The practice of using different components of plant parts as a herbal remedy in the treatment of malaria in the community is commonplace.

However, many tests are still required to understand the contribution of each plant to the concoction’s effectiveness as a remedy for malaria.

In a new study, pineapple peel, a component of malarial home remedy, is proven to have mild antimalarial activity but a significant pain-relieving effect in rodents.  Fever, shivering, pain in the joints and headache are common symptoms of malaria.

Extracts of the pineapple peel could not significantly suppress the malaria parasite level at 7 days post-infection, but it mildly prolonged the survival of mice infected with malaria parasite up to day 21. Also, it demonstrated significant antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pineapple, commonly called “ope oyinbo” in Yoruba and “Nkw-aba” in Ibo is a tropical fruit with an exceptionally sweet taste and health benefits whose processing into juice generates a lot of waste. The peel, crown and core are major waste in the pineapple canning industry.

There are anecdotal and folkloric reports of the use of pineapple peel alone or in combination with other medicinal plants in the treatment of malaria, arthritis, typhoid infections, and gastrointestinal complaints like constipation. Pineapple peel also serves the purpose of flavouring herbal decoctions in addition to its medicinal properties.

Like the fruit, the peel is rich in Vitamin C which can build the overall immunity of the body; the peel can help with digestion and constipation, fight bacteria and intestinal parasites as well as help with coughing.

Scientists in different studies also suggested the extract of pineapple peel possesses anti-arthritic, hypolipidemic, antidiabetic, and neuroprotective effects in animals under laboratory conditions.

Indeed, the pulp of the African star apple or local cherry has also been shown to possess both suppressive and curative anti-malaria properties.

Researchers said the fruit pulp and seed of wild star apple may be valuable in pregnancy where it may serve as an intermittent preventive therapy (IPT) against malaria.

The study, published in the journal, Ancient Science of Life, noted that “On comparison with equal doses, it becomes obvious that both the ethanol seed extract and the pulp juice have higher chemo-suppressive potency than the methanol bark extract.”

“On the curative effect, the result from the bark is comparable with that of seed extract and the pulp juice. Even though the statistical relevance of the comparison between our results and the previously published data remains to be verified, our results seem to suggest the seed has more antimalarial principles than the pulp.”

The researchers added: “The sampled plant parts can be used for treatment and prevention of malaria both in pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. It also shows the plant has the potential of serving as IPT against malaria in pregnancy. Pregnancy predisposes to malaria infection, and IPT was initiated to control the menace of the infection to both the mother and the unborn child. Traditional consumption of the pulp by pregnant women does not suggest any harm to the mothers or their babies.”

“Also, the results of the oral acute toxicity test show the pulp to be considered safe. This opinion is strengthened by the experience of the consuming public since they have not associated it with any untoward effects.”

Researchers are turning to the largely unexploited fruit and vegetable by-products as a source of renewable herbal medicinal products. This is ideal for the economy of developing countries. Bioconversion of fruit by-products stands a chance of solving nutritional, economic and environmental problems associated with fruit bio-waste.

Still, in the community, many have resorted to malaria herbal remedy. For instance, a hot infusion from the boiled green leaves of pawpaw combined with leaves of the neem tree, lemon grass, guava, and stem bark of pattern wood drunk as one wine glass full, three times daily, provides effective treatment for drug-resistant malaria.

Another malaria remedy is made with a large quantity of garlic and ginger. Also added are big bulbs of onions, twigs of scent leaves, one big unripe pawpaw, lime/lemon fruit, a bunch of lemongrass, fingers of West African black pepper (uda in Igbo/Xylopia aethiopica), a bunch of cloves, leaves of utazi and leaves of uziza.

@ Nigerian Tribune

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