Medicinal and aromatic plants are reservoirs of curative elements used by a large population of Africans in the treatment of various diseases such as malaria, diabetes, mental disorders, cancer, hypertension and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). These medicinal and aromatic plants are used based on ethnobotanical evidence as being safer, acceptable, affordable, culturally compatible and suitable for chronic treatment. Phytochemical screening of these plants revealed that they contain bioactive chemical substances such as alkaloids, tannins, saponin, and others with therapeutic potentials. The screening of plants for various bioactive substances has led to the discovery of anti HIV drugs from plant such as Ancistrocladus korupensis containing the alkaloid,michellamine A and B. The active ingredients of medicinal and aromatic plants can be found either in the roots, leaves, stems, flowers or bark and can be extracted using an appropriate extraction method. Plant selection for drug discovery can be achieved through phytochemical screening, conducting bioassays on experimental models, ethnobotanical evidence and biologic activity report on the plant. Despite the benefits derived from plants, some of them have some unpleasant side effects which may be related to over doses or other factors. This may lead to acute toxicity and death but when these problems are carefully addressed, will help to harness the therapeutic potentials of medicinal and aromatic plants for further drug development in the future.
Key words: African, treatment, bioactive, alkaloid, health care.
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