spice in various traditional dishes of Western and Central Africa. The plant is also used in decoction to treat dysentery, bronchitis, ulceration, skin infection and female sterility.

Researchers had confirmed the anti-proliferative effects of ethanolic extract of Xylopia aethiopica fruits on breast and prostate cancer cells. This can be seen from the inhibition of cell growth by this extract thus highlighting its potential as a therapy against breast and prostate cancer.

Commonly called grains of paradise or alligator pepper, Aframomum melegueta is a tropical herbaceous perennial plant of the genus Aframomum belonging to the family zingiberaceae (ginger family).

A 100 per cent natural product from Alligator pepper or Grains of paradise (botanically called Aframomum melegueta) has shown promise in resolving erectile dysfunction and delaying ejaculation.

A preparation from Alligator pepper has received a United States patent as a potent aphrodisiac. It has been shown that Alligator pepper is more effective when used with Piper guineense (Uziza in Ibo)), kola nut and bitter kola. In a research, this combination was used on male rats. The results showed that this combination has an ability to “turn on” male rats.

Indeed, the patented invention relates to pharmaceutical compositions based on the use of Aframomum seeds to solve the problem of male erectile dysfunction as well as premature ejaculation in men.

Piper guineense is commonly called West African Black Pepper or Ashanti pepper (Uziza in Igbo and Ata iyere in Yoruba). Chinese and Nigerian researchers have validated the use of Piper guineense, bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), Gongronema latifolium (utazi in Ibo, arokeke in Yoruba), sesame (Sesamum indicum), and Cowhage also called Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens, agbala or agbaloko in Ibo and werepe in Yoruba) in the treatment of cancers.

Meanwhile, according to the study published in World Journal of Natural Sciences, in the management of miscarriage, 19 plant species were cited in the study of, which Chromolena odorata and Tridax procumbens were the most frequently used species. Chromolena odorata had been documented for the treatment of miscarriage in Nigeria. This work indicated about 45 species used for STIs such as gonorrhea and syphilis. Rauvolfia vomitoria and Chromolena odorata were the two most frequently used species for STIs in the study; this is similar to the report of Ampofo observed that STIs are the major causes of male infertility in developing countries such as Ghana and Nigeria, hence use of local plant materials by rural people for STIs management in the area.

Tridax procumbens, is a common yearly weed in the West African sub-region and other tropical zones of the world and is known as “coat buttons”. Traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) and the native peoples of these areas use the leaves of the plant as a remedy against several ailments ranging from conjunctivitis, diarrhoea, and dysentery to wound healing and related inflammatory conditions. Preliminary radical scavenging screenings proved positive and prompted further investigations into its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.

Methanolic extracts of R. vomitoria roots and A. melegueta have been demonstrated to show activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella spp, Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeuroginosa, C. albicans and A. niger while C. odorata showed high degree of inhibition against human bacterial skin infections such as Staphylococcus aureus TISTR 1466 and Streptococcus pyogenes ATCC 19615.

“These reports justified choice of these plant species in the treatment of STIs locally and indicated their potentials for development of important future drugs. A total of 16 plant species such as Sida acuta and Musa paradisiaca were frequently used for pre-partum depression and to facilitate delivery.

Musa paradisiaca (plantain) and Musa sapientum (banana) are mainly grown in the tropical and subtropical countries and are widely used for its nutritional values all over the world. The fruits as well as the other parts of the plant are used to treat different diseases in human in traditional medicine. Both M. paradisiaca and M. sapientum are traditionally used in diarrhoea, dysentery, intestinal lesions in ulcerative colitis, diabetes, sprue, uremia, nephritis, gout, hypertension and cardiac disease.

Sida acuta (broom weed) is a shrub that grows commonly in different parts of Nigeria. Traditional practitioners of herbal medicine have been applying Sida acuta for the treatment of different illnesses such as malaria, fever, headache, infectious diseases and rheumatism, among others. The usefulness of Sida acuta for the therapeutic management of disturbing conditions such as asthma, renal inflammation, colds, fever, headache, ulcers and worm infections in regions around Central America has been reported. The potentials of Sida acuta for the treatment of snakebite have been reported. For example, some research reports had claimed that the ethanol extract of the Sida plant was pharmacologically effective against the venom of certain snake species

Dokosi and Fasola also recorded the use of whole plant of Sida acuta for prenatal care in Ghana and Nigeria respectively. For postpartum 10 species were cited and out of which, seven species were used for womb cleansing after delivery; the other three species were used for lactation failure (enhance production of breast milk). Earlier workers in Nigeria had reported most of the species recorded for these purposes. For instance, Xylopia aethiopia had been reported as being used to correct lactation failure. The fruit pod of Xylopia aethiopica has also been used to cleanse the womb after delivery in southeastern Nigeria.

Menstrual disorders occur in most women who are not yet mothers, that is, those who have not started bearing children. The menace has received lots of attention from most herbal medicine practitioners, just as gonorrhoea, several herbal remedies such as decoctions and powders are sold in the market locally for its treatment. Jatropha curcas and Carica papaya (pawpaw) surveyed in this work are some of the most frequently used species for menstrual disorders locally in Nigeria, these species have been reported for managing menstrual disorder in Lagos, Oyo and Abia states.

Commonly called physic nut, pignut, fig nut, purging nut and Barbados nut, Jatropha curcas belongs to the plant family Euphorbiaceae. In Nigeria, Jatropha curcas is called mbubok in Anaang, bilit in Angas, habb el meluk in Arabic-Shuwa, oru-ebo in Edo, kokolaji in Fulani, kwotewi in Gwari, urieroh in Urhobo, and lapalapa (meaning ringworm) and olobotuje in Yoruba.

Nigerian researchers at Michael Okpara University, Umudike, Abia State, had found that an extract of Jatropha curcas acts as a strong painkiller and may have a mode of action different from conventional analgesics, such as morphine and other pharmaceuticals.

Also, Thai researchers have demonstrated that the purified compound from roots of Jatropha curcas potentially exhibited the effectiveness of its anti-cancer activity and apoptosis induction in breast cancer.

According to the researchers, weak erection is one of the commonest conditions with much attention in herbal practitioner’s parlance, mostly marketed as bitters and usually advertised on electronic and print media in southern Nigeria. Important plant species used for weak erection in the findings includes: Urena lobata, Newbouldia laevis, Abrus precatorius, Pycnanthus angolensis, Azadirachta indica, Musa paradisiaca and Acanthus montanus.

Urena lobata plant is a weed that wildly grows in Nigeria. Phytochemical analysis of Urena lobata plant depicted the presence of alkaloids, tannins, phytates, flavonoids, saponins, and cyanogenic glycoside. From the analysis of the proximate constituents done on the plant, the following parameters were obtained; moisture content, crude protein, fiber, crude fat/crude lipid, ash content, carbohydrate, and energy value. The minerals (mg/100g) obtained from the mineral analysis include; calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc, with magnesium having the highest value and iron the least value. Based on the results obtained, the plant was established to be useful for both medicinal and nutritional purposes.

Newbouldia laevis, commonly called chieftaincy leaf, seem or boundary tree called variously as; Aduruku in Hausa, Ogirisi in Igbo and Akoko in Yoruba languages.

In Nigeria, the bark is chewed and swallowed for stomach pains, diarrhea and toothache. The plant has been found to be effective in the treatment of elephantiasis, dysentery, rheumatic swellings, syphilis, constipation, pile and as a vermifuge to round worms. It has also been found useful for earache, sore feet, chest pain, epilepsy and children’s convulsion. The leaf, stem and fruits have been used for febrifuge; wound dressing and stomach ache.

Abrus precatorius (Rosary tea), belonging to the family of Fabaceae is one of the potential herbal plants to be used as natural medicine. The leaves of A. precatorius contain pinitol, triterpene glycosides, glycyrrhizin, and alkaloids. The leaves of A. precatorius can also treat leukoderma, skin diseases, itching, eye pain, and wounds. The seeds of A. precatorius contain flavonoids, steroids, alkaloids, anthocyanins, lectins, and fixed oils and can treat skin diseases, ulcers, and nervous system disorders. The roots of A. precatorius contain glycyrrhizin and alkaloid compounds and are able to treat rheumatism, alexiteric, sore throat, and vomiting. A. precatorius shows several therapeutic activities such as antimicrobial, anti-helminthics, antimalarial, antifungal, nephron-protective, immuno-modulatory, neuromuscular, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antifertility, anti-serotonergic, antidiarrheal, antitumor, antispasmodic, and memory enhancing properties.

Pycnanthus angolensis, is used in Nigeria folk medicine to treat complaints such as toothache, headache, sore throat, ulcers and wounds. The antinociceptive and antiulcer activities of the stem bark extract of Pycnanthus angolensis has been demonstrated. The extract prevented the gastric ulceration caused by ethanol and indomethacin treatments compared to control. The results showed that P. angolensis extract possesses antinociceptive and antiulcer activities supporting the traditional use for relieving pain and ulcers.

Extracts from neem tree (Azadirachta indica) also called “dogonyaro” in Nigeria are most consistently recommended in ancient medical texts for gastrointestinal upsets, diarrhoea and intestinal infections, skin ulcers and infections, and malaria.

Acanthus montanus is a shrub widespread in Africa, the Balkans, Romania, Greece and Eastern Mediterranean. It is used in African traditional medicine for the treatment of urogenital infections, urethral pain, endometriosis, urinary disease, cystitis, leucorrhoea, aches and pains. In southeastern Nigeria, the root is popular and acclaimed highly effective in the treatment of furuncles (boils). Studies had evaluated the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of the root extract as well as its effect on phagocytosis and specific cell-mediated immune response, which may underlie the usefulness of the roots in treatment of furuncles. Furuncles usually start as reddish or purplish, tender bumps.

According to the study, hernia is one of the abnormal protrusions of a part of the organs affecting male adults. Twelve plant species were recorded for hernia in the study including Alchornea laxiflora and Rauvolfia vomitoria, which were also reported for the same purpose in Ghana.

Alchornea laxifora is called uwenuwen in Edo; ububo in Igbo; urievwu in Urhobo; and ijin, ijin funfun and ijindi in Yoruba. Alchornea laxiflora has shown promise in a College of Medicine University of Lagos (CMUL), Idi-Araba, study in treating sickle cell anaemia.

Chromolaena odorata is a tropical and subtropical species of flowering shrub in the sunflower family. It is native to the Americas, from Florida and Texas in the United States south through Mexico and the Caribbean to South America. It has been introduced to tropical Asia, West Africa, and parts of Australia.

It is sometimes grown as a medicinal and ornamental plant. In traditional herbal medicine systems, herbal remedies are prepared in several rather standardised ways, which usually vary based upon the plant utilised, and sometimes, what condition is being treated. Some of these methods include infusions (hot teas), decoctions (boiled teas), tinctures (alcohol and water extracts), and macerations (cold soaking). Others include preparing plants in hot baths (in which the patient is soaked in it or bathed with it), inhalation of powdered plants (like snuff), steam inhalation of various aromatic plants boiled in hot water, and even aromatherapy. The young leaves are crushed, and the resulting liquid can be used to treat skin wounds. It was earlier taxonomically classified under the genus Eupatorium, but is now considered more closely related to other genera in the tribe Eupatorieae.

Uyi et al. indicated that the ethno-pharmacological, fungicidal and nematicidal importance of the plant and its use as a fallow species and as a soil fertility improvement plant in the slash and burn rotation system of agriculture has contributed to its continued use and spread in Nigeria. Traditionally, a decoction of the leaf is used as a cough remedy in some developing countries and as an ingredient with lemon grass and guava leaves for the treatment of malaria. Other traditional medicinal uses include anti-diarrhoeal, astringent, anti-splasmodic, anti-hypertentive, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, tonic, antipyretic, and heart tonic.

C. odorata has been reported to exhibit antibacterial, antiplasmodic, antiprotozoal, antitrypanosomal, antifungal, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, hepatotropic, immuno-modulatory and anticancer effects. It is also applied topically as an antidote to the sting of the spine of the common sea catfish. Traditionally, fresh leaves or a decoction of C. odorata have been used throughout Vietnam and other tropical countries for the treatment of leech bites, soft tissue wounds, burn wounds, skin infections, rashes, diabetes and periodontitis, and as an insect repellent. A poultice of the leaves is traditionally applied to cuts or wounds to stop bleeding and promote healing.

Eupolin, a product made from Chromolaena spp., has already been licensed for use in Vietnam for the treatment of soft tissue burns and wounds. An aqueous decoction of the roots is used as an antipyretic and analgesic remedy, and a leaf extract with salt is used as a gargle for sore throats and colds. The fresh leaves and extracts of C. odorata are traditional herbal treatments in certain developing countries, including Thailand, India and Vietnam, for burns, soft tissue wounds, and skin infections.

Several chemical analyses of C. odorata L. have been undertaken that have identified constituents including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes hydrocarbons, triterpenes/steroids, alkaloids and flavonoids. The leaves of this plant have been found to be a rich source of flavonoids including quercetin, sinensetin, sakuranetin, padmatin, kaempferol and salvagenin. The leaves of C. odorata also contain the highest concentration of allelochemicals isolated from a plant. A study in Vietnam revealed that the aqueous extract of the leaf contained flavonoids (salvigenin, sakuranetin, isosakuranetin, kaempferide, betulenol, 2-5-7-3 tetra-o-methyl quercetagetin, tamarixetin, two chalcones and odoratin and its alcoholic compound), essential oils (geyren, bornyl acetate and β-eubeden), saponin triterpenoids, tannins, organic acids and numerous trace substances.

Another study by Heiss et al demonstrated that the crude ethanol extract of C. odorata contains phenolic acids (protocatechuic, p-hydroxybenzoic, p-coumaric, ferulic and vanillic acids) and complex mixtures of lipophilic flavonoid aglycones (flavanones, flavonols, flavones and chalcones). To date, studies on C. odorata have resulted in the isolation of 17 compounds.

The most established effect of C. odorata is on wound healing. The constituents of the plant extracts modulate one or more of the overlapping wound healing stages. Extracts of the leaves and other plant parts of C. odorata have been demonstrated to be beneficial in the treatment of wounds and other disorders. For its traditional usage in wound healing, a paste of ground leaves is applied topically to the affected area. In vitro and in vivo studies of these extracts have demonstrated that they enhanced fibroblast, endothelial cell and keratinocyte proliferation; stimulated keratinocyte migration in vitro; upregulated the keratinocyte-induced production of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and basement membrane components; and inhibited collagen lattice contraction by fibroblasts.

It is well established that C. odorata enhances the proliferation of various cell types, including dermal fibroblasts, endothelial cells and epidermal keratinocytes, which may partially explain the beneficial clinical effects on the wound healing process.

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) disrupt wound healing due to their damaging effects on cells and tissues. ROS are able to degrade absorbable synthetic biomaterials. Free-radical-scavenging enzymes are cytoprotective and are essential for the reducing, deactivating and removing of ROS, and for wound healing regulation. Inflammatory disease pathology involves excessive ROS generation by polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNLs). Natural compounds with antioxidant activity may be useful in reducing or regulating the oxidative damage caused by ROS produced from PMNLs. A previous study reported that Chromolaena species inhibit ROS generation via opsonized zymosan-stimulated PMNLs.

Rauwolfia vomitoria is a tropical shrub in the family of Apocynaceae. It has been used in traditional folk medicine in Africa to treat a variety of ailments including fever, general weakness, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, psychosis, pain, and cancers. It has been validated for treatment of ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer.

Several studies have shown that extracts from this plant are enriched in carboline alkaloids and indole alkaloids. Many of these alkaloids have been isolated from the stem, leave, and root of Rauwolfia vomitoria. From the root alone, there are mainly five types of more than 20 alkaloids identified.

Researchers have isolated reserpine, a drug to control high blood pressure and relieve psychotic symptoms, from the root bark of Rauwolfia vomitoria. Other reported activities of the isolated compounds mainly affect the neurological and cardiovascular systems, with many of them not studied for their bioactivities.

The anticancer activities of these components have barely been studied. One early study in 1986 suggested anti–lymphoma ascites cells effects of three alkaloids, alstonine, serpentine, and sempervirine, in specific conditions.

Another study published Sudan Journal of Medical Sciences and titled, “The Most Important Herbs Used in the Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections in Traditional Medicine”, noted: “Based on the results obtained from the review of numerous articles indexed in the databases the Institute for Scientific Information, Scopus, PubMed, Google Scholar, etc., a number of plants have been reported to be used in the treatment and prevention of genital tract diseases and STIs, and to produce antiviral and antimicrobial effects.

Some of the therapeutic methods and medications recommended by traditional medicine across the world for STIs and genital tract infections are as follows:
Herbal treatments for STIs and genital tract infections

Apple vinegar- Apple vinegar is a very strong antibiotic and disinfectant agent, and its antibacterial and antifungal properties boost the immune system of the body against pathogens.

Rosemary- Rosemary is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial plant, and therefore is used to treat various types of infections. The easiest way to exploit rosemary properties is to use the tea or oily extract of the plant.

Garlic- Garlic is a natural, highly effective antibiotic for the treatment of various infections and its antibacterial properties are microbicidal. The extract of this plant eliminates vaginal yeast infections and reduces pain. Treating gynaecological infections by using tea tree oil. Tea tree oil treats the infection with its strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.

Basil leaf (Ocimum gratissimum)- Basil leaf is a strong microbicide and can destroy a variety of fungi and bacteria. Aloe vera- the use of A. vera and its gel is effective in treating infection and remove itching. The nectar of the plant is effective to remove itching caused by the infection in the genitalia.

Blueberries- Blueberries are fruits that have many usages in traditional medicine and are recommended to prevent urinary tract illnesses. One of the chemical compounds of the fruit is a kind of substance called PACS that can kills the bacteria that causes the infection in the body and prevents their proliferation and accumulation. Eating blueberries is effective to get rid of fungal infection.

Oak- Oak tree bark and leaves contain tannin, sugar, gallic acid, malic acid, quercetin, mucilage, pectin, resin, and oil. Therefore, this plant has a very strong antibacterial property and produces strong effects in reducing and treating genital tract bacterial diseases and STIs.

Eucalyptus- Eucalyptus essential oil exhibits antimicrobial properties against certain bacteria. In general, the antimicrobial effects of this plant are comparatively greater on gram-positive bacteria. In some cases, eucalyptus has been prescribed for the treatment of gonorrhea, with very promising results.

Silybum marianum- S. marianum is also one of the herbal drugs that are used for treating STDs with traditional form of medicine. The S. marianum is rich in silymarin (a natural material that can destroy T. vaginalis), which makes the plant an ideal choice to fight against certain types of STDs. In addition, this substance is also used to boost the immune system of the body and therefore helps fight the parasite that causes infection in the body.

Soma- Soma is known as one of the effective traditional and herbal drugs as well as a home remedy for STDs due to its potent antibacterial properties. Leaves, tree bark, roots, and fruit of soma have high pharmaceutical value, and its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties will certainly help fight certain diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis. In addition, soma contains saponin, which consists of phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that help kill all types of germs, boost the immune system, and restore the body.

Also, another study published in Scientific World Journal has evaluated the pharmacological of selected medicinal plants used in the management of oral and skin infections in Ebem-Ohafia District, Abia State, Nigeria.

Oral and skin infections contribute significantly to the global health challenges responsible for the current trend of increased morbidity and premature death. The purpose of this study was to document medicinal plants used in the management of oral and skin infections in Ebem-Ohafia Local Government Area (LGA), Abia State, and to characterize the in vitro antioxidant and antibacterial activity. The thin layer chromatography (TLC) profiling of ten of the selected folklore medicine was carried out using a various solvent system of different polarity index. The antioxidant capacity of the plant extracts was evaluated using chemical-based methods, and its antibacterial effect was investigated using disc diffusion and micro-dilution methods. Sixty-one plant species belonging to 26 families were discovered, and the most frequently cited species are Euphorbiaceae (18.03 per cent), Fabaceae (11.47 per cent), and Asteraceae (11.47 per cent).

All the plant extracts showed a promising free radical scavenging activity and efficient ferric reducing antioxidant power in a concentration-dependent manner possibly due to their richness in polyphenol with TLC profiling showing maximum three bands of phytochemicals. Also, the plant extracts exhibited a mild to weak antibacterial activity against panel of bacterial strains having Minimum Inhibition Concentration (MIC) values ranging from 256 to greater than 512μg/ mL reflected in their zone of inhibition at 10μg/disc.

The data obtained for Breynia nivosa (BN), Eleusine indica (EI), Cassia alata (CA), Chromolaena odorata (CO), and Acalypha hispida (AH) extracts substantiate the traditional use of these herbal remedies in the region and open the possibility for the development of cheaper and affordable drugs in the treatment of oral and skin infections. Further studies are needed to identify active ingredient with strong antibacterial and antioxidant capacities along with their molecular mechanisms.

Pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Proteus mirabilis play a significant role as the primary cause of skin and oral infections. Staphylococcus aureus is a part of normal skin known to be the most problematic in the cause of skin infections as a result of their resistance mechanisms to first-line antibiotics. Although the presence of this organism as a resident oral floral is controversial, nonetheless, Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus (MRSA) have been isolated from oral rinse and tongue swab in patients with oral infections. Escherichia coli are Gram-negative bacteria known to be notorious for their resistant mechanisms towards the existing arsenal of antibiotics. Oral infections such as edematous and erythematous and skin infections like omphalitis, surgical site infections, burn, necrotizing fasciitis, and cellulitis at all age groups are associated with enterobacterium E. coli. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a Gram-negative, encapsulated, facultative anaerobic, and rod-shaped bacterium found in the normal flora of the mouth, skin, and intestines. This bacterium is responsible for the prolonged surgical wound, biliary tract wound, and urinary tract infections and it could pose a serious health risk when resistant strains invade the throat, mouth, or intestines.

Proteus mirabilis is one of the most common enterobacteria after E. coli identified as Gram-negative, motile, and rod-shaped bacterium. It is found in clinical specimen implicated in the skin, respiratory tract, and bacteraemia as well as burns, wounds, and urinary tract infections. All these pathogenic multidrug-resistance bacteria are causative agent in a periodontal, lips ulcer, white sponge nevus, and skin infections.

The results of this study, therefore, at least in part provide scientific evidence for the traditional use of these medicinal plants in ethnomedicine by the dwellers of Ebem-Ohafia communities in the treatment of skin and oral infections. The free radicals scavenging activity, moderate to high TPC, TFC, and the mild antibacterial properties demonstrated by certain plant extracts are worth harnessing for proper evaluation and integration into the primary healthcare system.

Another study examined antimicrobial effects of Chromolaena odorata leaves on Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus spp isolates from urine of patients attending General Hospital Wukari, North East, Nigeria.

The authors are: Edobor Peter Kenneth Imarenezor of Federal University Wukari, Nigeria; Francis Ushie Ebuara of Florida State University; and Abel Abhadionmhen of Federal University Wukari, Taraba State.

The aims of the study was to isolate and identify bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus spp.) and subsequently determine the susceptibility of these organisms to extract (ethanolic and aqueous) of C. odorata. Fifty clinical samples (urine) were collected from different categories of individuals visiting General Hospital Wukari for investigation using standard microbiological techniques.

The results showed that the ethanolic extracts were more effective against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus spp. than the aqueous extract of the plant. The researchers found that the higher the concentration of the extracts, the higher the effectiveness. The aqueous extract inhibited the growth of S. aureus at a concentration of 45g/90ml while the ethanolic extract inhibited the growth at a concentration of 40g/80ml. The aqueous extract had no bactericidal effects on S. aureus while the ethanolic extract had bactericidal effects on S. aureus at 50g/100ml concentration. On Streptococcus spp., the aqueous extract inhibited the growth at a concentration of 40g/80ml while the ethanolic extract inhibited the growth at a concentration of 35g/70ml. Both the aqueous and ethanolic extracts had bactericidal effects; the aqueous extract at 50g/100ml and the ethanolic at 45g/90ml. The study shows that the leaves of Chromolaena odorata have immense antibacterial potential.

Indeed, antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening the ability to treat common infectious diseases. When first-line antibiotics can no longer treat infections, more expensive medicines must be used. A longer duration of illness and treatment, often in hospitals, increases health care costs as well as the economic burden on families and societies. Antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality. A growing list of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and food borne diseases – are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.

Herbal healers have long used herbal antibiotics to ward off colds and flu; clear infections and speed wound healing. Now, they may be moving back into the mainstream as an alternative for bacteria that have become resistant to synthetic antibiotics.

It concluded: “The research also shows that increasing the concentration of the extracts resulted in more inhibitory effects on the on the isolates. The antimicrobial effectiveness conducted on Chromolaena odorata shows the immense ability of this plant in the treatment of conditions in which the test organisms may be implicated such as wound, anti-inflammatory. This is essentially in agreement with a previous study on the subject. Flavonoids, tarpenoids, steroids, which were isolated from this plant may be responsible for its antimicrobial effects.”

Also, a study published in the journal Sustainability has harnessed opportunities provided by the invasive Chromolaena odorata to keep it under control.

The researchers from the Department of Ecology and Resource Management, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa, said Invasive Alien Plants (IAPs) have been well documented as socio-ecological change drivers in most countries globally. Billions of dollars have been spent worldwide on IAP management projects with varying degrees of success. Understanding the contribution of IAPs to human well-being and livelihoods could provide insights into potential sustainable incentives that could be used to achieve effective IAP management.

A review was conducted to assess the benefits of the invasive Chromolaena odorata on human wellbeing and livelihoods. Literature was gathered using keyword searches in electronic databases. The findings from this review showed that C. odorata is utilised in bioenergy production, crop production and protection, ethnopharmacology, human nutrition, and livestock production. However, most of these benefits were reported on the Asian/West African biotype. There was only one ethnopharmacological benefit record on the southern African biotype. This shows that, although C. odorata has significant negative impacts on the environment and livelihoods, its benefits have been integrated into human well-being and livelihoods. Therefore, C. odorata utilisation in bioenergy production, crop and livestock production, crop protection, and ethnopharmacology could create an economic incentive for species control in invaded sites. However, for utilisation to be effective, it should be used as a complementary control strategy.

Another study published in journal Advances in Microbiology isolated and identified two antibacterial agents from Chromolaena odorata active against four diarrhoeal strains.

The researchers are from the University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France. In the present study, the researchers investigated the antibacterial activities of different leaves extracts of Chromolaena odorata (cyclohexane, dichloromethane, ethyl acetate and butanol) against four clinical diarrheal strains (Klebsiella oxytoca, Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei and Vibrio cholera).

Intestinal infectious diseases are widespread around the world, especially in Africa where they constitute the second cause of mortality in children under-five years. Among bacteria responsible for these infections, Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei and Vibrio cholera, both Gram-negative, are the most represented. S. enterica and S. sonnei are also discovered in the infected intestinal tracts of patients. V. cholerae is associated with sporadic cases of gastroenteritis and extra-intestinal infections whereas Klebsiella oxytoca, over Gram-negative, is held responsible for colitis urinary tract infections, respiratory diseases, post-antibiotic diarrhoea, haemorrhagic colitis, recurrent colitis in Crohn’s disease and nosocomial infections. Both bacteria strains are frequently associated with dysentery. Antibiotics are commonly used for severe intestinal infectious but unfortunately, bacteria are continuously develop resistance to antibiotic. Therefore it appears crucial to discover new antimicrobial agents to overcome the overwhelming drug resistance. A potential approach consists of isolating organic compounds from medicinal plants belonging to traditional pharmacopoeias of the world.

An ethnopharmacological survey in Benin allows identifying several plants used in traditional medicine for the treatment of intestinal infections. Among them, Chromolaena odorata (formerly Eupatorium odoratum) was less studied for antibacterial activities.

In Vietnam, fresh leaves or their decoction are used throughout for the treatment of leech bite, soft tissue wounds, burning wounds, skin infection and dentoalveolitis. Furthermore, a study in northern Thailand shows that C. odotrata is used in the primary healthcare of postpartum women. Reports from many users of C. odorata state effects on indigestion and peptic ulcer wounds, bleeding stoppage, healing acceleration, refreshing.

In the present study, the researchers focused on the antibacterial activities of Chromolaena odorata against four bacteria that causes intestinal tract infectious: Klebsiellaoxytoca Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei, and Vibrio cholerae. After determination of their minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and bio-guided isolation, the antibacterial agents from C. odorata were characterised by mass spectrometry and NMR analysis.

Four strains (Klebsiella oxytoca, Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei, and Vibrio cholera) were isolated from patients concerned by diarrhoea at University hospital (CHRU) of Strasbourg (France) and obtained from the team of Dr. Gilles Prévost. Bacteria are cultivated in Mueller Hinton (MHB, Merck, Darmstadt, Germany).

Chromolaena odorata selection was based on an ethnopharmacological survey conducted among traditional healers of Benin. 14 plants were selected and tested in a preliminary study and C. odorata was selected as one of the most active plant. C. odorata leaves extracts were prepared and antibacterial activity extracts was determined by using iodonitrotetrazolium salt. Results demonstrate that C. odorata display an antibacterial activity ranging from 0.156 to 1.25 mg/mL against Klebsiella oxytoca, Salmonella enterica, Shigella sonnei and Vibrio cholerae. The best activity was obtained against V. cholerae with a MIC of 0.156 mg/mL for the dichloromethane extract and a MIC of 0.312 mg/mL for the butanol extract.

Recent data demonstrated that the bacteria used in this study were resistant to antibiotics. This resistance is due to the expression of cefotaximase by the bacteria. Furthermore, during the last decade resistance of Salmonella for ciprofloxacin was reported in the United States. Several strains of Shigella also display antibiotic resistance to tetracycline and trimetropine-sulphamethoxazole. Another study in the Zhejiang province (China) highlighted the resistance of Shigella to multiple antibiotics, such as aztreonam (30.8 per cent), ampicillin (92.3 per cent), piperacillin (61.5 per cent), ceftazidime (30.8 per cent), cefotaxime (30.8 per cent), and gentamicin (53.8 per cent). V. cholerae is also able to develop multiple drug resistances against antibiotics as reported in 2010. All these examples strongly argue to find new active agents. For this, screening of the antibacterial activities of medicinal plants constitutes a promising route towards the discovery of new antimicrobial compounds.

Some studies demonstrated that C. odorata leaves extracts display antibacterial activities against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus faecalis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and antifungal activities against Cryptococcus neoformans, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Trichophyton rubrum.

In addition, methanol/dichloromethane (1:1) extraction of C. Odorata’s roots, showed a significant antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhi (causative agent of typhoid fever). C. odorata also displays anti-inflammatory activities and contributes to wound healing, haemostasis and blood coagulation, antioxidant activity as well as cytotoxic effects against cancerous cells. The two compounds identified in this study belong to the flavonoid family. Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds mostly present in vegetables. Some flavonoids isolated from medicinal plants show important biological activities such as anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anticancer, antioxidant. Interestingly flavonoids exert anti-inflammatory activities in bowel inflammation disease. The two flavonoids identified in this study, sinensetin and scutellareintetramethyl ether have already been identified in a chemical study. In addition, other studies shown that these molecules are quoted as having anticancer, antioxidant properties and in preventing obesity.

The researchers noted: “For the first time, our study demonstrated that Chromolaena odorata antibacterial properties are associated with sinensetin and scutellaréinetetrametyl ether. Some data suggest that composition of medicinal plants varies along the seasons and many others factors. Thus, the two flavonoids isolated from C. odorata might be used as markers of the antibacterial properties of this plant. To conclude, this study describes for the first time antibacterial activity of C. odorata against four diarrheagenic pathogens strains and validates somehow traditional use of this plant in the treatment of intestinal infectious diseases. Bioguided isolation by chemical and biological methods allowed us to characterize two flavonoids, sinensetin and scutellareintetramethyl ether as responsible for these antibacterial activities of Chromolaena odorata.”

A number of secondary metabolites and active compounds isolated from plants have been demonstrated as active facilitators of wound healing in animal models. Important examples include: Tannins from Terminalia arjuna; oleanolic acid from Anredera diffusa; polysaccharides from Opuntia ficus-indica; gentiopicroside, sweroside and swertiamarin from Gentiana lutea; shikonin derivatives (deoxyshikonin, acetyl shikonin, 3-hydroxy-isovaleryl shikonin and 5,8-odimethyl acetyl shikonin) from Onosma argentatum; asiaticoside, asiatic acid and madecassic acid from Centella asiatica; quercetin, isorhamnetin and kaempferol from Hippophae rhamnoides; curcumin from Curcuma longa; oleoresin from Copaifera langsdorffii; proanthocyanidins and resveratrol from grapes, acylated iridoid glycosides from Scrophularia nodosa; phenolic acids (protocatechuic, p-hydroxybenzoic, p-coumaric, ferulic and vanillic acids) from C. odorata; glycoprotein fraction of Aloe vera; (+)-epi-alpha-bisabolol from Peperomia galioides; fukinolic and cimicifugic acids from Cimicifuga spp.; and xyloglucan from Tamarindus indicus (black tamarind/icheku in Ibo).