1.1 Background of the Study
Plants are important in our everyday existence. They provide our foods, produce the oxygen we breathe, and serve as raw materials for many industrial products such as clothes, foot wears and so many others. Plants also provide raw materials for our buildings and in the manufacture of biofuels, dyes, perfumes, pesticides, adsorbents and drugs. The plant kingdom has proven to be the most useful in the treatment of diseases and they provide an important source of all the world’s pharmaceuticals. The most important of these bioactive constituents of plants are steroids, terpenoids, carotenoids, flavanoids, alkaloids, tannins and glycosides. Plants in all facet of life have served a valuable starting material for drug development (Ajibesin, 2011). Antibiotics or antimicrobial substances like saponins, glycosides, flavonoids and alkaloids etc are found to be distributed in plants, yet these compounds were not well established due to the lack of knowledge and techniques. The phytoconstituents which are phenols, anthraquinones, alkaloids, glycosides, flavonoids and saponins are antibiotic principles of plants. Plants are now occupying important position in allopathic medicine, herbal medicine, homoeopathy and aromatherapy. Medicinal plants are the sources of many important drugs of the modern world. Many of these indigenous medicinal plants are used as spices and food plants; they are also sometimes added to foods meant for pregnant mothers for medicinal purposes ( Akinpela and Onakoya, 2006). Many plants are cheaper and more accessible to most people especially in the developing countries than orthodox medicine, and there is lower incidence of adverse effects after use. These reasons might account for their worldwide attention and use. The medicinal properties of some plants have been documented by some researchers ( Akinpelu and Onukoya, 2006). Medicinal plants are of great importance to the health of individuals and communities. It was the advent of antibiotics in the 1950s that led to the decline of the use of plant derivatives as antimicrobials (Marjorie, 1999). Medicinal plants contain physiologically active components which over the years have been exploited in the traditional medical practices for the treatment of various ailments (Ajibesin, 2011). A relatively small percentage of less than 10% of all the plants on earth is believed to serve as sources of medicine (Marjorie, 1999).
In an effort to find alternative sources of feedstuffs to replace some or all of the maize in the diet of pigs and other non-ruminant farm animals, several studies have been conducted to determine the suitability of some agro-industrial wastes as feed ingredients. These include cocoa pod husks, brewers spent grains, rice bran, maize bran, groundnut skins, and wheat bran. However, one by-product that requires consideration is cashew nut testa, a by-product obtained from the processing of cashew nuts. Its utilization as animal feed even at relatively low dosage formulations will minimize its disposal problem as well as reduce the cost of animal feeding.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is now known that agricultural materials are used as animal feeds and that they contain phytochemicals. These phytochemicals serve as antibiotic principles of plants. 3
The need for a cheap, renewable, easily available and nutritive source of material as feed supplements has therefore attracted me to investigate African pear leaf, (APL) as an alternative.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
Broadly stated, the purpose of this work is to investigate/assess the nutritive and medicinal values of African pear leaf as an effective replacement in animal diets. Specifically, this work investigated:
(i) the proximate constituents of African pear leaf; and
(ii) the qualitative and quantitative phytochemicals of African pear leaf.