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Nutritional and Phytochemical Potential of Spilanthes uliginosa (Sw) Leaves

Background: The use of plants to cure diseases is as old as the mankind and this therapeutic potential of plants lies in some chemical components that are present in plants that produce definite physiological and biochemical actions on the human body.
Objectives: To investigate some nutritional and the phytochemical constituents of the leaves of Spilanthes uliginosa (Sw).
Methods: The phytochemical and proximate analyses of Spilanthes uliginosa (Sw) leaves were carried out using methods of AOAC. The leaves were assayed for contents of vitamins; A, C, E, B1, B2 and B3 using spectrophotometric methods while the mineral elements status were determined using AAS. Results: Results indicate carbohydrate, protein, fat, crude fibre, moisture and ash contents; 16.85%, 41.05%, 1.51%, 7.39%, 23.02 and 10.21% respectively. Vitamin and mineral analysis revealed the order folic acid > ascorbic acid > riboflavin > thiamin > β-carotene > α-tocopherol and Mn>Cu>K>Fe>Zn>Co>Ca>Na. The results of the phytochemical analyses revealed that the leaves contained various quantity of phytochemicals; alkaloids, glycosides, phenolics, phytates, saponins, flavonoids and tannins recorded 2.150.50, 0.230.01, 51.500.85, 2.280.32, 4.310.01, 2.300.01, and 2.610.29 respectively.
Conclusion: The leaves of Spilanthes uliginosa (Sw) contained numerous nutritional and phytochemical constituents. This study therefore concludes that Spilanthes uliginosa (Sw) is very nutritive despite the presence of some anti-nutritive components such as glycosides, phytates and tannins. The importance of medicinal plants to most developing countries cannot be over emphasized. Plants have been used for the healing and curing of many human diseases or injuries for thousands of years. However, in the present century this practice is being gradually dislodged by the introduction of synthetically derived drugs as well as Western medical practices. Traditional therapies continue to be practiced in all corners of the globe but largely under the harmony of a western biochemical model. Medicinal plants are of greatimportance because of the following reasons: Many of the plants can provide an alternative to imported drugs, ie plants can provide new substances that are useful against diseases for which suitable cure are not yet available.

Author(s): Uraku A.J and Ogbanhi M.E

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