The extensive use of herbal medicinal products in the treatment and management of disease states within communities in Ile-Ife, south western Nigeria has made it imperative to investigate the microbial quality of a sample of these products in the light of the standards prescribed by regulatory bodies. This study was therefore carried out to assess the microbial quality of locally prepared and unregistered herbal oral liquid medicines available in Ile-Ife. A total of 50 herbal medicine samples were procured from various randomly selected markets in Ile-Ife. The microbial load of each sample was determined and the contaminants associated with each sample were identified. Samples that did not yield either bacterial or fungal growth were tested for their ability to elicit antimicrobial activity using the agar cup diffusion method. Results obtained in the course of the study showed that 90% of the samples carried microbial loads beyond officially permissible limits with Escherichia coli and Salmonella species being found in 2 and 6% of the samples, respectively. Since it was suspected that antibiotics were sometimes added to herbal products by some herb sellers to prolong the shelf life of their products, the screening exercise showed that the sample that did not yield bacterial growth exercised marked antimicrobial activity against both Gram positive and Gram negative organisms. The results of this study suggest that the herbal oral liquid products available to consumers in Ile-Ife are of unacceptable quality.
Key words: Microbial quality; herbal preparations; Escherichia coli; Salmonella species; antibiotics.
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