Apocynaceae family as a source of traditional and conventional medicine.
1. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY. Plants have an important role in the treatment of various diseases by both traditional and conventional or 'modern' medicine. Modern medicine utilises scientific and technological methods to age old practices e.g. a plant that is known to have specific activity against a certain disease is harvested and modern isolation techniques and pharmacological procedures are carried out to find the active substance, that is then purified and presented in various formulations e.g. tablets, capsules, syrups, suspensions etc rather than in the 'crude' form that is normally the case in traditional medicine (Trease and Evans, 2006)Therefore in essence 'modern' medicine borrows heavily from traditional medicine and is an outcome of the evolvement of the knowledge and experience of traditional practitioners. This shows that traditional and modern medicine should have a mutually beneficial relationship in order for both to prosper and for the betterment ofthe health of patients. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as 'therapeutic practices that have been in existence, often for hundreds of years, before the development and spread of modern scientific medicine and are still in use today. This is mostly the case in the African and Asian continents where traditional medicine is widely used .Chinese medicine and herbs are becoming more and more popular in the west. Conventional medicine has its origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt (Egyptian papyrus ebers c 1600BC),The Unani medicine(Kitab-al-shifa, the magnum opus of Avicenna', I Corrupteellatin for Abu All al-Husayn ibn Abel Allah ibn Slna popularly known as lbni STna see ell_ll'i kipedi (I- org/\ \'i kif A vicellll(f KHALIF A.M 5 AD 980-1037) which is of Islamic origin and Ayurvedic' medicine (Ayurveda 2500- 600 BC).The most ancient form of medicine that used plants were the Unani3 and Ayurvedic medicine both of which have origins in the Mediterranean. The materia medica of both unani and ayurvedic medicine is derived from many herbs and the final preparations for administration include pills, syrup, alcoholic extracts, etc, Chinese medicine also has a long history with the earliest known texts being unearthed in Hunnan province and dates from the 4th century Be. It lists over 200 herbs with instructions for 52 pharmaceutical preparations. This shows that plants have been exploited for their medicinal use for ages and are still being used worldwide as a source of conventional medicine, this at times puts a strain on existing plant sources e.g. as a result of demand for new drug galanthine for treatment of Alzheimers disease,Leucojwn aestivum is now in danger of extinction ((Trease and Evans, 2006), Hence research into cultivation or artificial propagation by cell cultures or use of a related species with the same active ingredient has been tried as a solution. 2 ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to Indiall] and practiced in other parts of the world as a form of alternative medicine. See hltp://en.wikipedia.orglwikiiAyurveda 3 Unani is the Arab word for Greek or Ionian and is a development of Arabic medicine which itsel f was based on the work of Galen (2AD) see trease and evans. I<HALIF A.M 6 There are many species of plants containing substances of medicinal value which have yet to be discovered, large number of plants are constantly being screened for their possible pharmacological value particularly anti-inflammatory ,hypotensive, amoebicidal, antifertility, cytotoxicity, antibiotic and anti parkinsonism properties.