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1.1     Background of Study

Jatropha tanjorensis, commonly referred to as “hospital-too-far” or Ugu-Oyibo in Igbo language belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is widely grown and used as a leafy vegetable and a medicinal plant in South Eastern Nigeria. It is used locally in treatment of malaria, ailments associated with the liver and kidney, infertility and improvement of hematologic indices. It is reported to have antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, hypoglycaemic and antioxidant properties and enhances the function of the bone marrow (Olayiwola, et al., 2004; Orhueet al., 2008; Madubuike, et al., 2015). Phytochemical screening of J. tanjorensis leaf revealed that it contains bioactive principles such as alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, anthraquinones and saponins (Ehimwenma and Osagie, 2007). The liver plays an astonishing array of vitalfunctions in the maintenance, performance andregulating homeostasis of the body. It is involved with almost all the biochemical pathways to growth, fight against all the disease, nutrient supply, energy provision and reproduction (Owolabi, et al 2011). Therefore, maintenance of a healthyliver is essential for the overall well being of an individual. Liver cell injury caused by various toxicants such as certain chemotherapeutic agents, carbon tetrachloride, thioacetamide etc., chronic alcohol consumption and microbes is well-studied. Since time immemorial, mankind has made use of plants in the treatment of various ailments. The Indian Traditional Medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani are predominantly based on the use of plant materials. Herbaldrugs have gained importance and popularity in recent years because of their safety, efficacy and cost effectiveness. The association of medical plants with other plants in their habitat also influences their medicinal values in some cases. One of the important and well-documented uses of plant-products is their use as hepatoprotective agents (D'Souza, et al., 2002 Raju, et a.,l). Hence, there is an ever increasing need for safe hepatoprotective agent (Raju, et al 2002). In spite of tremendous strides in modern medicine, in 2004, the U.S. National Centre for complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health began funding clinical trials into the effectiveness of herbal medicine. For this reason, various medicinal plants have been studied using modern scientific approaches which have shown that due to their various biological components, many of these medicinal plants posse a number of properties such as anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects, etc. and can be used to treat a wide range of various diseases. The medicinal properties of plants are due to the presence of certain specific substances, referred to as bioactive principles which may be stored in organs like roots, leaves, stem bark, fruits and seeds (Boon, et al 1978, Marcey 1978). Many herbs have shown positive results in-vitro, animal models, or small-scale clinical tests (Keith et al 2013, Arthur et al 2013). Plants and their extracts have immense potentials for the management and treatment of wounds. The phytomedicine for wound healing are not only cheap and affordable, but are also safe as hypersensitive reactions are rarely encountered. These natural agents induce healing and regeneration of tissues by multiple mechanisms. However, there is need for scientific validation, standardization and safety evaluation of plants of traditional medicine before recommendation for the healing of wounds. Jatropha curcas leaves can be used as tea against malaria; the seeds are used as contraceptives in South Sudan and also used against constipation. The watery sap is put onto fresh cuts and sores at the corner of the mouth and can also be used as antidotes for venomous stings and bites (Girish and Koner et al 2009). In addition to the above claims, a large set of data suggest that Jatropha curcas might have hepatoprotective activity. This research is aimed at determining the effect of ethanol leaf extract of on chloroform induced hepatotoxicity in albino rats.

In developing countries, medicinal plants are used in traditional medicine. Such plants have been investigated for better understanding of their medicinal properties. Number of medicinal plants has been used for their antifungal and antibacterial properties (Adamu et al., 2005) and in the treatment of a wide range of infections (Mongalo et al., 2013). Abrusprecatorius Linn. Family Fabaceae is commonly known as Jequerity, crab's eye, Rosary pea. The plant is native to Indonesia and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. This plant is introduced to India and distributed throughout India. A deciduous, wiry climber with tough branches leaves abruptly pinnate with many pairs of leaflets, the rachis ending in a spine, the leaflets oblong rounded at both ends. Fruits are short pods containing hard shiny scarlet and black seeds. Their seeds are often used as beads and in percussion instruments. The seed contains the toxic poison abrin analogous to ricin. The seeds paste is applied locally against skin diseases. Leaves are used as substitutes for liquorice considered useful in biliousness and in leucoderma, itching and other skin diseases. Roots are used as diuretics and also in preparations prescribed for gonorrhea, jaundice and haemoglobinuea bile.

1.2     History of Occurrence and Distribution

Jatropha tanjorensis is believed to be native of Mexico and Central America region which belong to the family of Euphorbiceae (Dehgan, 1984). It originated in the Caribbean, Jatropha tanjorensis plants are drought-resistant succulent tree. Jatropha is cultivated in many past of the tropics and it is also subtropics as a hedge crop and it is for traditional use (Kumar and Sharma, 2008).

Jatropha tanjorensis occurs mainly at lower altitude of (0-500m) in some areas with an average annual temperature with about 200C but it can grow at higher altitudes and it also tolerates slight frost. These present distribution shows that the introduction has been most successful in the dried regions of the tropics and is believe to be grown under a wide range of rainfall regimes from about 250 to over 1200mm per annum (Katwal and Soni, 2003).

Jatropha tanjorensis has easy adaptation to different kinds of marginal lands, animals avoiding it, has drought resistant, possess a short time interval to give it first yield, is the reason why the plant species is more attractive for cultivation (Islam et al., 2012). Jatropha tanjorensis can grow in areas with extremely climate and even in soil conditions what could not be inhabited by most of these agriculturally important plant species that circumvent the food versus fuel resentment (Kumar & Sharma, 2008). The traditional way of the knowledge of using catholic vegetable in Nigeria is very common in the South Eastern and Western States where it is very used specifically and final needs of fthe people in the areas mentioned (Oboh & Masodje, 2009).

          Jatropha tanjorensis is grown in Southern Nigeria and is the primarily used for fencing (Oboh & Masodje, 2009). Jatropha tanjorensis which has been consumed as leafy vegetable and as medicinal plant in Nigeria has shown hematological, antimalarial, antimicrobial, hypoglyceamic activities (Falodun. 2013). These leaves are edible leafy green vegetable and it can be taken as tonic herbs medicine it increases blood volume (Omoregie & Sisodia, 2011). Catholic vegetable (Jatropha tanjorensis) has been studied and it shows that it has potential uses for health benefit, availability and affordability and acute toxicity that did not cause any changes in the human body. The latex from the leaf stems is toxic but the plants used it to protect their self from been attack by diseases and from recent research shows that, they also used their toxic to protect humans too. This plant has traveled to all the tropic parts of the world; it is used for food, for medicinal purposes and for restoration. Hematological investigation revealed an increased in packed cell volume, red blood cells and hemaglobic (Comfort C. Ugwu, 2011). 

          The systematic survey unraveled the fact that Jatropha tanjorensis is one of the grossly underutilized plant genera and only a small fragment of the population is aware of its efficacy both as food and medicinal purpose plants. The importance of Catholic vegetable to human nutrition and wellness is still not fully harnessed and given its due place. It is still one of nature’s underutilized herbs in this part of the world.

1.3     Aim and Objectives

          The aim of this project is to carry out a comparative study of the effects of ethanolic stem and leave extract of Jatropha tanjorensis on liver function of male albino wistar rats.

1.4     Statement of Research Problems

          The traditional treatment and control of diseases by the use of available medicinal plants by rural communities will continue to play significant roles in medical health care implementation in the developing countries (Ekundayo et al., 2011). The use of synthetic medicines as therapeutic agents however is limited, due to various challenges such as poor drug solubility, stability, adsorption and high toxicity. In addition, some of these drugs are expensive and generally unavailable to citizens of developing countries, especially those residing in the rural areas (Sule et al., 2011). The shortfalls in the use of chemotherapeutic agents as control agents of bacterialdiseases, further encourages the use of plants as a form of alternative medicine. The drug resistant bacteria and fungal pathogens further complicate the treatment of infectious diseases in immune compromised AIDS and cancer patients. Multi-drug resistant organisms are associated with nosocomial infections (Hidron et al., 2008). Thus infectious diseases represent a critical problem to health and they are the main cause of high morbidity and mortality rates worldwide (WHO, 2012). Until recently, research and development efforts have provided new drugs in time to treat bacteria that developed resistance to older antibiotics. As bacterial antibiotic resistance continues to exhaust the supply of effective antibiotics, a global public health disaster appears likely. Substitutes from the nature to the antibiotics are becoming the prime need of the society in the present and in future.

Today, the ongoing emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria and the infectious diseases caused by them are serious global problems (Albuquerque et al., 2007). Thus, there is an urgent need for novel antimicrobials and/or new approaches to combat these problems (Liu et al., 2000). Antibiotics are the most important weapons in fighting bacterial infections and have greatly benefited the health-related quality of human life since their introduction. However, over the past few decades these health benefits are under threat as many commonly used antibiotics have become less and less effective against certain illnesses not only because many of them produce toxic reactions but also due to emergence of drug resistant bacteria.

1.5     Justification of Study

Blood transfusion is the fast and reliable technique of saving lives in severe cases of haemolytic anaemia, but some religious and cultural beliefs are strongly opposed to receiving or donating of blood for another survival. Disease conditions such as hepatitis, Ebola and AIDS have remained a great threat to blood transfusion as blood screening techniques are poorly handled especially in rural dwelling, mainly due to absence of necessary expertise or equipment Psychological trauma, blood in compatibility and clinical complications (such as iron overload) at times pose challenge for this procedure. It is therefore pertinent to opt for a more affordable, convenient, acceptable and less traumatic strategy for treatment or prevention.  Although a lot of work has been done (Oluwale and Akingbala, 2011) on this plant like nutritional and antimicrobial properties of Jatropha tanjorensis leaves, but comparative studies on the stems and leaves of this plant and their effect on liver function have not been widely reported.

1.6   Scope and Limitations

This project work is limited to the comparative study of ethanolic stem and leave extract of Jatropha tanjorensis on liver function of male albino whistar rats.

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