The use of phytotherapy to treat human diseases has its roots in pre-historical times. Despite the modern advances achieved in the field of synthetic chemistry, the most efficient drugs available have their genesis directly or indirectly related with the vegetal kingdom. Indigenous communities have long used plant extracts to treat illnesses. Many of these extracts have shown effective action, with new bioactive compounds being extracted and screened every year. These extracts have also proven to be good sources of therapeutic agents to the treatment of Leishmaniasis. This work highlights some of these agents, while trying to emphasize the importance of plants as a source of new and powerful drugs against this widespread disease. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
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