ISSN: 0970-938X (Print) | 0976-1683 (Electronic)

Biomedical Research

An International Journal of Medical Sciences


Microbiological, Parasitological And Lead Contamination Of Herbal Medicines Consumed In Enugu, Nigeria

Background/purpose: Herbal medicines are made from mixtures of different plant components used by traditional medical practitioners for the treatments of various diseases in Nigeria in unhygienic conditions. The present study investigates microorganisms contaminating these concoctions and also assessing any contamination with heavy metal with limited reference to lead poison from samples consumed in Enugu, Nigeria. Method: Eighty herbal preparations were randomly purchased from different locations and dealers in Enugu according to their therapeutic claims. The samples were analysed and examined microscopically for evidence of parasite. Serial dilutions of the preparations were aseptically prepared, while the total viable count was determined for the isolates which were identified using standard culture and biochemical techniques. The method of Association of Analytical Chemists (AOAC) was adopted for estimating the lead content of the samples. Results: Three species of protozoan ((Entamoeba histolytica, Entameoba coli, E. coli, Giardia intestinalis), and three species of helminth parasite (Toxocara canis hookworm, Ascaris lumbricoides) were recovered with a contamination rate of 51.3 percent. A. lumbricoides was the highest recovered parasitic organism (53.7%), Bacillus spp. (38.2%), Staphylococcus aureus (7.3%), Escherichia coli (18.2) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (20%), were the commonest bacterial isolates while Salmonella spp. and Klebiella spp. yielded 3.6% each. Fungi species were also isolated from the various samples (Aspergillus flavus (22.7%), A. niger (10.7), Geotrichum candidum (17.3), Trichophyton mentagrophytes (10.7%), Microsporium canis (6.7%), Rhizopus (17.3), Mucor spp. (5.3%), Penicllium spp. (5.3%), Syncephalastrum racemosus ranking the least (4%) while lead was dictated with a range of 0.027-1.081 mg/L in the positive samples. Conclusion: There was a huge contamination of the herbal concoctions in Enugu with microorganisms, and some with lead poison. This could be a source of many enteric and other infections that abound in the expanse, and stress the pressing need for standardization and regular tests of these provisions by appropriate agencies.

Author(s): Onyemelukwe Ngozi F, Chijioke Olive U, Dozie-Nwakile Ogechuckwu, Ogboi Sonny Johnbull
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