Malaria now has a proven herbal remedy, says a new research!
In a recent study, scientists have demonstrated that the powdered dried leaves of the plant, Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood), has the ability to deliver artemisinin 40 times more effectively than purified artemisinin, and is highly capable of reducing malarial parasite infection in mice.
AdvertisementThe drug artemisinin is produced from the herb Artemisia annua extract. Artemisinin in combination with other anti-malarial drugs (Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy), is currently the best treatment option against chloroquine-resistant malarial parasites.
The reason for the greater effectiveness of the leaves of the Artemisia annua whole plant as opposed to the purified drug may also be partly due to the presence of other compounds such as flavonoids, in the dried leaves.
Flavonoids are known for their anti malarial properties, and are capable of working synergistically along with other components in the leaves to fight the parasite.
A team led by Mostafa Elfawal, microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts, fed the powdered leaves of Artemisia, grown in their lab, to mice in order to compare its effect with the pure form of artemisinin.
They found that there was a greater reduction of malarial parasites during the course of 12 to 72 hrs in mice that were administered with a low dose of the artemisinin through dried leaves than in mice fed with the pure form of the drug. This is because artemisinin from the whole plant enters the blood stream more readily than from the drug.
Say the researchers, 'We found that a single dose of WP (whole plant A. annua) containing 24 mg/kg artemisinin reduces parasitemia more effectively than a comparable dose of purified drug'.
The low dose of the drug was as effective as the high dose but the effect seems to fade away after 72 hours and hence multiple doses of the drug would be necessary to treat the malarial infection.
Further, using the powdered dried leaves of the whole plant instead of the purified form of artemisinin, can greatly help in reducing the cost of malarial treatment as the plant can be readily grown in most climates. Moreover, harvesting and pulverizing the leaves and checking out their potency and making capsules out of them are simple and cost-effective processes.
The scientists believe that the potency of this simple plant as an anti malarial therapy could help local business and could also function as a socio economic stimulus in developing countries.