Herbs can increase effectiveness of malaria drugs —Experts

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Worldwide the greatest fear is that the malaria parasite might develop resistance to the drug of choice, Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT).
In fact, health experts are worried that more people may become ill or die due to the rapid speed of these drug resistant malaria parasites, especially now in the rainy season when malaria cases are on the rise.
Scientists have been working for years to target increasing partial resistance to top anti-malaria drug, artemisinin. Focus has been on identifying herbs that can boost the effectiveness of artemisinin, as a treatment for malaria.
In a new study, scientists found mangosteen rind as partner drug of artemisinin for treating malaria. Its different extract in combination with artemisinin had very strong antimalarial effect.
For the study, the scientists tested the antimalarial effect of mangosteen rind extract and its fractions in combination with artemisinin against malaria parasites under laboratory conditions.
This 2017 study aimed at exploring the potential of mangosteen rind as partner drug of artemisinin for treating malaria was published in journal, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Moreover, scientists also found a combination of Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Asofeyeje in Yoruba), or Moringa oleifera (Ewe Igbale or drumstick tree)leaf extracts can also increase the antimalarial effect of artesunate, and as such a low dose of artesunate will be required in treating malaria.
In 2016, Thailand scientists tested the effect Gynostemma pentaphyllum or Moringa oleifera leaf extracts on the effectiveness of artesunate in treating malaria.
In animals under laboratory conditions, the combination with G. pentaphyllum leaf extract was more effective than the combination that had Moringa oleifera leaf extract.
Additionally, artesunate combined with these extracts had a higher antimalarial activity, compared to extract treated alone G. pentaphyllum leaf extract or M. oleifera leaf extract.
From the study, 500, 1,000, and 2,000 mg/kg doses of G. pentaphyllum leaf extract inhibited malaria parasite by 45, 50, and 55per cent, respectively. These extracts exhibited a dose-dependent manner. As the dose increased, likewise the antimalarial activity increased significantly.
The extracts were given orally either alone or in combination with artesunate (6 mg/kg) for four consecutive days.
The reference drug, artesunate (6 mg/kg), caused 60 per cent suppression, which was higher than that of the extract treated groups.
In addition, 500, 1,000, and 2,000 mg/kg of M. oleifera leaf extract inhibited malaria parasite by 73, 82, and 91 per cent, respectively. Hence, the antimalarial activity of M. oleifera leaf extract combined with artesunate was greater than the effect of artesunate or selected doses of the M. oleifera leaf extract when used singly in infected mice.
In this study, untreated and artesunate treated mice were used as negative and positive controls, respectively.
According to them, the mice were safe with the different doses of these extracts administered to them.
Written in the Journal of Tropical Medicine, the scientists concluded: “the addictive effect of these extracts with artesunate is important in the context that offers opportunities to further standardise new ACT as possible antimalarial combination.”
In addition, experts have found that herbs such as Cryptolepis sanguinolenta (paran pupa in Yoruba) can also boost the effectiveness of artemisinin-based combination therapy.
The aqueous or water root extract of C. sanguinolenta is patronised in rural West Africa as a herbal extract in the treatment of malaria even for patients who are on prescribed artemisinin derivatives.
In 2016, expert according to Malaria Journal looked at the possible toxicity and anti-malarial interaction of extract of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta when it is combined with some artemisinin derivatives.
Its combination produced a significant reduction in the level of malaria parasite in the blood from days one to six. At all doses, it also ensured higher malaria organism suppression in the first three days compared to the herbal extract only.
In addition, the rapid onset of anti-malarial activity continued through to the first three days of the combination treatment at all dose ratios.
According to them, “This indicates a possible rapid onset of antimalarial or antiplasmodial activity when Cryptolepis sanguinolenta extract is used in combination with ART compared to each of the drugs used alone.
“With the current three-day anti-malarial treatment, a combination of CPE, an extarct from Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, with ART may offer better choice for rapid clearance of parasites in the blood compared to any of the two agents used alone. Again, the long duration of action of this combination will ensure efficient parasite clearance. “
In addition, the combination therapy, they said appears safe.
Previously in 2013, researchers at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Osun State also said that extracts of the stem bark of Khaya grandifoliola potentiated the antimalarial activity of Artemisinin. This was in the European Journal of Medicinal Plants.

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