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Aim: The aim of the study was to carry out a comparative analysis of the phytochemical composition of the leaves of four selected tropical medicinal plants namely: Ocimum gratissimum, Piper guineense, Gongronema latifolium and Vernonia amygdalina.
Methodology: The phytochemicals in the plant leaves were extracted by cold maceration in ethanol and subjected to both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the phytochemicals.
Results: The qualitative and quantitative analysis revealed the presence of the bioactive compounds alkaloids, Saponins, flavonoids, steroids, glycosides, terpenoids, polyphenols, specific cardiac glycosides, tannins, phytates and reducing compound in the leaves of each plant at varying quantities. Resins were only detected in O. gratissimum. From the quantitative analysis, Gongronema latifolium had the highest percentage content of alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, tannins and reducing sugars. Ocimum gratissimum had the highest flavonoid content.
Conclusion: Taken together, G. latifolium on balance had a higher phytochemical content than the other three plants and thus should be more versatile in the treatment of a whole range of diseases. This was followed by V. amygdalina, O. gratissimum and P. guineense in that order. The fact that most of these phytochemicals have antioxidant activity may be responsible for their antidiabetic activities and use in treatment of other free radical prone diseases.
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