Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) occur throughout the world. In Nigeria, STDs are one of the leading diseases affecting a vast majority of people. The prevalence rate of these diseases is high in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, especially in Akwa Ibom and Rivers States. In Nigeria, the high incidents of STDs have been attributed to factors such as poverty, polygamy, absence of nationwide clinical networks, early sexual exposure, lack of awareness, dense commercial sex networks and poor gender empowerment.The common STDs are gonorrhoea, syphilis, urethritis, vaginal candidiosis and Chlamydia and majority of the population turn to traditional medical practitioners (TMPs), who are available in every community for the treatment of STDs, due to lack of access to modern health facilities and social stigma associated with the diseases. Scientists in an ethnomedicinal survey conducted on the TMPs of various communities of Akwa Ibom and Rivers states of Nigeria to obtain and document information on the medicinal plants used to treat STDs found over 36 different plants used by communities in Niger Delta of Nigeria.In an interview of 105 TMPs on plant parts, ailments treated method of preparation and dosages for STDs including gonorrhoea and syphilis, the scientists reported in the 2011 edition of the International Journal of Green Pharmacy that gonorrhoea was the most important STD treated with these plants.The survey entitled 'The use of Medicinal Plants to Treat Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Nigeria: Ethnomedicinal Survey of Niger Delta Region,' was carried out by Kola Ajibesin from the Department of Pharmacognosy and Herbal Medicine, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State in collaboration with Danladi N Bala and Uwemedimo F Umoh from the Department of Pharmacognosy and Natural Medicine, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.The scientist, in the survey which was carried out in order to gather and document information on the medicinal plants used locally to treat gonorrhoea, highlighted 34 different plants. Prominent among these are Dracaena arborea, Anacardium occidentale (cashew tree), Spondias mobin, Mangifera indica (mango), Palisota hirsuta, Jatropha curcas, Hibiscus surattensis, Baphia nitida and Syncepalum dulcificum.In treating syphilis, the survey documented 11 different medicinal plants, including Maranthocloa cuspidata, Mangifera indica, pawpaw,Citrullus colocynthis Latropha curcas, Gossypium hirsutum, Elaeis guineensis (palm oil tree), Lonchocarpus cyanescens and Cissus quadrangularis.For the treatment of urethritis, five plants identified included mangifera indica, piper guineense, maranthocloa cuspidata, melanthera scadens and Ipomoea involucrate. Also documented plants for the treatment of leucorrhea included Piper guineense, chrysophyllum albidum, Smilax anceps, Ipomoea involucrata and Musa paradisiacal.Dracaena arborea is commonly referred to as peregun (Yoruba); odo (Igbo) and okono/okono using in Efik. Spondias mombin is called Iyeye in the Yoruba, ngulungwu in Igbo and isada in Hausa. Palisota hirsute is called Akerejupon in Yoruba and kpl tl in Igbo. Jatropha curcas, also known as Barbados nut, physic nut, purging nut or Lapalapa in Yoruba. While the most frequently reported plant part of the leaves constitute 49 per cent, followed by roots (19 per cent), bark and whole plant (8 per cent), both leaves and bark of Lonchophora cyanescens were used as infusion to treat syphilis.Interestingly, leave decoctions of mango, cashew and spondia mobim is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea. Root of pawpaw is made into a tincture to treat syphilis.The leaves of Alchornea cordifolia are crushed and its juice applied to treat gonorrhoea, Allium schoneoprasum leaves and tincture are usedto treat gonorrhoea. The decoction made from the leaves of Gossypium hirsutum is also used for the treatment of gonorrhoea and syphilis.The researchers found that an infusion of the leaves of Hibiscus surattensis is used for treating gonorrhoea; the crushed stem and juice from Musa paradisiciaca stem is applied on the skin to treat leucorrhoea.Similarly, a powder made from the root of Elaesis guineensis is mixed with kernel oil for syphilis while the whole plant of Cissus quadrangularis is made into a tincture for the treatment of gonorrhoea and syphilis.The researchers, who indicated that Anacardium occidentale, Citrullus colocynthis, gossypium hirsutum and chrysophylum albidium were the most important medicinal plants the TMPS had a consensus on as effective for treatment of these STDs, reiterated the need for pharmacological evaluation of these medicinal plants species to determine their efficacy.Meanwhile, the researchers also tried to search previous works for validation of the uses of medicinal plants reported by the TMPs, since STDs are common throughout the world. It found that 25 plant species (65 per cent) used by the Niger Delta communities are also used in other parts of Nigeria and the world for similar and other ailments.For instance, decoction made from leaves of Spondias mombin is used in other parts of Nigeria to cure gonorrhoea as well. However, the method of preparation for treating gonorrhoea is leaf infusion. In Guatemala, the ethnomedicinal use of the plant for gonorrhoea was validated against the germ that causes gonorrhoea and it was reported to show moderate effect on the germ.Though the leaves of Palisota hirsuta are used by the indigenes of Niger Delta Region to treat gonorrhoea, other parts such as, root and stem twigs are also used in other regions of Nigeria to treat the same ailment. In Cote D'Ivoire, P. hirsuta is also prescribed for treatment of gonorrhoea, while the decoction of the whole plant is used for urethral discharge. In Gabon, the stem of the plant is made dry under the sun to cure urethral discharge, while in Sierra Leone, the roots boiled with lime are used to treat gonorrhoea in 3 days. Previous studies in rationalising the ethnomedicinal uses of P. hirsuta, reported that the methanol extract of the plant could inhibit germs such as Staphlococus aureus and Escherichia coli, and viruses including Herpes simplex, one of the causative agents of STDs.In many countries, the bark of mango tree is the part mostly employed for medicine; however, the part used in the treatment of STDs, according to the study, is the leaves. In India, the bark of the plant is mixed with lime juice and applied for seven days for gonorrhoea, while in Fiji; an infusion of the dried bark is made and given orally to cure syphilis. The bark of Mango tree has been reported to contain mangiferin, a chemical substance found to kill some germs including Bacillus cereus, Sta. aureus and E. coil, and Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigates as well as inhibits the replication of Herpes simplex virus (HSV-2).In Owo, Ondo State, the leaves of Ageratum conyzoides are used as a decoction to cure STDs. In North Africa, the decoction of the root is used to treat STDs such as syphilis, urinogenital infection, urethral pain, urinary disease, cystitis and leucorrhoea, while the decoction of the leaves and stem is used for the same diseases in Togo. Click here to read full news..