The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Alma-Ata (1978) declaration in Primary Health Care (PHC) paved way for the official recognition of traditional medicine as a source of primary healthcare.Since then, healthcare delivery has tremendously improved with the combination of phytomedicine and orthodox medicine in most part of the world, especially in Africa.
Recent studies have shown that plants are an embodiment of important chemicals, which are bioactive in nature and are mostly essential to health. Among such groups of chemicals are carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins, dietary fibre, minerals, amino acids, prebiotics, and phytoestrogens.
Persea americana of the family Lauraceae, is the botanical name of the plant that bears avocado pear as fruit. This plant is among such plants that contribute to health improvement due to the fact that they contain some important chemicals. The avocado pear is a well known plant in West Africa and Nigeria. The fruits are edible while the bark, leaves, stem and roots are used as local medicine against diseases. In Nigeria, the fruits are gathered for household use or for sale in local markets.
The avocado seed oil has several health benefits, including weight control. Its leaves have also been reported to possess analgesic abilities. The edible part (fruit) is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, as a substitute for meat in sandwiches and salads, because of its high fat content. It is high in valuable, health-promoting fats.
Also, the avocado seed has diverse application in ethno–medicine, ranging from treatment for diarrhoea, dysentery, toothache, intestinal parasites, skin treatment to beautification. It has also been reported by researchers to be effective against hepato-toxicity, inflammation, cancer and hypertension.
A recent study conducted at Achiever’s University, Owo, Nigeria by Matthew Olaniyan on the “Effect of Liquid Extract of Pear Avocado Leaf (Persea americana) on Plasma Levels of Aminotransferases, Cholesterol and Total Bile Acids in Hypertensive Patients”, published in the American Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences, reported the medicinal importance of raw liquid extract of avocado pear leaf in the treatment of hypertension in humans.
The study, which was carried out in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, Nigeria, was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the liquid extract of pear avocado leaf in the treatment of hypertension.
According to the study, 50 newly diagnosed hypertensive human subjects with abnormally increased plasma cholesterol and high blood pressure levels, all of whom were aged 45 and above and had, never in the past, been treated with any form of hypertensive medication were recruited from Saki-East and Saki-West Local government areas of Oke-Ogun, Northern part of Oyo state and exposed to the liquid extract of avocado pear plant.
However, before exposure to the treatment, their blood samples were taken and analysed for total cholesterol level and other biochemical parameters for hypertension both before and after the treatment.
The results as reported by Matthew Olaniyan stated that “total cholesterol level in subjects and other biochemical parameters showed a significant alteration after the administration of liquid extracts of avocado pear leaf.”
This study, thus established the effectiveness of liquid extracts of avocado pear leaf in the treatment of hypertension.
The leaves of avocado pear, according to natural health experts, can be cut into pieces, dried and made into tea for the management of hypertension and increased heart beat rate.
Also, the avocado fruit is very nutritious and contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals including potassium, heart friendly monosaturated fatty acids and fibre.