Since the time immemorial, our ancestors in Africa have been engaged in the use of plants and their different parts for treatment of various ailments, as well as for as for harmful purposes- such as poisons. Generally, plants have been in use throughout the world in folk medicine and as local cures for common ailments. Medicinal plants in particular has been in use for centuries as remedies for human diseases because they contain components of therapeutic value (Okoli et al., 2009) Folk medicine gave rise to traditional systems of medicine in various diseases. Diodia scandens Sw has enormous usefulness and importance (Essiett et al., 2011).
According to Essiett et al., (2010). Diodia scandens Sw (Rubiaceae) is an evergreen perennial herb, which has an alternate leaf arrangement, petiole is present. It has compound leaves, ovate to lanceolate in shape, reticulate venation, entire in margin, its apex is acute, its base is cuneate, it has glabrous surface and its texture is charteceous. Diodia scandens Sw has a dark green coloration, tasteless, odorless and has solitary inflorescence. It is a straggling herb, which has been in use in the Western African system of medicine. It has enormous usefulness and importance; whole parts of the plants are useful in curing various ailments.
Generally, the plants medicinal value includes its use as antidotes (venomous stings, bites, etc.), painkiller, treatment of veneral diseases and cutaneous and subcutaneous fungal infections. However, the different parts of the plants- sap, leaf, stem and root, are used for various medicinal purposes. The leaf is used for treating arthritis, rheumatism, cutaneous and subcutaneous parasitic infection, diarrhea, dysentery and anti-abortifacients; the leaf plus roots are used for dropsy, swellings, edema, and gout and as lactation stimulants; while the sap is used for treating ear infections, paralysis, epilepsy, convulsions, spasm and pulmonary troubles.
In the recent years, secondary plant metabolites- known as photochemicals have been extensively investigated for their potency as medicinal agents. Studies carried out on some plants showed that some plants contain many substances such as peptides, tannins, alkaloids, essential oils, phenols and flavonoids among others, which could serve as sources for antimicrobial production (Okoli et al., 2009). D. scandens does not contain alkaloids, flavonoids, phobotannins and anthraquinones. However, it has saponins, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-yeasts, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-tumor, anti-viral and anti-abortifacient activities were present. Tannins, which have astringent and detergent properties were also present, and can be used against diarrhoea. According to Essiet et al. (2011), the photochemistry of the leaf extract revealed the presence of saponins, tannins, cardiac glycosides and absence of flavenoides, phlobatannins, alkaloids and anthraquinones.
D. scandens also has antimicrobial properties of which much is not known or documented yet. It is used in some localities in Nigeria to treat cutaneous and subcutaneous fungal infections. The procedure involves squeezing out the sap from the whole plant, freshly collected and appling the fluid on the infected skin by scrubbing. If done frequently for about3- 5days, the antifungal effect is seen. This agrees with the report of Essiett et al. (2011), who stated that in Nigeria, the leaves are used for curing eczema-, which is a fungal infection.
Generally, plants have been in use throughout the world in folk medicine and as local cures for common ailments and medicinal plants in particular has been in use for centuries as remedies for human diseases because they contain components of therapeutic value. Diodia scandens Sw has enormous usefulness and importance (Essiett et al., 2011). The different parts of the plant Diodia scandens- sap, leaf, stem and root, are used for various medicinal purposes. The plant does not contain alkaloids, flavonoids, phobotannins and anthraquinones but has saponins, tannins and cardiac glycosides. The plant has antifungal properties evident in its use for treating cutanbeous and sub-cutaneous fungal infections such as eczema. It is recommended that further research be done on the plant to properly evaluate its antibacterial properties.
Akah, P.A., Okogun, J.I. and Ekpendu, T.O. (1993). Antioedema and Analgesic actions of Diodia scandens extract in rats and mice. Phytotherapy Research. Vo. 7, Issue 4: 317- 319.
Essiett, U.A., Bala, D.N. and Agbakahi, J.A. (2010). Pharmacognostic studies of the leaves and stem of Diodia scandens Sw in Nigeria. Scholars Research Lirary, Archives of Applied Science Research. 2(5): 184- 198.
Okoli, R.I., Turay, A.A., Mensah, J.K. and Aigbe, A.O. (2009). Phytochemical and Antimicrobial properties of four Herbs from Edo State, Nigeria. Report and Opinion. 1(5): 67- 73.