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Fight World Hunger
Home Original News Curcumin Fights Malaria
Curcumin Fights Malaria PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Thursday, 17 February 2005 00:00

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 300 million people are affected each year by malaria resulting in roughly 1 to 1.5 million deaths worldwide. Previously extremely widespread, malaria exists in 100 countries but is mainly confined to poorer tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. More than 90% of malaria cases and the great majority of malaria deaths occur in tropical Africa.

The parasite Plasmodium falciparum is the main cause of severe clinical malaria and death. The parasites are transferred through the bite of infected blood feeding female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. In humans, parasites multiply exponentially in the liver and then in infected red blood cells. Mosquitoes ingest parasites with a blood meal, where the parasites undergo another reproductive phase inside the mosquito before being passed on to another human.

The problems of controlling malaria in these countries are aggravated by inadequate health structures and poor socioeconomic conditions. The situation has become even more complex over the last few years with the increase in resistance to the drugs normally used to combat the parasite that causes the disease. Drug-resistance combined with limited availability of antimalarials has contributed to the persistence of this infectious disease.

Curcumin is the bright yellow flavonoid present in the spice turmeric and is used in many Indian dishes. Curcumin has been shown to possess anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to these properties, curcumin has also been shown to have anti-microbial activity. Curcumin has been found to be safe. It has shown no signs of toxicity in humans in experimental trials taking over 3 months where participants took 8,000 mg of curcumin per day.

Now in the January 2005 issue of Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications the authors of a study demonstrate the anti-malarial properties of this compound.

The scientists infected 2 groups of mice with Plasmodium berghei and administered curcumin orally for 5 consecutive days, 48 hours after infection in one of the groups. Plasmodium berghei is one of the many species of malaria parasites that infect mammals other than humans. The rodent parasites are not of direct practical concern to man or his domestic animals. The interest of rodent malaria parasites is that they are practical models for the experimental study of mammalian malaria.

The scientists found that the group that was given the curcumin had their parasites reduced by more than 80% and completely protected 29% of infected mice. Those mice that did not receive any curcumin all died within 21 days.

The authors conclude, “curcumin appears to be an ideal antimalarial molecule especially for use in combination with antimalarials such as artemisinin not only to limit the use of the latter but to overcome the problems of high cost, recrudescence [a new outbreak after a period of inactivity], and drug resistance. In view of its abundance, non-toxic nature, and demonstrated therapeutic effects in a variety of human diseases, it will be useful to further investigate the potential of curcumin in developing low-cost antimalarial therapies.”


Source: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, January 2005
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Last Updated on Friday, 11 September 2009 16:15