Use of plants in novel approaches for control of gastrointestinal helminths in livestock with emphasis on small ruminants
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Githiori, J.B.; Athanasiadou, S.; Thamsborg, S.M. 2006. Use of plants in novel approaches for control of gastrointestinal helminths in livestock with emphasis on small ruminants. Veterinary Parasitology 139(4):308-320.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/1390
Helminth infections are a major cause for reduced productivity in livestock, particularly those owned by the poor worldwide. Phytomedicine has been used for eons by farmers and traditional healers to treat parasitism and improve performance of livestock, and many modern commercial medicines are derived from plants. However, scientific evidence on the anti-parasitic efficacy of most plant products is limited, regardless of their wide ethnoveterinary usage. Scientific validation of the anti-parasitic effects and possible side-effects of plant products in ruminants is necessary prior to their adoption as a novel method for parasite control. A variety of methods has been explored to validate the anthelmintic properties of such plant remedies, both in vivo and in vitro. In vitro assays are useful as pre-screens of activity and are mainly performed with the free-living rather than parasitic stages of nematodes. Concentrations of potentially active substances used in vitro do not always correspond to in vivo bioavailability. Therefore, in vitro assays should always be accompanied by in vivo studies when used to validate the anthelmintic properties of plant remedies. In vivo controlled studies have shown that plant remedies have in most instances resulted in reductions in the level of parasitism much lower than those observed with anthelmintic drugs. Whether it is necessary or not to achieve very high efficacy in order for plant remedies to have a role in the control of parasitism depends on the determination of biologically important levels of reduction of parasitism and it will be required prior to the wide-scale use of plant products for parasite control. Similarly, standardisation of validation studies in reference to the numbers of animals required for in vivo studies to measure direct anthelmintic effects of a plant needs to be established. Although in many cases the active compounds in the herbal remedies have not been fully identified, plant enzymes, such as cysteine proteinases, or secondary metabolites, such as alkaloids, glycosides and tannins have shown dose-dependent anti-parasitic properties. However, as some of the active compounds may also have anti-nutritional effects, such as reduced food intake and performance, it is essential to validate the anti-parasitic effects of plant products in relation to their potential anti-nutritional and other side effects. A concerted effort on isolation, development, and validation of the effects of these herbal remedies will have to be undertaken before their wider acceptance.
John B. Githiori is ILRI author