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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 3, Pages 283-294

Therapeutic Potential of Plants as Anti-Microbials for Drug Discovery

Venom and Toxin Research Programme, Department of Anatomy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 117597, Singapore

Received 12 April 2007; Accepted 18 April 2008

Copyright © 2010 Ramar Perumal Samy and Ponnampalam Gopalakrishnakone. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The uses of traditional medicinal plants for primary health care have steadily increased worldwide in recent years. Scientists are in search of new phytochemicals that could be developed as useful anti-microbials for treatment of infectious diseases. Currently, out of 80% of pharmaceuticals derived from plants, very few are now being used as anti-microbials. Plants are rich in a wide variety of secondary metabolites that have found anti-microbial properties. This review highlights the current status of traditional medicine, its contribution to modern medicine, recent trends in the evaluation of anti-microbials with a special emphasis upon some tribal medicine, in vitro and in vivo experimental design for screening, and therapeutic efficacy in safety and human clinical trails for commercial outlet. Many of these commercially available compounds are crude preparations administered without performing human clinical trials. Recent methods are useful to standardize the extraction for scientific investigation of new phytochemicals and anti-microbials of traditionally used plants. It is concluded that once the local ethnomedical preparations of traditional sources are scientifically evaluated before dispensing they should replace existing drugs commonly used for the therapeutic treatment of infection. This method should be put into practice for future investigations in the field of ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, ethnobotany and other biological fields for drug discovery.