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A Comparison of the Chemical Constituents of Barbadian Medicinal Plants within Their Respective Plant Families with Established Drug Compounds and Phytochemicals Used to Treat Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases

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Objective: Barbados has a strong base in the practice of folklore botanical medicines. Consistent with the rest of the Caribbean region, the practice is criticized due to lack of evidence on the efficacy and safety testing. The objectives of this review article are i) to categorize and identify plants by their possible indications and their scientific classification and ii) to determine if the chemical constituents of the plants will be able to provide some insight into their possible uses in folklore medicine based on existing scientific research on their chemical constituents and also by their classification.

Method: A review of the folklore botanical medicines of Barbados was done. Plants were primarily grouped based on their use to treat particular communicable and non-communicable diseases. Plants were then secondarily grouped based on their families. The chemical profiles of the plants were then compared to established drug compounds currently approved for the conventional treatment of illnesses and also to established phytochemicals.

Results: The extensive literature review identified phytochemical compounds in particular plants used in Barbadian folklore medicine. Sixty-six per cent of reputed medicinal plants contain pharmacologically active phytochemicals; fifty-one per cent of these medicinal plants contain phytochemicals with activities consistent with their reported use.

Conclusion: Folklore botanical medicine is well grounded on investigation of the scientific rationale. The research showed that fifty-one per cent of the identified medicinal plants have chemical compounds which have been identified to be responsible for its associated medicinal activity. To a lesser extent, approved drug compounds from drug regulatory bodies with similar chemical structure to the bioactive compounds in the plants proved to validate the use of some of these plants to treat illnesses.

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e-Published: 19 Aug, 2013
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