Treating malaria is much simpler and more effective with herbal-based medicines, OYEYEMI GBENGA-MUSTAPHA writes.
Despite the huge funds voted for its treatment and prevention yearly, malaria remains a thorn in the flesh of many Nigerians.
The choice of the theme “End malaria for good”, by the WHO for its World Malaria Day celebration, is, therefore, apt, an expert has said.
The event, which coincides with WHO’s 25th anniversary to be held next week, is focusing on the disease’s prevention, which, observers said, is a strategy for reducing the disease that kills over 400,000 people yearly globally. Since 2000, malaria prevention has played an important role in reducing cases and deaths.
The expert, Mr Samuel Etatuvie, said malaria is caused by a parasite of the species plasmodium , spread by infected mosquitoes. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment were necessary to control the disease and to save the lives of those afflicted, he said.
In consonance with WHO, Etatuvie, who is the Nigerian Agency for Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency Director-General, said avoiding mosquito is the best way to treating malaria. “That is, never to catch it in the first place, but to avoid mosquitoes in the tropical world is difficult, to say the least. Powerful bug spray(specifically those good for mosquitoes) is good; you should add mosquito netting to your bed and windows, so you can sleep soundly, knowing that you won’t wake up in two weeks with the symptoms of malaria. You should also ensure that there are no large pools of standing water near your home, as those are the perfect places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs,” he explained.
Etatuvie said recent successes in the malaria elimination had shown that prevention works: expanded access to proven, as cost-effective prevention tools has significantly reduced the global disease burden.
“A new brochure from WHO, released ahead of World Malaria Day offers a summary of WHO-recommended tools in the malaria prevention arsenal. It highlights remaining gaps in coverage and the need for new anti-malaria tools. But if you still come down with malaria, there are ways to quickly treat same, especially before the condition becomes complicated,” he said.
He identified the symptoms, which may include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, shaking chills, nausea and vomiting. These may come and go, but they appear seven to nine days after being bitten.
Etatuvie said proper malaria treatment was possible using herbs as long as you know what type you have. ”Some strains can remain dormant in the system for months or years after the initial exposure. There are three types of malaria: Tertian Fever, Quartan Fever and Malignant Fever. In Tertian Fever, the attacks happen on alternate days. With Quartan Fever, the attack of fever happens after an interval of two days, for example, first fever will occur on the first day, then again on the fourth day, then the seventh, and so on. Malignant Tertian is a very severe type that is the most alarming,” he explained.
While Tertian and Quartan Fevers can be treated at home, Malignant Tertian must be treated in a hospital. Complications of malaria include anemia, dysentery and kidney failure.
Explaining the role of the celebrated Artemisia Annu a in the treatment of malaria, he said, Artemisia annua, also known as sweet wormwood ( Morinda lucida, Owuro, Yoruba ), is one of the most effective natural remedies for malaria. “That is even the WHO recommendation for the treatment of malaria from mono therapy to artemisinin-based combination therapy. Big players in the anti-malarial manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry have all bought into this. Hard to believe, it took so long for conventional medicine to accept the herbal drug artemisinin as an effective treatment for malaria, though it has been used for a millennium and a half, it has been considered ‘acceptable’ by modern medicine for barely 40 years.
“But now, it’s in short supply, and producing drugs with smaller dosages won’t work – a drug containing only half of the active ingredient won’t cure malaria and, in fact, will create drug resistance. Two well-known malaria drugs – chloroquine and pyrimethamine are already useless because of drug resistance. To get the best of the plant, the herb has to be steeped in cold water, and the water should be consumed directly in order to get optimum results.
“Our agency, the Nigerian Agency for Nigerian Natural Medicine Development Agency, has come up with scientifically proven and efficacious products – mosquito repellant cream, and anti-malarial tea. These were even showcased at the just-concluded Technology innovation expo held in Abuja. I will recommend these to Nigerians because they are highly efficacious both in the prevention and treatment of malaria,” Etatuvie said.
On other Nature’s provisions to treat uncomplicated
falciparum malaria, Etatuvie said: “The benefits of lemon or lime tea for weight loss are well-known but they are also handy in treating malaria as home remedies. Lime and lemon also play a vital role to reduce the quartan type of malarial fever. Take four to five drops of lime, add the juice of one lemon and dissolve it in one glass of water. This mixture needs to be consumed before the onset of fever. Lemon juice is also an effective home remedy for the treatment of malaria. Take two to three tablespoon of lemon juice and mix in half cup of water. Take this mixture during the initial stage of fever. Grapefruit is a great remedy for curing malaria. Sufferer should take raw grapefruit or its juice. Other fruits, which are good for patient suffering from malaria, are apple, orange, etc. If a patient cannot eat these fruits, freshly prepared fruit juice should be given.
“Fruit and vegetable meal plan is always great when it comes to treating the body. One of the most effective home remedies for malaria is grapefruit. It should be consumed daily. The natural quinine-like substance can be extracted from the grapefruit by boiling a quarter of it and straining its pulp.”
He said cinnamon is a valuable remedy for treating malaria. “One teaspoon of powdered cinnamon should be boiled in a glass of water with a pinch of pepper powder and a teaspoon of honey. This needs to be taken every day which is a beneficial medicine for malaria. As home remedies for malaria one can include cinnamon with clove powder. Take two to three teaspoon of finely powdered cloves and cinnamon and mix in a glass of water. Boil this mixture until the constituent become half. Allow it to cool and add little amount of black pepper or honey to it. Patient can take this mixture two to three times a day. This is a very old remedy for curing malaria.
“Holy basil leaves are good in the prevention of malaria. Make a paste using 11 grammes of holy basil leaves with three grammes of black pepper powder. This mixture can be consumed daily in the cold stages of malarial fever. This will check the severity of the disease. Ginger is one of the oldest home remedies for treating chronic diseases. Take a small piece of ginger and two to three teaspoon raisins. Add this to a glass of water and boil it till the constituent become half. Allow it to cool, and then give to the sufferer.”
He said Neem ( Dongoyaro) biologically called
Azadirachta indica , a tree in the mahogany family, is plethora in our environment. “We use the plant’s leaves and bark to treat malaria. Its extract substantially increases the state of oxidation in red blood cells, preventing normal development of the malaria plasmodia. Neem can block the development of the gamete in an infected person. This not only prevent the infected person from developing malaria but also stops the disease from spreading. Two other compounds found in neem leaves called gedunin, a limonoid, and quercetin, a flavonoid, are at least, as effective as quinine and chloroquine against malaria. Neem also lowers the fever and increases the appetite, thereby strengthening the body, which aids in fighting the disease parasite and speeding recovery. Neem leaf extract substantially increases the state of oxidation in red blood cells, preventing normal development of the malaria plasmodia.
“Drinking Neem teas or chewing a couple of its leaves daily reduces the possibility of contracting malaria. According to reports, Neem cures the disease in one week; it is very good in persistent cases. Drink one glass of Neem thrice daily. The extract is made by boiling 30g of Neem leaves in three litres of water for 20 minutes. Some Westerners familiar with Neem often substitute an occasional Neem leaf tea to drinking quinine on trips to malaria-infested areas of Africa and India as a preventive measure. Neem extracts tested by the Malaria Institute were found to repel the mosquito that causes malaria for up to 12 hours. Neem provides protection from not only mosquitoes but also from biting flies, sand fleas and ticks. Because of Neem’s proven effectiveness, insect repellents made with Neem are being used in malaria prone tropical countries. An active ingredient in Neem leaves, called Irodin A, is toxic to resistant strains of malaria, with 100 percent of the plasmodia dead in 72 hours with only a 1:20,000 ratio of active ingredients.”
Etatuvie continued: “Most importantly, maintain a clean and hygienic surrounding and prevent yourself from malaria by using the above-home remedies. Keep yourself healthy by eating the right kind of foods and keeping away from mosquitoes by using mosquito repellent creams, medications and devices and don’t forget to use the mosquito net at night.”
He appealed to healers across the country to contact his agency to document their innovations: “We haven’t been able to document properly. If you look at the practice, it is transfer from one generation to the other. In fact, this is one of our core areas of strength – documentation. We need to document the practice for continuity in practice. The essence of our documentation is to ensure that the agency has what we call the national comprehensive inventory of medicinal plants. Once we do that, we will be able to put it in book and practitioners will have access to them.
‘’We also encourage practitioners to document their own formulas, to prevent scarcity of information on the practice. Prior to this time, most aged practitioners died with their knowledge without passing it to the next generation. Although some people think everything herbal is fetish, it is not so.
This country has very huge numbers bio-resources in the nine geological areas and six geopolitical zones. We have places, such as the Obudu Cattle Ranch, Osogbo Groove and Mambila Plateau. All these places have special climatic conditions, which produce special effects in the medicinal plants grown there. We must document to narrow down on areas of specialisation. This enables researchers to work better on pharmacopeia.’’
~ Master Yoda