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April 2020 (Vol. 5 Issue 2)

Chicken soup for the soul, and malaria
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Chicken soup for the soul, and malaria image

Chicken soup isn't only good for the soul—it could also fight off malaria, too.

Traditional soups and broths are as effective as the standard anti-malarial drug, Eurartesim (dihydroartemisinin), in blocking the parasite that causes malaria.

The soups slowed the growth of the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, by more than 50 percent, which is comparable to the drug.

Nine soups and broths—all based on traditional recipes—were tested for their anti-malarial qualities by researchers from Imperial College London.

The researchers had asked schoolchildren to bring soups based on old family recipes from across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for the experiment. The soups had been traditionally used to help reduce fever.

Although all the soups had a vegetarian, chicken or beef base, the other ingredients were different—and yet all could either curb the growth of the parasite or stop it from maturing and infecting mosquitoes.

This suggests that there are other active ingredients—beyond artemisinin, which is the basis of the drug—that can fight malaria, although the researchers say they haven't isolated or identified them yet.

It's important they do with resistance to the frontline anti-malarials increasing. Malaria kills 400,000 people a year and infects more than 200 million.

"We have to look beyond the chemistry shelf for new drugs, and natural remedies shouldn't be off our watch list," said researcher Jake Baum.


References

(Source: Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2019; doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2019-317590)

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