Assessment of microbial quality of some traditional medicines on the Ghanaian market

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It is of great importance to ensure the efficacy, stability and safety of Pharmaceutical products of which traditional medicines are no exception. Microbial contamination of Pharmaceutical products can have many adverse effects on the user. They may lead to spoilage through physical or chemical change and thus render the active constituents less potent and even toxic thereby presenting a 4 potential health hazard to users. In this study of “Microbial quality assessment of traditional medicines on the Ghanaian market” samples of traditional drugs were collected from manufacturing houses, pharmacies, licensed chemical shops, lorry stations and markets and tested for the presence or absence of micro-organisms and types of microorganism if present. In all 50 products were sampled for testing and were made up of 25 liquid preparations, 15 ointments and creams, 5 powders and 5 emulsions. It was found that 76% of the drugs tested were contaminated by either one or more of the following organisms: coagulase positive and negative staphylococci, E. coli and other enterobacteria, salmonellae, moulds, and yeast-like fungi. The study showed that most of the local traditional medicines on our market are not safe for use due to their poor microbial quality. Most of the products examined had harmful organisms, while others had aerobic viable counts in excess of the stipulated and acceptable limits of 1 per gram or per millilitre. The products might have been contaminated during production, packaging, handling or from the raw materials used. It is very essential to ensure microbial quality of all traditional herbal medicines on the Ghanaian market.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi,in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Degree of Master of Pharmacy (Pharmaceutics), 2000