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CHAPTER ONE

1.0     INTRODUCTION

Medicinal plants are useful for healing as well as for curing of human diseases because of the presence of phytochemical constituents. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemical in the medicinal plants, leaves, vegetables and roots that have defense mechanism and protective against various diseases. Chlorophyll, proteins andcommon sugars are included in primary constituents and secondary compounds have terpenoid, alkaloids and phenolic compounds. Terpenoids exhibit variousimportant pharmacological activities i.e., anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-malarial, inhibition of cholesterol synthesis, anti-viral and anti-bacterial activities. Terpenoids are very important inattracting useful mites and fight against herbivorous insects.  Alkaloids are used as anaesthetic agents and are found in medicinal plants.[1]

Phytochemicals are defined as bioactive non-nutrient plant compounds in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plant foods that have been linked to reducing the risk of major chronic diseases. The word ‘phyto-’ is derived from the Greek phytowhichmeans – plant. The presence of these bioactive components are said to confer the plant with resistance against bacterial, fungal and pesticidal pathogens. These bioactive components are said to be responsible for the antimicrobial effects of plant extracts.The interest in plants with antimicrobial properties has been revived due to current problems associated with the use of antibiotics with the increased prevalence of multidrug resistant (MDR) strains of a number of pathogenic bacteria. [2]

1.1     Statement of Problem

There is an ever continuous and urgent need to discover new antimicrobial compounds with diverse chemical structures and novel mechanisms of action due to the alarming increase that has been witnessed in the incidence of both new and reemerging infectious diseases. A further concern is the development of resistance to the antibiotics in current clinical use, and the problem of availability and affordability of antibiotics.

1.2 Aim and Objectives

The research tends to investigate the pharmaceutical active component of ethanol leaf extract of Corchorusolitorius so as to identify potential bioactive compounds for drug synthesis.

Objectives

The objectives of the study will be

  • To determine phytochemical composition of the leaf using some standard methods.
  • To extract the active plant constituents using ethanol
  • To investigate the antimicrobial properties of the extract using disc diffusion methods on some isolated micro-organisms
  • To compare the antimicrobial activities of the pharmaceuticals active compounds presents in the leaf with some known commercial antibiotic.

1.3     SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

Corchorusolitorius (Ahihara) plant has been widely acclaimed as a potent medicine traditionally therefore is a necessity to prove it scientifically, if it is found to be highly potentit may be incorporated into the health care systems after the necessary toxicity studies have been carried out. This study can afford the possibility of discovering new organic substances that are useful against disease for which suitable cure are not yet known.

1.4     SCOPE OF STUDY

This work is expected to cover

       Collection and identification of the leaf Corchorusolitorius(Ahihara) plant

       Extraction of active compounds in the leaf using ethano

1.5.    Taxonomy of Corchorusolitorius

KINGDOM: Plantae

PHYLUM: Tracheophyta

CLASS: Magnoliopsida

ORDER:Malvales

FAMILY: Malvaceae

GENUS: Corchorus L.

SPECIES: Olitorius[3]

Plate 1.1 Picture of Corchorusolitorius leaf

 

1.5.1  Description of Corchorusolitorius

Is an annual herb with slender stem with height of 6-10 cm. Corchorusolitorius is an important green leafy vegetable in many tropical areas including Egypt, Sudan, India, Bangladesh, in tropical Asia in such countries as the Philippines and Malaysia, as well as in tropical Africa, Japan, South America, the Caribbean and Cyprus. In West African countries particularly Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where staple diets consist of starchy food-stuffs such as rice, cassava, maize and yams, leafy vegetables are used to complement such staple foods. It is cultivated to provide bark for the production of fibres (Jute) and its mucilaginous leaves are used in food as a vegetable.The crop is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, fiber, minerals including calcium and iron and other micronutrients. Corchorus. olitorius L. is extensively consumed as a “healthy vegetable” in Japan, because it contains abundant carotenoids, vitamin B1,B2, C and E, and minerals.Jute contains high levels of all essential amino acids except methionine which is at marginal concentrations.It has highprotein levels and is, along with other leafy species, the main source of dietary protein in many tropical countries. The seeds are used as a purgative and leaves as demulscent, diuretic, febrifuge (infusion) and in chronic cystitis and dysuria. On preliminary analysis, seeds have been found to contain cardenolide glycosides.Based onthe fact that there is no scientific research reporting on the antifungal activity of this plant, we decided to take this opportunity to screen for both its potential both antibacterial and antifungal activity.[4]

1.5.2  Medicinal uses of Corchorusolitorius

Corchorusolitorius leaf is used in folklore for managing diabetes and hypertension[5]CorchorusOlitorius leaf prevent internal bleeding, protects eye health, reduces restless leg syndrome, supports skin health and cell growth, fights off colds and flu, reduces cholesterol, prevent Cancer, maintains healthy Teeth and Gums, Prevents Asthma, Protects Healthy Hair and Skin. [6]

Other traditional uses and benefits of Corchorusolitorius includes

       Corchorusolitorius is a traditional remedy for aches and pains, fever, dysentery, enteritis, pectoral pains, and tumors.

       Leaves are used for ascites, pain, piles, and tumors.

       The cold infusion is said to restore the appetite and strength.

       An infusion is used in the treatment of dysentery, fevers, liver disorders and dyspepsia.

       A decoction of the roots and unripe fruits is used in the treatment of dysentery.

       The Leaf is also used as ready to cystitis, dysuria, fever, and gonorrhea.[6]

 

1.6     PHYTOCHEMICALS

Phytochemicals (from the Greek word phyto, meaning plant) are biologically active, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants, which provide health benefits for humans further than those attributed to macronutrients and micronutrients. They protect plants from disease and damage and contribute to the plant’s color, aroma and flavor. In general, the plant chemicals that protect plant cells from environmental hazards such as pollution, stress, drought, UV exposure and pathogenic attack are called phytochemicals. Recently, it is clearly known that they have roles in the protection of human health, when their dietary intake is significant. More than 4,000 phytochemicals have been cataloged and are classified by protective function, physical characteristics and chemical characteristics and about 150 phytochemicals have been studied in detail. [7] In wide ranging dietary phytochemicals are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fungi, herbs and spices. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, whole wheat bread, tomatoes, grapes, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, beans, legumes, and soy foods are common sources. Phytochemicals  accumulate in  different  parts  of  the  plants,  such  as  in  the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits or seeds. Many phytochemicals, particularly the pigment molecules, are often concentrated in the outer layers of the various plant tissues. Levels vary from plant to plant depending upon the variety, processing, cooking and growing conditions. Phytochemicals are also available in supplementary forms, but evidence is lacking that they provide the same health benefits as dietary phytochemicals. [7]

These compounds are known as secondary plant metabolites and have biological properties such as antioxidant activity, antimicrobial effect, modulation of detoxification enzymes, stimulation of the immune system, decrease of platelet aggregation and modulation of hormone metabolism and anticancer property.  There are more than thousand known and many unknown phytochemicals. It is well-known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, but recent   researches demonstrate that many phytochemicals can also protect human against diseases. [7]

Phytochemicals are not essential nutrients and are not required by the human body for sustaining life, but have important properties to prevent or to fight some   common diseases. Many of these benefits suggest a possible role for phytochemicals in the prevention and treatment of disease, Because of this  property many researches have been performed to reveal the beneficial health effects of phytochemicals. [7]

1.6.1  Biological Activities of Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals present in plants which are responsible for preventing disease and promoting health have been studied extensively to establish their efficacy and to understand the underlying mechanism of their action. Such studies have included    identification and isolation of the chemical components, establishment of their biological potency both by in-vitro and in-vivo studies in experimental animals   and through epidemiological and clinical case control studies in man. Study findings suggest that phytochemicals may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by preventing the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, reducing the synthesis or absorption of cholesterol,normalizing blood pressure and clotting, and improving arterial elasticity. Phytochemicals may detoxify substances that cause cancer. They neutralize free radicals, inhibit enzymes that activate carcinogens, and activate enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Phytochemicals have also been promoted for the prevention and treatment of diabetes, high blood pressure, and macular degeneration. Phytochemicals are classified by function an individual compound may have more than one biological function serving as both an antioxidant and antibacterial agent. [7]

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