Fungi are eukaryotic microorganisms that are closely related to humans at cellular level. Human fungal pathogens belong to various classes of fungi, mainly zygo- cetes, ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, and deuteromycetes. In recent years, fungal infections have dramatically increased as a result of improved diagnosis, high frequency of catheterization, instrumentation, etc. However, the main cause remains the increasing number of immunosuppressed patients, mostly because of HIV infection and indiscriminate usage of antineoplastic and immunosuppressive agents, broad-spectrum antibiotics and prosthetic devices, and grafts in clinical settings. Presently available means of combating fungal infections are still weak and clumsy compared to control of bacterial infection. The present scenario of antifungal therapy is still based on two classes of antifungal drugs (polyenes and azoles). These drugs are effective in many cases, but display toxicity and limited spectrum of ef?cacy. The recent trend towards emergence of drug-resistant isolates in the clinic is an additional problem. In recent years, a few new antifungal drugs have entered the clinics, but they are expected to undergo same fate as the older antifungal drugs. The application of fungal genomics offers an unparalleled opportunity to develop novel antifungal drugs. However, it is too early to expect any novel drugs, as the antifungal drug discovery program is in the stage of infancy. Interestingly, several novel antifungal drug targets have been identi?ed and validated.
Oral health loss is one of the major problems existing all over the world and is one of the top causes of death when unmanaged. The oral cavity is home to numerous pathogenic microorganisms, some of which are responsible for the progression and development of various systemic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and myocardial infarction. Worldwide, 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities, often leading to pain and discomfort. There are implications for the global economy as well, due to the continuous burden of investing resources to maintain oral hygiene. Not surprisingly, developing countries are disproportionally affected. There is thus an urgent need to develop economical solutions for the treatment of oral diseases. The trend of exploring plants or plant-derived compounds for the prevention and cure of death-causing diseases is on the rise. The use of traditional medicine for oral diseases is an ancient practice in which medicinal herbs play a major role. Medicinal plants have minimal side effects and no denigrating properties. Accordingly the use of medicinal plants to curtail oral pathogens has been reported by a number of studies.
The present book updates the issues related to oral health, oral diseases and the role of medicinal plants in overcoming orally-derived health problems. We also highlight the knowledge gaps in oral health related problems with medicinal plants as one of the solutions. Our ultimate goal is to encourage future research and application of medicinal plants for economical and efficient treatment of oral diseases.