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Natural compounds could pave way for novel anti-malaria drugs

March 15, 2011 - Washington

Researchers are turning to traditional medicines to fight against Malaria.

As of now, patients are treated with Artemisinin combination therapy but resistance of the parasite to this treatment is increasing.

In the face of this resistance, researchers are looking at natural compounds to provide a starting point for the development of new drugs.

Traditional remedies are widely used especially in areas of poverty or where there is no access to medical treatment.

The combination of artemisinin, flavanoids, and other compounds, which occur naturally in the leaves of Artemisia annua, increases the effectiveness of the treatment and decreases metabolism of the active ingredient.

Circumin (from turmeric) has anti-Malarial properties and is being tested for use against Cerebral malaria. Adding piperine (from black pepper seeds) to circumin increases the effectiveness of circumin 2000 times.

Plant extracts such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and neem oil also have use as insect repellents but are not as yet recommended for use by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers suggest following the Research Initiative on Traditional Anti-Malarial Methods (RITAM), which shows a consensus of observational and laboratory results with clinical clearance of parasites.

They also advocate the inclusion of native healers for the review of disease surveillance, ethnobotanical treatments, and changes in health care policy to increase the validity of these traditional medicines.

The study would appear in Malaria Journal on World Malaria Day on the 25th April 2011.


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