Essential Oils Against Malaria

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Anti-plasmodial and insecticidal activities of the essential oils of aromatic plants growing in the Mediterranean area

Mario Dell’Agli, Cinzia Sanna, Patrizia Rubiolo, Nicoletta Basilico, Elisa Colombo, Maria M Scaltrito, Mamadou Ousmane Ndiath, Luca Maccarone, Donatella Taramelli, Carlo Bicchi, Mauro Ballero, Enrica Bosisio
Malar J
2012 Jul 2;11:219
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3441327
Sardinia
Sardinia (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers at Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Università degli Studi di Torino and Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire undertook a screening study to evaluate the anti-plasmodial activity of aromatic plants traditionally used in Sardinia against malaria: Myrtus communis (myrtle, Myrtaceae), Satureja thymbra (savory, Lamiaceae), and Thymus herba-barona (caraway thyme, Lamiaceae).

The authors found evidence for the use of essential oils for treating malaria and fighting the vector at both the larval and adult stages, opening the possibility for further investigation aimed at the isolation of natural products with anti-parasitic properties.

From the discussion:

“Among the three plants, S. thymbra showed the highest in vitro anti-plasmodial activity, especially against the [Chloroquine]-resistant strain. Moreover, the time of collection (before, during, and after flowering) did not influence the anti-plasmodial effect, which appeared to be mainly associated with thymol, one of the components of the [Essential oil]. These results are in agreement with a recent report that the [Essential oil] of Oreganum compactum, rich in thymol, shows anti-plasmodial activity in vitro. Such a conclusion is corroborated by the data obtained with the [Essential oils] of M. communis and T. herba-barona since the latter, which does not contain thymol, possesses lower activity against P. falciparum. Moreover, the activity of thymol was selective against the parasites with low cytotoxicity against human dermal fibroblasts.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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