I want to thank Dr Lambo, Deputy Director of the World Health Organization in Geneva for the interest and encouragement he showed all these years for my work and also want to thank him and his coworkers for helping me with some practical problems and arranging for some photographs to be made of a few of my water-colours.
I also am grateful to Dr Laurent Rivier and Mr Ian Holmes, editors of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in Lausanne, in which the first chapters of this book were published in order to raise an interest, for encouragement, useful criticism and minor corrections.
In addition I want to acknowledge the kind assistance of Professor Norman Farnsworth, Professor of the Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology at Illinois University, USA, and Dr David Griffin, Manager of Research in Human Reproduction at the WHO, in providing recent documentation allowing me to select the more important information in the very extensive field of antifertility plants.
My thanks also go to Dr Norman Langford, Freelance interpreter at the United Nations for reading through part of the text to check my English, which is not my mother tongue.
I would also like to acknowledge the great kindness of Dr Dinah James, OBE, former Professor of Pharmacology in Nigeria, in reading through a great part of my text and for her extremely helpful suggestions, queries and corrections.
My thanks also go to Mrs Louise Sanders, subeditor of Cambridge University Press, for her help in preparing the text for publication.
Throughout the text, the descriptions of the plants include some of the local medicinal uses (L), the chemical constituents (where known) (C) and the pharmacological and clinical actions of the plant concerned (P), when this knowledge is available. As a short and therefore incomplete botanical description could be misleading, no botanical details have been given. These can be found in the revised edition of Hutchinson and Dalziel's Flora of West Tropical Africa (1954-72), which provided the information for the occurrence of the plants described and their names and synonyms. Non-indigenous plants currently cultivated or grown in the area have also been included m the book, this being mentioned in the text or indicated in the tables by c. before or after the botanical name. Thus:
L indicates local uses C indicates chemistry P indicates pharmacology c. indicates non-indigenous plants Within each therapeutic group, plants are, as far as possible, assembled by chemical constituents. A chemical relationship often exists in the same botanical family, hence the plants are assembled by families within these groups. The descriptions, when dealing with well-known plants appearing in most Pharmacopoeias, have been restricted to a few essentials; details are available in most standard textbooks. On the other hand, West African plants which, while less well known, seem of potential medicinal interest have been treated in greater detail, in the belief that such details might prove useful in further scientific investigations. Some plants with weaker pharmacological action or with higher toxicity have also been included as further research and chemical separation might enable their use.
Many plants contain a number of different constituents and if these are employed for different purposes the plant may appear under several pharmacodynamic groups. To avoid repetition for plants already described, their action(s) will be mentioned only briefly and for further details reference will be made to earlier information.
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