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The increased, sustained interest in the production of plant-based drugs for the treatment of many diseases has become a significant reason why people have become more interested in the use of traditional medicine for the treatment of mild and serious illness. Due to increase in the thrust for the production of plant-based antimicrobials, this study was performed on Acalypha wilkesiana against clinical isolates of Candida albicans. The plant extracts were prepared by using ethanol, methanol and hot water. The extracts were evapourated to dryness using a water bath set at 50oC. The plant extracts were tested for the presence of bioactive compounds such as tannins, saponins, glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloid, and steroids. The antimicrobial sensitivity assay of the extracts was studied by agar diffusion method against Candida albicans. The minimum inhibitory concentration was determined by broth dilution method and microtiter plate method. The results of this study showed the presence of the bioactive compounds tested for with the exception of alkaloid. It also showed that in the agar diffusion method the aqueous extracts did not display antimicrobial activity against the test organism, while the ethanol and methanol extracts were effective against the test organism, the methanolic extract demonstrated the highest activity against the test organisms with a mean zone of inhibition of 18mm. The study revealed that the plant contains active bioactive constituents which may hinder the growth of fungi causing skin irritation especially those in the genus of Candida.
The use and history of herbs dates back to the time of early man, who had the crudest tools as his implements and used stones to start his fire. Herbs were used in a raw state and cooked forms to keep fit. Since that time, the use of herbs has been known and accepted by all nations and has been known also as the first art of treatment available to man (Kafaru, 1994). The search for natural products to cure diseases has received considerable attentions in which plants have been the most important source (Okwu, 2001). Herbal preparations form the basis for many therapeutic drugs and are the first line treatment for many of the world’s population, being readily available and relatively inexpensive (Olaniyi, 1998; Okpara et al., 2007). Herbal medicinal products are assuming greater roles in the lives of the people across the world in the face of global upsurge of drug resistance, toxicity, adverse effects and increasing costs of synthetic products (Mbi, 1998). In Nigeria, several thousands of plant species have been claimed to possess medicinal properties and employed in the treatment of many ailments (Oludare, 2011). Many of these indigenous medicinal plants are used as spices and food plants and for medicinal purposes (Nwaogu, 20l7). Medicinal plants are believed to be an essential source of new chemical substances with potential therapeutic effects (Winston, 2008). Medicinal plants are defined as plants in which one or more of its organs contain substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or which its precursors for the manufacturing of drugs are useful for disease therapy (Sofowora, l982; Balandrin, 1985). Since medicinal plants do not just nearly save people from the effect of the pathogenic organism but permit them to emerge unscathed, they deserve investigation. The local use of natural plants as primary health remedies as a result of their pharmacological properties is quite common in Asia, Latin America, and Africa (Bibitha, 2002). The importance of herbs in the management of human ailments cannot be over emphasized. It is clear that the plant kingdom harbours an inexhaustible source of active ingredients invaluable in the management of many intractable diseases. Furthermore, the active components of herbal remedies have the advantage of being combined with other substances that appear to be inactive. However, these complementary components give the plant as a whole a safety and efficiency much superior to that of its isolated and pure active components (Ahmad, 2001). An increasing reliance on the use of medicinal plants in the industrialized societies has been traced to the extraction and development of several drugs and chemotherapeutics from these plants as well as from traditionally used rural herbal remedies (UNESCO, 1998). Moreover, in these societies, herbal remedies have become more popular in the treatment of minor ailments; this is partly because of the increasing costs of personal health maintenance. Indeed, the market and public demand have been so great that there is a great risk that many medicinal plants today face either extinction or loss of genetic diversity (Idu, 2007). There is no plant that does not have medicinal value. The active components are normally extracted from all plant structures, but the concentrations of these components vary from structure to structure. However, parts known to contain the highest concentration of the bioactive components are preferred to therapeutic purposes and it can either be the leaves, stems, barks, roots, bulks, corms, rhizomes, woods, flowerers, fruits or the seeds (Kafaru, 1994). The bitter tastes, pungent and repulsive smell in some plants; have been found to have repressive ability over the metabolic activities of a wide range of microorganisms (Mitscher et al., 1992). The genus Acalypha comprises of about 570 species (Riley, 1963). Acalypha wilkesiana belongs to Euphorbiaceae family. The plant is popularly used for the treatment of malaria, dermatological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (Akinde and Odeyemi, 1987) and for its antimicrobial property (Adesina et al., 1980; 2000, Kabir et al., 2005, 0ladunmoye, 2006; Erute and Oyibo, 2008). It is widely used in southern Nigeria as a remedy for the treatment of skin infections in children (Alade and Irobi, 1992). Candida albicans belongs to the family Saccharomycetaceae, it is an opportunistic pathogenic and a common member of the human gut flora. It does not proliferate outside the human body. It is detected in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth in 40 – 60% of healthy adults. It is usually a commensal organism, but can become pathogenic in immunocompromised individuals under a variety of conditions. Children at their tender stage suffer a lot of skin irritation caused by fungi especially Candida, among these infections is “Nlacha” as proudly called by the Igbo speaking part of Nigeria. Acalypha wilkesiana have been used by people including educated and local women in treating this infection, this necessitated this research work to find out the active components of this plant that confers such therapeutic agent. Also, not many studies have been conducted on this plant to know its antimicrobial activity against C. albicans.
1.2 AIM AND OBJECTIVES.
Aim: To determine the phytochemical and antimicrobial activity of methanolic, ethanolic and aqueous extracts of the of Acalypha wilkesiana
1. To determine the phytochemical components of Acalypha wilkesiana
2. To determine the susceptibility of common human pathogen of clinical origin to extracts of Acalypha wilkesiana
3. To determine the minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum fungicidal concentration of the plant extracts against the test organism.
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