Malaria is a priority on the list of global health issues. WHO estimates that more than 250 million people in tropical Africa suffer from the disease each year. About 90 million cases become clinical, as a result of which the death toll from the disease increased to 2 million per year. According to WHO forecasts, this figure could double in the next 20 years. And what is scary, mostly children are sick.
The main reason for the increase in mortality, WHO called the development of resistance in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria. The organization recognized the need for continuous research to develop new drugs that can inhibit or reverse this process.
What is malaria and what is scary
Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted through the bites of the anopheles mosquito. Accompanied by chills, because of what it used to be called “swamp fever”, an increase in the size of the spleen, liver and anemia. What is especially unpleasant, the course of the disease can be recurrent in nature. There are several species caused by different parasites and routes of infection. A person can get such a gift when given a prick in a hospital or even with normal contact with a patient.
Humanity has long been familiar with the problem. The first evidence of malaria fever was recorded in Chinese annals around 2700 BC. e. It is difficult to say how people fought against it at that time, but even today we can say that humanity is afraid of malaria.
It is difficult to protect oneself from the disease, it develops very quickly or, on the contrary, lasts a long time in the blood, but in any case can end in a coma or even death. The latter is especially true for pregnant women and young children.
In most cases, treatment is carried out in a hospital. Even if malaria can be completely cured, the consequences for the internal organs will be terrifying. Liver and heart will inevitably suffer. Applied drugs will also contribute to a large number of side effects.
Of course, the human body in the process of evolution has adapted to the disease. There are various forms of immunity: congenital, acquired active and passive. But the most reliable, the first, can boast only representatives of the local population, mostly black.
White tourists, once in Africa, are at greater risk of getting sick. That is why the strongest medical institutes are trying to create a vaccine. And while it is not, you have to use less effective, including preventive means. But attempts to find an effective remedy continue, and it would seem that nature itself offers the means to combat the action of malaria, which is so destructive to the human body.
African flora against malaria
Amaranth is popular in Africa. In Africa, indigenous plants are traditionally used in the treatment of malaria. Moreover, there is a huge amount of them, and in different regions they have their own priorities. Scientists could not disregard this fact. They began to study the properties of African plants, which could help in creating compounds with anti-plasma activity.
The fact that 9 out of 11 species of local plants of the family of cloves produce pigment with betalain instead of the usual anthocyanin was taken into account. For example, in Burkina Faso, many betalain-containing species have long been used to treat various types of diseases, such as malaria, liver diseases, jaundice, and insufficient urinary output. With their help, heal wounds. One of the most popular are Amaranthus spinosus and Boerhaavia Erecta. There was no scientific evidence of antimalarial properties, but there was ample evidence of healing.
Use of amaranth in medicine Researchers from the University of Ouagudugou (Burkina Faso) decided to fill this gap. For
The experiments used dried Amaranth stalks of red color. First, they were crushed into powder, then boiled in distilled water, after which they scrolled the decoction in a centrifuge and freeze-dried.
A combination of several methods was used to assess the physico-chemical composition, which made it possible to obtain more accurate data. A large number of amino acids and secondary compounds, a small number of alkaloids, chromoalkoloids and phenols have been noted.
Young mice infected with the strain Plasmodium berghei berghei were used as the experimental material. This strain is sensitive to chloroquine with antiprotozoal properties. If you do not go into the description of the medical intricacies of the experiment, it all looked so. Infected mice were divided into several groups and “treated” with different doses of the resulting aqueous-alcoholic preparation. Part of the “treated” Chloroquin, widely used for the treatment of malaria.
Four days later, blood samples were taken from all mice and counted the number of parasites. The result struck everyone. In animals affected by Amaranth, their blood was half as much as in abandoned animals! A double dose of the drug reduced their blood levels to 32% compared with the control group. The mice that were treated with Chloroquine looked worse. 56% of parasites remained in their blood.
The experience explains why the stems of these plants are successfully used as food seasonings during periods of seasonal malaria (during the rainy season). Locals usually take a large amount of decoction (about one liter three times a day), which exceeds the dose used in the above experience. Such drinking allows you to achieve complete purification of the blood of parasites and cure the patient.
Of course, on the African continent grow other plants, which differ even in great effect. But they are many times more toxic than Amaranth. In addition, it raises the question of the complexity of their storage, since it requires prior freezing before use.
It is well known that the betalains contained in Amaranth have potent antimicrobial, antiviral and antitumor properties. We wrote about their use in medicine in the article “Diseases subject to amaranth oil”.
Plasmodium requires magnesium and iron ions for synthesis. That is why many metallogylates are successfully used as antimalarial drugs. Batalins bind inhibitors of plasmoid reactions and thereby actively fight it. The structure of betanin and amarantin contains quaternary nitrogen, which prevents the growth of the plasmoid by blocking choline transport. And it is simply necessary for the growth of its cells.
In conclusion, we note that this work scientifically confirmed the effectiveness of the Amaranth Spinous extract. Researchers consider it expedient to achieve obtaining biologically purified active ingredients. Enriched fractions of such components or their pure compounds may allow an assessment of activity at different phases of the parasite’s life.
All these results will potentially contribute to the creation of a new antimalarial drug based on ethnobotany. Perhaps they will also be able to create a tool on the basis of Amaranth, which will help to quickly get rid of the effects of past malaria. After all, the beneficial properties of this plant is more than enough. By the way, you can find out about them in our article “Amaranth – a priceless diamond of the storeroom of nature.” So let’s hope and wait for good news!