The use of herbs and medicinal plants as the first
medicines is a universal phenomenon. Every culture on earth, through written
or oral tradition, has relied on the vast variety of natural chemistry found
in healing plants for their therapeutic properties(1). All drugs of the past
were substances with a particular therapeutic action extracted from plants.
Thus, medicinal plants may be defined as any plant that can be put to
culinary or medicinal use such as fox glove, opium poppy, and garlic (2) .
More and more researchers find that food and their individual constituents
perform similar fashion to modern drugs and sometimes better without the
dreaded side effects(1) The onion is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables
in history. It is thought that bulbs from the onion family have been
utilized as a food source for Millennia. Onion consists of its herbaceous
plant part and its edible bulb part. It is probably a native to southwestern
Asia (3). The leaves are bluish –green and hollow. The bulbs are large,
fleshy and firm. There are three main varities- white, red and purple
skinned (4).The relative pungency of onion has both genetic and
environmental components. Sulphur compounds in onions have also been shown
to be anti-inflammatory both by inhibiting formation of thromboxanes and by
inhibiting the action of platelet-activating factor (PAF). Thiosulfinates
condition anti-thrombotic benefits, including antioxidant activity(5,6)
reduced serum cholesterol and enhance in vitro platelet activity (7). This
later effect is important for cardiovascular health by reducing the
probability that platelets aggregate in the blood, a major cause of he!
art attacks and strokes (8). Hence, thiosulphinates found in onion have been
shown to inhibit in-vitro platelet aggregation(9, 10). Flavonoids are a
second class of health enhancing compound produced by onions, an example is
quercetin. Flavonoids are chemical compounds active against microorganisms.
They have been found in-vitro to be effective antimicrobial substance
against a wide array of microorganisms (11). Ginger, consists of the fresh
or dried roots of Zingiber officinale. In humans, ginger is thought to act
directly on the gastrointestinal system to reduce nausea (12).
Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat intestinal infections,
especially related with digestive problems. Equally, its antibacterial
‘power' is effective against preventing numerous intestinal problems that
take place as a result of the alteration of the intestinal flora. This is
ideal to avoid the formation of ulcers by eliminating the Helicobacter
pylori, a bacterium whose secretions of ammoni!
a are responsible for many ulcers, especially those of the duodene, an d for
other stomach problems like gastritis, since the plant is able to neutralize
the excess of gastric acid that is another of the causes that favours the
formation of ulcers (5). The gingerols have analgesic, sedative,
antipyretic, antibacterial and gastrointestinal tract motility effects.
Ginger has the capacity to eliminate harmful bacteria, such as Escherichia
coli, responsible for most of the diarrhoea, especially in children(13).
Ginger eases both diarrhoea and constipation; hence it should have impact on
the growth of Bacillus cereus, which mainly causes diarrhoea and nausea. It
has been shown to reduce the stickiness of blood platelets, hence may help
reduce risk of artherosclerosis(13, 14) The genus Salmonella is among the
most common causes of food and water borne infectious diseases in the world
(15). The organism has a wide host range which comprises most animal species
including mammals, birds and cold-blooded animals in addition to human. A
number of studies in Nigeria have shown that Salmonella infections is
endemic in many parts of the country (16. 17) and its endemicity increases
especially in areas with low environmental hygien (18-21).
Bacillus subtilis has been implicated in various food spoilage including
ropiness in bread, production of CO2 in canned meats, sliminess and
coagulation in milk, e.t.c(22). Escherichia coli is one of the main causes
of both nosocomial and community-acquired infections in humans and one of
the micro-organisms most frequently isolated from blood. E. coli in humans
is a common inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract. It can also cause
various intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases (23). The pathogenic
isolates of E. coli have a relatively large potential for developing
resistance (24, 25). The spread of microbial drug resistance is a global
public health challenge, which impairs the efficacy of antimicrobial agents
and results in substantial increased illnesses and death rate, hence, this
work was therefore undertaken to investigate as well as authenticate the
antimicrobial potentials of the two medicinal plants (26, 27).The
antimicrobial properties of plants have been inves!
tigated by a number of researchers world wide, especially in Latin America.
In Argentina, a research tested 122 known plant species used for therapeutic
treatments (28). It was documentedthat among the compounds extracted from
these plants, twelve inhibited the growth of Staphylococus aureus, ten
inhibited Escherichia coli, and four inhibited Aspergillus niger and also
reported that the most potent compound was one extracted fromTabebuia
impetiginosa. The antimicrobial properties of compounds obtained from
Parthenum argentatum against Candida albicans, Torulopsis, Hansemula,
Klebsiellapneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa was detected (29,30).Work
done was observed that the substances extracted from nine known plants in
Uruguai did not show any activity against C. albicans and Saccharomyces
cerevisiae, but inhibitedthe growth of Bacillus subtilis, E. coli and P.
aeruginosa (31). Many studies have been conducted in Brazil. The inhibitory
activity of Vatairea macrocarpa on Kl!
ebsiella spp. and S. aureus was observed (32) and the inhibitory activ ity
of extracts from Eucaliptus spp. against soil fungi (33). A more detailed
study on antimicrobial compounds was done evaluating extracts from 120 plant
species from 28 different families (34). It was documented that 81 extracts
obtanained from 58 plants were active against S. aureus, and five extracts
from four other plants inhibited the growth of P. aeruginosa. Another study
(35) detected the antibacterial and antifungal (C. albicans) activityof
essential oils obtained from Croton triangularis leaves. Extracts from
Lippia gracilis and Xylopia sericea showed antifungal activity. The
investigation of antimicrobial activity as well as cell toxicity of extracts
from 30 plant species againstfive bacteria species and two fungi species was
studied (36). It was concluded that ethanol extracts from 70 % of the plants
were toxic to cell and only one of the species of Combretum duarteanum
showed antimicrobial activity. The toxicity of extracts from Arthemus
sativa, which is known t!
o have antimicrobial activity, was also studied (37). The antimicrobial
activity from Mikania triangularis, known as “thin leaf guaco”, was tested
against five genera of bacteria and three genera of yeast, and showed it had
activity against Bacillus cereus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus and S.
epidermidis (38). Effects of phytochemical were conducted (39,40) and it was
observed the antimicrobial activity of anacardic acid on S. aureus,
Brevibacterium ammoniagenes, Streptococcus mutans and Propionibacterium
acnes. Later, it was tested the bactericidal activity of anacardic acid and
totarol on methicillinresistant strains of S. aureus (MRSA) and the
synergistic effect of these compounds associated with methicillin (41).
Plant extracts have great potential as antimicrobial compounds against
microorganisms (42) and this study reported that they can be used in the
treatment of infectious diseases caused by resistant microbes. In addtion,
this study suggested that the syner!
gistic effect from the association of antibiotic with plant extracts a
gainst resistant bacteria leads to new choices for the treatment of
infectious diseases. This effect enables the use of the respective
antibiotic when it is no longer effective by itself during therapeutic
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