Anti-Malaria Activity of Three Zulu Medicinal Plants


Anti-plasmodial activity of some Zulu medicinal plants and of some triterpenes isolated from them

Mthokozisi B. C. Simelane, Addmore Shonhai, Francis O. Shode, Peter Smith, Mogie Singh and Andy R. Opoku
2013 Oct 8;18(10):12313-23
PubMed PMID: 24108397
Mimusops caffra
Mimusops caffra (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Michaelwild)

Researchers at the University of Zululand, University of Cape Town, and University of KwaZulu-Natal analyzed crude extracts and specific isolates of three medicinal plants used by the Zulu people as treatments for malaria, for activity against Plasmodium falciparum (one of the parasites that causes malaria in humans): Mimusops caffra, Mimusops obtusifolia, and Hypoxis colchicifolia.

The team verified anti-malaria activity of M. caffra in particular, which though not as high as that reported for the standards (chloroquine and artesunate), was found to be dose dependent, and with low toxicity levels, and encouraged continued exploration of M. caffra in managing malaria in traditional medicine.

From the Introduction:

“Malaria is one of the major health problems in tropical Africa, South-east Asia, Central South America and Oceania. Despite the various efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations aimed at eradicating the disease, malaria is said to kill a child every 30 s. Malaria cases have been reported in other areas of the World that were previously considered eradicated of malaria. In Africa, herbal medicines are an important part of the culture and traditions of its people.
“Traditional healers use different concoctions prepared from medicinal plants to treat malaria. Given the remarkable anti-malarial properties of Cinchona bark that have been known for more than 300 years, resulting in the discovery of quinine and the more recent development of artemisinin derivatives, the potential of plant species to provide effective drugs for the treatment of malaria cannot be overemphasized. Furthermore, the drug resistance of the malaria parasite to chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine, and also the toxicity of the currently available drugs have stimulated the search for alternative medicines which are naturally derived. In addition, modern health care to the rural people is still a far-reaching goal, due to economic constraints and many vulnerable groups depend on plant-based traditional healing. The anti-malarial activity of many plants has been reported. An ethonobotanical survey revealed the extensive utilization of M. caffra, M. obtusifolia and H. colchicifolia for the management of malaria in Zulu traditional medicine.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

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