On the 25th of April, people around the globe observe World Malaria Day—a day to commemorate the collective fight against this deadly disease. Malaria is a parasitic disease that causes flu-like symptoms, anemia, chills and high fever.
The name malaria is derived from the 18th-century Italian word mala, which means ‘bad’, and aria, which means ‘air’. This is probably because people initially thought that the disease was caused by foul air in marshy areas.
But malaria is actually caused by a single cell parasite (Plasmodium) that is passed from one human to another by the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease in humans is caused by four different species of Plasmodium: Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium ovale. (Also Read: 5 Easy Ways To Prevent Malaria)
This parasite enters the bloodstream and begins infecting the red blood cells. It rapidly multiplies within the red blood cells which breaks open within 48 to 72 hours thus infecting more red blood cells. This is why symptoms of malaria appear in cycles of 48 to 72 hours. The earliest symptoms of malaria are usually noticed between 8 days and 4 weeks after the infection.
Symptoms Of Malaria
- Muscle pains
- Dry cough
- Enlarged Spleen
- Bloody stools
Your doctor may check for an enlarged spleen or liver during the physical examination. Blood smear samples collected at six to 12 hour intervals can confirm the diagnosis. A complete blood count could determine if the individual suffers from anemia resulting from a malarial infection.
Herbs For Malaria
While anti-malarial drugs are the first line of treatment for the disease, several herbs have been found to be effective in providing relief from symptoms of malaria. Some prominent ones are:
1. Papaya (Paw Paw) Leaves
The mature leaves of papaya (Carica papaya) are widely used to treat malaria and the fruit is useful in treating anemia caused by malaria. Papaya leaves contain important nutrients that strengthen the immune system, including vitamins A, C, and E.(1)
How To Take It: Crush four fresh leaves of papaya to obtain a teaspoon of papaya juice. Have this juice three times daily for relief.
2. Pigeon Pea
The extracts of the roots and leaves of the pigeon pea plant (Cajanus cajan) yield two important compounds, logistylin A and C, and betulinic acid that proved useful against the Plasmodium falciparum strain.(2) The extracts of pigeon pea are also used to treat fever, dysentery, diabetes, hepatitis, and measles.(3,4)
How To Take It: Crush two leaves of the pigeon pea plant and consume it with a glass of water. Have it twice a day.
3. Sweet Wormwood
This herb is now cultivated globally as one of the most effective source of a potent anti-malarial drug, artemisinin. Artemisin isolated from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) has been used successfully against malarial infections.(5)
How To Take It: Take five to six dried leaves of the plant and steep it in warm water for 10 minutes. Drink this tea twice daily. You can buy sweet wormwood tea leaves online.
4. Holy Basil
The leaves of this herb contain the essential oil eugenol and other volatile compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.(6) It is especially helpful in combating malarial fever.(7)
How To Take It: Crush eight fresh basil leaves to obtain 11 grams of juice. Mix this with three grams of black pepper and take it twice daily to see improvement.
The content made available at Z Living has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by any other governmental agency. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
1. Adjanohoun JE, Aboubakar N, Dramane K, Ebot ME, Ekpere JA, Enoworock EG, Focho D, Gbile ZO, Kamanyi A, Kamsu K J, Keita A, Mbenkum T, Mbi CN, Mbiele AC, Mbome JC, Muberu NK, Nancy WL, Kongmeneck B, Satabie B, Sowora A, Tamze V, Wirmum CK. Organization of African Unity; Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, editor. Traditional Medicine and Pharmacopoeia: Contribution to ethno botanical and floristic studies in Cameroon. 1996.
2. Duker-Eshun G, Joroszewski JW, Asomaning WA, Oppong-Boachie F, Christensen SB. Antiplasmodial constiotuents of Cajanus cajan. Phytother Res. 2004;18(2):128–130.
3. Ambekar, S. C. Patil, A. P. Giri, and M. S. Kachole, “Proteinaceous inhibitors of trypsin and amylases in developing and germinating seeds of red gram (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp.),” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, vol. 72, pp. 57–62, 1996.
4. J. K. Grover, S. Yadav, and V. Vats, “Medicinal plants of India with anti-diabetic potential,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 81, no. 1, pp. 81–100, 2002.
5. Schwikkard S, Van Heerden FR. Antimalrial activity of plant metabolites. Nat Prod Rep. 2006;19:675–692.
6. Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000;7:7-13
7. Aneela Karim, Arfa Akram, Ali Akbar Sial, Areeba Noor Khan and Zahida Karim. Malaria: Treatment through nature. Wyno Academic Journal of Biological Sciences Vol. 1(6), PP. 30-34 June, 2013