Plants and herbs have been used by man to cure disease and heal injuries since time immemorial. In recent years, renewed interest has been shown in the use of medicinal plants, and scientific studies are beginning to explain some of the curative phenomena associated with traditional herbal remedies. There has also been growing awareness by governments, and the scientific and medical communities, of the importance of medicinal plants in health care systems in many developing countries. This has led the World Health Organization to develop an international programme which will, inter alia, review available scientific data relating to the efficacy of medicinal plants in the treatment of specific conditions and diseases. A major task therefore will be to identify those plants suitable for use in primary health care, and to identify simple and/or intermediate technology that will produce enough drugs and therapeutic agents at low cost.

This work presents clear and concise scientific data on the pharmacology of West African plants and extends our knowledge of medicinal plants in West Africa. It will be of particular value to those interested in specific drug applications and will further encourage research into local herbs which in its turn will generate technology locally; this is more reliable and more relevant than introduced technology.

The flora of tropical West Africa has for centuries provided a wealth of material for healing purposes, and its further investigation presents a challenge to scientists who seek to contribute to the search to find new means of alleviating suffering and disease.

The author has put many years of labour and meticulous research into this work, the findings of which are presented clearly and succinctly in this book.

DrT. A. Lambo Deputy Director-General World Health Organization Geneva

9 January 1984

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