Plants essential in human health – Expert


The Director-General, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Professor Olusola Adepoju, has stressed the need for people to value various plants around them for healthy lives.

Adepoju made the call while delivering a lecture titled: “The Plant: Health and Livelihood” during the Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) 2019 at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).

He said that plants play a key role in providing food, clothing, shelter and medicine for mankind.

The D-G, who was represented by Head, Bio-Medicinal Centre, FRIN, Dr Ibrahim Lawal, said that plants formed the basis of traditional systems that had been in existence for years and continued to provide mankind with new remedies.

“Plants have therapeutic properties in any of their organs like the roots stem, bark, leaves, fruits, seeds and possibly flowers.

It is estimated that two billion people representing a third of the world’s population rely on traditional medicine, many of which come from the forest plant species and stimulants,’’ he said.

He said that drug discovery from medicinal plants had traditionally been lengthier and more complicated than other drug discovery methods.

Adepoju said that recently there had been a rekindling of interest in rediscovering natural products and that it was clear that nature had played and would continue to play a vital role in the drug discovery process.

“Since 1999, the World Health Organisation (WHO), had published three volumes of monographs on selected medicinal plants and the importance of some herbs with their medicinal values.

The plants include sandalwood, ginseng red clover, burdock, bayberry and safflower used to heal wounds, sores and boils.

The global market for herbal medicines currently stands at over 80 billion dollars annually and is growing steadily.

The place of plans in medicine was radically altered in the 19th century by the application of chemical analysis and drug discovery from plants, which continued to be important through the 20th and 21st Centuries in reference to anti-cancer drugs from Yew and Madagascar periwinkle.

It has been estimated that more than 400 traditional plants or plant derived products have been used for the management of Type 1 diabetes across the globe.

Traditional systems of medicine are based on doctrine of signature assumption that the appearance of plants may give clues to their medicinal properties,“ he said.

On the role of plants in sustainable human health, he said plants remove toxins from air through its various parts such as the leaves and bark.

Adepoju said that the efficacy of herbs had been confirmed in different disease conditions all over the world and herbs had succeeded where conventional or synthetic medicine had failed, especially in chronic diseases.