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 (Ajibesin, 2011). The plant kingdom has proven to be the most useful in the treatment of diseases and they provide an important source in all the world pharmaceuticals. The most important of these bioactive constituents of plants are steroids, terpenoids, carotenoids, flavanoids, alkaloids, tannins and glycosides. Plants in all face of life have served a valuable starting material for drug development (Ajibesin, 2011).
Plants also have ethical values. Ethical values of plants are based on their religious or quasi- religious feelings of people of many cultures that life forms have intrinsic value and some degree of protection from destruction by humans. In every culture, human beings have different ways of using and protecting plant genetic resources. Ethno-botany is the scientific study of the dynamics relationships that exist between people and plants (Alcorn, 1995). Ethno-botany aims to document describe and explain complex relationship between cultures and plants, focusing primarily on how plants are used, perceived and managed by societies (Harazaki et al., 2013). The ethical values and sacredness placed on plants in cultures where they are found is to prevent them from being over exploited. Nirmal-kumar et al,. (2005) reported that in India traditional tales, mythological stories and events in the epics, religious practices of worship in household and in the temples, in festivals, birth and death are all replete with reference to plants.
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). 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). The use of one plant or its parts for rituals or religious activities or festivals is not only good for health but also helps in conservation of biodiversity (Lui et al., 2002).
Newbouldia laevis is commonly known as African border tree. In Nigerian major languages it is called ‘Aduruku’ in Hausa, Ogirisi” in Igbo and Akoko in Yoruba (Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1963). Newbouldia laevisis a medium sized, sun loving, fast growing drought tolerant angiosperm which belongs to the Bignoniaceae family (Arbonnier, 2004). It grows up to a height of about7–15 meters but is usually a shrub of 2–3 meters with many stemmed forming clumps of gnarled branches.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the plant is used in the management of a variety of ailments for example; the bark is chewed and swallowed for stomach pains and diarrhea as well as toothache (Lewis and Manony, 2007). In Nigeria and Ivory Coast, the stem bark decoctions are used for treatment of epilepsy and convulsions in children (Tor-anyin et al., 2003). Similarly, Senegalese use the stem bark for the treatment of rheumatism especially painful arthritis of the knee. The plant also has medicinal therapy against ear aches, sore feet and chest pain (Burkil, 1985). Currently, leaf and root extracts of Newbouldia laevis have been shown to possess antimalaria and antimicrobial activities (Ogunlana and Ramstad, 1975; Ejele et al., 2012). For centuries rural people in several communities have used traditional medicine to diagnose, prevent or treat diseases worldwide. In Abia State, Nigeria, herbalists use the stem, bark and the pulp juice of Newbouldia laevis (Family Bignoniaceae) as an external antiseptic for wound dressing. They squeeze out the juice and then apply it to the affected part for several days. Newbouldia laevis is a plant with so many medicinal properties as it is used in the treatment of malaria fever, constipation coughs, tooth ache, sexually transmitted diseases and breast cancer (Iwu, 2000).
Phytochemicals are said to be chemical compounds that occurs in plants naturally are believed to be effective in preventing diseases due to their antioxidant properties (Halliwell and Gutteridge, 1992). These chemicals are often referred to as “secondary metabolities” of which there are several classes including alkaloids, flavonoids, coumarins, glycosides, saponins, polysaccharides, phenols, tannins, terpenes and terpenoids (Harborne, 1973; Okwu, 2005). These compounds have been linked to human health by contributing to protection against degenerative diseases (Liu, 2004; Dandjesso et al., 2012).
Investigations of the plant have produced conflicting reports on the content of phytochemical compounds present in the plant leaf thus provide scarce and inaccurate information.
The aim of this study is to analyze and determine the qualitative and quantitative phytochemicals present in Newbouldia laevis leaves.