Peru is a country rich in biodiversity. For millennia native traditional healers have used the rich flora to cure ailments. The same plants are still being used today. Traditional medicine continues to be very popular since a large part of the population has either no access to, or no resources from Western medicine. Bacterial infections and inflammation are among the ailments treated by traditional healers. Since the World Health Organization has expressed high interest in traditional medicine, it is important to demonstrate scientifically that remedies employed in folk medicine are indeed therapeutically active (Baker et al., l 995; Cox & Balick, 1994; Elisabetsky & Castilhos, 1990; Farnsworth et al., 1985; Munoz & Sauvain, 2002; Schultes, 1994).
Plants vvith potential antibacterial activity have recently come to the attention of Western scientists, and various studies have reported that some are bioactive (Perumal Samy & Ignacimuthu, 2000). Potentially active compounds have been isolated from a few of the plants tested (D'Agostino et al., 1995 a,b; Okuyama et al., 1994; Rodriguez et al., 1994; Umana & Castro, 1990).
Plant species from the Cordillera Blanca, one of the high-altitude areas of Peru, have been studied in recent years for their antimicrobial, anti-cancer, and wound healing activities (Neto et al., 2002; Hammond et al., 1998 ; Lee at. al., 1999 ; Villegas et al., 1997). However, despite the fact that the center of healing traditions in Northern Peru is located in the Trujillo/Chiclayo coastal region, no studies have been undertaken in this area so far.
In this communication we report on antibacterial assays for 171 plant species with a wide range of traditional uses (Additional File 1), conducted under simple laboratory conditions in a private clinic in Trujillo. The goal of the investigation was to validate the medicinal use of these plants.