Isolation and Preliminary Structural Elucidation of Biologically Active Components from Nauclea latifolia
Tallquist, Michelle Diane
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In recent years the chemistry of medicinal plants has been an area of active research. The high and rising costs of drugs have fostered this increased interest in ethnopharmacology. Medicinal plants should be studied to identify active ingredients and ensure that herbalists are using authentic plant materials.! Recently, some of the plants of South America and Asia have been studied extensively, and many novel and pharmacologically valuable products have been isolated. One continent that has been neglected in medicinal plant research is Africa. The flora of the continent is diverse and unique. The unusual habitats consisting of extreme light and temperature variations may yield plant species with novel secondary metabolites. 2 Some of these novel molecules may be responsible for curing the illnesses which the medicine man claims they cure. Because Africa has been inhabited by thousands of ancient tribes, years of medicinal knowledge of herbs have been handed down through folk medicine. 3 African medicine men use the plants from the surrounding areas to treat everything from fevers to gonorrhea. Even now in Africa, literate and illiterate people use local drug plants. 4 Although many plants from Sierra Leone are used in folk medicine, little natural products research has been attempted on most species. Nauclea latifolia from the family Rubiaceae is one of the plants used often by medicine men in Sierra Leone and neighboring countries. It is a shrub that occurs commonly in tropical Africa. The current folk medicine applications of N. latifolia are varied and numerous.