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Phytochemicals, Natural Products at a Crossroad: Current and Future Directions
The study of the chemistry of natural products is an indispensable tool in drug discovery and its importance will only increase in the future as pathogens develop resistance to current treatment regimes. Traditional medicinal practices are an important part of the primary health care delivery system in most of the developing world given the extremely low doctor to patient ratios and shortage of medical services (including health centers and pharmaceutical drugs). The use of traditional medicine and medicinal plants in Kenya as a normative basis for the maintenance of good health is still practised in most parts of the country. The vast knowledge of such plants is now beginning to be acknowledged by the scientific world; as is the role played by indigenous people as custodians of this genetic heritage. The striking coincidence between indigenous medicinal plant uses and scientifically-proven phytochemical and pharmacological properties shows that the traditional remedies are an important and effective part of indigenous healthcare systems. Medicinal plants provide huge opportunities for local communities' development, healthcare and livelihood improvement.
The Sustainable Development Initiatives Center (SUDIC) at the United States International University -Africa (USIU-A) sought to isolate medicinally active compounds from the fruits of Balanites rotundifolia, a tree native to the Koriema village Baringo county. We isolated a total of two terpenoid compounds, (purple and pink). Our aim was to 1.) Test the effectiveness of the isolated compounds for arcaricidal activity 2.) Determine if compounds from fruit extracts can be isolated via the process of activity guided fractionation, (3) elucidate the structure of each compound through spectroscopic analysis (4) investigate the biosynthetic mechanisms associated with each compounds and (5) examine the bioactivity of the isolated compounds. The isolated active compounds from Balanites rotundifolia when applied on livestock infested with ticks showed arcaricidal activities by eliminating all the ticks from the animals. Also, at the laboratory level, when applied in cockroaches' hide-outs, they ended up dying and this concluded that further tests are needed to proof the efficacy of the plant.