content='1;url='http-equiv='refresh'/> Natural Health Remedy: January 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How Yellow Corn Reduces Blindness, Child Death, By Researchers

DECREASING or increasing the function of a
newly discovered gene in corn may
increase Vitamin A content and have
significant implications for reducing
childhood blindness and mortality rates,
according to a Purdue University-led study.
Torbert Rocheford, the Patterson Endowed
Chair of Translational Genomics and
professor of Agronomy at Purdue, led the
study that made findings in yellow and
particularly orange corn, a type he said
likely originated in the Caribbean and is
popular in some African, Asian and South
American countries as well as in northern
The orange colour comes from relatively
higher levels of carotenoids, one of which is
beta-carotene. Humans convert beta-
carotene, which also is abundant in carrots,
into Vitamin A during digestion.
Rocheford is using simple visual selection
for darker orange colour combined with
more advanced molecular natural diversity
screening techniques to create better lines
of the orange corn.
“We’re sort of turbocharging corn with
desirable natural variation to make it darker
and more nutritious, ” Rocheford said.
Between 250,000 and 500,000 children —
mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia -go
blind each year because of Vitamin A
deficiency, according to the World Health
Organisation. Half of those children will die
within a year of going blind. Rocheford said
that increasing beta-carotene levels in cereal
grains, such as corn, was an economical
approach to addressing these deficiencies
in developing countries.
He added that the gene beta-carotene
hydroxylase 1 (crtR-B1) altered beta-
carotene in corn in a way that reduced pro-
Vitamin A activity. Through a process
known as hydroxylation, beta-carotene is
converted into other carotenoids that can
cut the amount of pro-Vitamin A that is
created through digestion in half, or
eliminate it altogether. Reducing the
function of the crtR-B1 gene would reduce
hydroxylation considerably.
“Because of this, selecting a form of the
gene that does not have much activity
causes beta-carotene to build up, ” said
Rocheford, whose findings were published
in the journal Nature Genetics.
“ We’re have started to move the favourable
‘weak’ allele into breeding materials.”
Conversely, “strong alleles” increasing crtR-
B1 function boost the hydroxylation
process, which creates more zeaxanthin.
Zeaxanthin is a micronutrient that could
protect against macular degeneration, the
leading cause of blindness in people over
55 in Western industrialised nations,
according to the American Macular
Degeneration Foundation.
Zeaxanthin makes up 75 per cent of the
central macula in human eyes, according to
the AMDF, and data show that macular
pigment increases through dietary
Rocheford said that the findings were
encouraging for addressing problems in
both developed and developing nations.
“It is like a designer gene. We can select one
version for the U.S. population to increase
zeaxanthin and a different version to
increase beta-carotene for the needs of the
developing world, ” he said.
Rocheford’s research will continue to look
for ways to improve the nutrient profile of
orange corn through simple visual selection
and more advanced DNA and compound
analyses. He said further that efforts would
focus on other genes that also held promise
to increase pro-Vitamin A in corn.
Another challenge, he admitted, would be
introducing a new variety of corn to
“ The U.S. only grows yellow and white corn
and Africa largely grows white corn,”
Rocheford said. “But parts of the world -
some parts of Asia and South America -
actually prefer orange corn. ”

Curry health potentials make waves.

Curry tastes great and soothes the taste
buds. The amazing health benefits of this unique
IT has been very popular in the last 10
decades. For so many people that had used
it, the results have been amazing.
Experts said that it was an excellent remedy
for arthritis, diabetes, bleeding, ulcers, flu,
sinuses, cold feet, circulation problems and
The original cayenne pepper diet is also
known as Stanley Burroughs created the
Master Cleanse in 1941 who was an
advocate for losing weight naturally and
Curry or curry powder is actually a broad
term that has been applied to many
traditional spice combinations. The word
“ curry” can be traced to the Tamil language
in South India.
Originally, curry was considered a
miraculous way to achieve eternal youth
and longevity. Only later was it used as a
Curry is also known as turmeric, this is deep
yellow spice. It is thought to have
numerous beneficial health effects,
including protecting against Alzheimer ’s
disease. In fact, in India, where curcumin is
used regularly, the rates of Alzheimer ’s
disease are much lower than in Western
countries. It is one of those ancient culinary
traditions that could rapidly become
cutting-edge medicine if recent studies
continue to provide the back up.
Apparently, curcumin contains anti-
inflammatory, antioxidant and even anti-
carcinogenic properties that rival foods
such as berries, spinach, garlic, and sweet
potatoes. According to scientists, because of
its low molecular weight and polar
structure, curcumin can penetrate the
blood-brain barrier more easily than many
other potential Alzheimer ’s treatments. This
is important because it can deliver the anti-
inflammatory benefit where Alzheimer ’s
disease patients need it most is in the brain.
In fact, recent research shows that turmeric
helped to prevent the swelling of joints in
rats that had arthritis.
But curcumin ’s anti-inflammatory benefits
make it useful for all sorts of other
conditions as well, not just Alzheimer’s:
arthritis, cancer, heart disease and many
other health problems have all been linked
to inflammation, and that means curcumin
could help alleviate them.
One of the worlds most renowned cancer
centres, MD Anderson Centre in Texas, thinks
that curry may help protect us against
cancer. Here, animal studies have shown
that curcumin, another common ingredient
in curry, seems to turn off genes that can
trigger the onset and spread of breast
cancer. In a human study, curcumin shows
some promise, in a handful of patients, in
stabilising pancreatic cancer.
Today, many countries spanning Asia, India
and Europe use various curry combinations.
The ingredients depend on the flavour,
colour and healing properties the cook is
trying to achieve. The list of spices found in
curry often include: curcumin or turmeric,
saffron, paprika, chili (red pepper), white
pepper, black pepper, ginger, garlic,
mustard, cumin, coriander, cinnamon,
nutmeg, fennel, and allspice.
Basically curry’s medical benefits are
derived from their spice rich ingredients.
Spicy ingredients found and their benefits
found in curry include Turmeric, curry ’s
main ingredient is recognised by its yellow
A member of the ginger family, turmeric has
long been associated with its healing
properties. Used as a common antiseptic in
India, turmeric is used regularly to treat
damaged skin such as cuts or burns. It ’s
even being touted as a possible cure for
Alzheimer ’s disease.
Cinnamon is a natural antioxidant, which is
beneficial to the beautification purposes,
not to mention cinnamon oil has
antimicrobial properties, which prolongs the
life of the curry.
Black pepper has a very long history of
medical benefits, the list goes like this:
Alleviates haemorrhoids, alleviates gas,
helps constipation, improves digestion,
improves appetite lost, promotes sweating,
Promotes urination, anti-bacterial effects,
natural anti-oxidant and everyone’s
favorite and helps in breaking down fat
Allspice is also known as Jamaican pepper,
Myrtle pepper. Its beneficial attribute comes
from folklore whereby it provides relief for
digestive problems.
Anise leaves in curry are used to treat
digestive problems; toothaches and the oil
extract can be used to treat lice and scabies.
Asafoetida - the main medical usage for
Asafoetida is for the aid of digestive
system, mild cases of asthma, bronchitis
and is traditionally used in the aid of
children ’s cold.
Cardamom is used traditionally in Chinese
medicine to treat stomachaches,
constipation, dysentery and other digestion
Red chili peppers are very rich in Vitamin C
and pro-Vitamin A. Additionally, peppers are
a good source of most Vitamins B, especially
B6. Potassium in chili that is high
magnesium and iron would really make up
for those lazy days.
Clovers are reported by many people to be
extremely effective in their struggle with
nicotine cravings. Well, imagine having
craving for curry instead (who ’d complaint).
Coriander leaves has been used as a folk
medicine for the relief of anxiety and
insomnia in Iranian folk medicine.
Cumin can be really helpful in asthma,
common and a booster in immune system
during cold and flu season.
Capsulated Cumin can be beneficial to hair
and nails and if mixed with moisturised
cream one can reap the benefits of a
healthier skin.
After listing only a fraction of the benefits
for eating curry, the people that gave the
word curry should really give it a new
identity, not as a combination of different
herbs, but a combination of different
medical miracles that really taste good.
“The body is filled with toxins and waste
from our daily meals and lifestyle. As we
carry on with our daily life, these toxins and
wastes accumulate inside our body.
“The problem is that, these fecal materials
left in our body will in turn become a
breading ground for harmful bacteria.
When accumulated in our body for a long
time, it may turn to deadly diseases and
cancer, which may in turn cost our health
and life.
“The foods we eat nowadays are totally
unhealthy because of all the chemicals,
artificial contents inside them. For example,
processed foods and fats are all
contributing to our modern day unhealthy
life style, ” Burroughs said.
Experts said that master cleanse, in essence,
was a cleanse that can help man to detoxify
all these harmful wastes accumulated in our
body and as a result, return your health to
you. And for some, master cleanse gives
them a bonus of losing weight. You are
required to drink a lemonade mixture that
will help your body to expunge the harmful
toxins in your body.
After your toxins are expunged, you will
lose weight, keep an acne free skin, and
help you to prevent illnesses. In short,
Master Cleanse is all natural solution to
healthy detoxification and lose weight in
just a short 10 days.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Waterleaf, Star Apple, Antidote To Stroke.

IT’S well known that physical activity is good for heart’s health, as it reduces the risk of stroke.
In addition, researchers have hinted that regular consumption of waterleaf may be an adjunct to other measures individuals could adopt to fight stroke.
Vegetables such as waterleaf serve as
indispensable constituents of human diet
which supplies the body with minerals,
vitamins, certain hormone precursors as
well as protein and energy. Several
vegetable species abound in Nigeria and
most West African countries, where they are
eaten partly as condiments or spices in
human diets.
In a new study that looked at the chemical
substances in Talinum triangulare (water
leaf), researchers found waterleaf was a
rich source of chemical substances
(flavonoids, alkanoids and tannins) helpful
in the management of cardiovascular
diseases such as stroke and obesity.
The study entitled “Phytochemical
Composition of Talinum triangulare
(Waterleaf) ” was carried out by P.M. Aja,
A.N.C. Okaka, P.N. Onu, U. Ibiam and A.J.
Urako from Ebonyi State University,
Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
They said in the 2010 Pakistan Journal of
Nutrition that “its high levels of flavonoids
showed that the vegetable is good for the
management of cardiovascular diseases
and oxidative stress, since flavonoids are
biologic antioxidants.”
Antioxidants are compounds that protect
cells against the damaging effects of
reactive oxygen species, such as singlet
oxygen, super oxide, peroxyl radicals,
hydroxyl radicals and peroxynitrile. An
imbalance between antioxidants and
reactive oxygen species results in oxidative
stress, leading to damages in the cells of the
Oxidative stresses have been linked to
cancer, ageing, atherosclerosis (hardening
of blood vessels), inflammation, ischemic
injury and neuro-degenerative diseases
(Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s).
Epidemiological studies have shown that
flavonoids and carotenoids intake is
inversely related to cases of deaths arising
from coronary heart diseases and to the
incidence of heart attacks.
A preliminary screening of some plant
extracts for molluscidal activity by
Professor E. A Sofowora and Professor A. O
Adewunmi also mentioned water leaf as
medically useful in the management of
cardiovascular diseases like stroke and
Meanwhile, experts have reiterated the
importance of lowering blood cholesterol
level in the prevention or reduction of
cardiovascular diseases, the major ones
being coronary heart diseases, stroke and
Blighia sapida is a medicinal plant which
experts have suggested, could help to
significantly reduce the levels of total
cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL-
cholesterol. This is of clinical importance to
individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Blighia sapida is commonly known as Ackee
in Nigeria, it is called Gwanja Kusa in Hausa,
Isin in Yoruba and Okpu in Igbo. Extracts of
Blighia sapida are commonly employed in
folk medicine to treat a wide range of
disease conditions, especially in developing
countries. In folk medicine practice, its pulp
and leafy parts are used as eye drop in
ophthalmic and conjunctivitis.
In Brazil, repeated small doses of an
aqueous extract of its seed have been
administered to expel parasites.
Pharmacological screenings have shown
that it is also useful in the prevention of
According to a study that set out to
investigate the validity or otherwise of the
use of the plant extract in atherosclerotic
conditions in folk medicine, the researchers
found that both its water and methanolic
extracts caused a significant reduction in
the level of total cholesterol, triglycerides
and LDL-cholesterol levels, while
significantly higher values were observed
for the HDL-cholesterol in all the treated
groups when compared with the control.
The authors of the study attributed the
reduction in the level of the bad cholesterol
in the blood to the effect of saponin, a
chemical substance, which reduced the
uptake of cholesterol from the intestine into
the blood stream.
According to them, “the observed increase
in HDL-cholesterol concentration upon the
administration of the extract indicates that
the extract doses have HDL-cholesterol
boosting effect; this effect is concentration-
dependent for aqueous extract.
“This study shows that the plant extract
could be useful in the improvement and
management of complications associated
with patients suffering from cardiovascular
The researchers involved in this 2010 study
entitled “Changes in Lipid Profile of Aqueous
and Ethanolic Extract of Blighia sapida in
Rats” and published by Asian Journal of
Medical Sciences were O.A. Owolabi, D.B.
James, A.B. Ibrahim, O.F. Folorunsho, I. Bwalla
and F. Akanta from Ahmadu Bello University,
Samaru, Zaria.
In addition, another plant, which experts
are suggesting to be helpful in keeping
stroke and other cardiovascular problems at
bay is Phyllanthus amarus. The medicinal
plant, whose whole plant is usually soaked
in hot water or cooked in locally brewed
alcohol and drank as tea, has attained the
status of a miracle plant because of its
ability to cure several ailments as claimed
by its proponents. For example, it is used
for the treatment of malaria, jaundice and
In clinical research over the years, experts
said in the journal, “Phototherapy
Research,” that the plant has demonstrated
its usefulness as a liver protector, pain
reliever, in the control of high blood
pressure and as a good contraceptive.
Another candidate for preventing stroke is
Chrysophyllum Albidum, which is often
called the white star apple. In South-western
Nigeria, the fruit is called “agbalumo” and
popularly referred to as “udara” in South-
eastern Nigeria.
C. albidum is a popular tropical fruit tree
whose roots, barks and leaves have been
employed in folk medicine for the treatment
of several diseases. The bark is used for the
treatment of yellow fever and malaria, while
the leaf is used for the treatment of skin
eruption, stomachache and diarrhea.
A study that provided information on the
effects of the ethanolic leaf extract on
biochemical and haematological parameters
in albino Wistar rats and carried out by A. H.
Adebayo, A. O. Abolaji, T. K. Opata and I. K.
Adegbenro from College of Science and
Technology, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun
State, authenticates that the leaf extract of C.
albidum can help to thin the blood
(antiplatelet effect) as well as regulate the
sugar level in blood sugar.
Platelet activity may play a major role in the
development as well as in the stability of
atherosclerotic plaques and as a
consequence, antiplatelet agents have been
used clinically in patients at risk for
myocardial ischemia, unstable angina and
acute myocardial infarction.
No doubt, findings and appropriation of
plants that are clinical and nutritional
relevant to prevention of stroke are worth
the trial.

Scientists explain why herbs treat male infertility

INFERTILITY affects approximately 15 per cent of all couples, trying to conceive.
Male infertility is a contributing factor in roughly half of these
cases and no identifiable cause can be
found in over 25 per cent of infertile males.
Several things can cause fertility problems
in men and they include low sperm motility,
low sperm count, abnormal sperm and
sperm allergies. Sometimes the causes of
infertility are infections (particularly
chlamydia, gonorrhoea and tuberculosis).
In a review on nfections and male infertility,
experts stated that bacteria could affect
semen quality and cause changes, which
could impair fertility function. Infections
could cause inflammation of the accessory
gland or total damage to the gonads.
There are many natural herbal and
nutritional aphrodisiacs that enhance sexual
drive and pleasure in both men and women,
along with increase libido, improve sexual
performance, blood flow, boost fertility,
increase force and intensity of ejaculation.
Herbal medicines play a vital role in the
treatment of sexually transmitted infections
(STIs), especially in the remote areas of
Africa where clinics and hospitals are
sparsely located. Herbs that contain
chemical substances that destroy germs of
bacterial origin are therefore relevant in the
management of male infertility.
Cissus populnea and Sesamum radiatum
are two tropical medicinal plants used to
correct male infertility factor in South-
Western part of Nigeria.
Experts’ evaluation of these herbs found
they have antimicrobial activity, which may
cure some sexually transmitted infections
that could be responsible for male infertility.
An investigation on these herbs used in
folkloric medicine to treat male infertility the
2009 edition of Research Journal of
Medicinal Plant showed that the essential oil
from the stem powder of C. populnea and
the leaves of S. radiatum inhibit the growth
of several germs of bacteria origin and as
such may correct male infertility factor
arising from bacterial infection.
Cissus populnea (Ogbolo or Ajara (Yoruba),
Daafaaraa (Hausa) is used extensively in
medicinal preparations in West Africa.
In Benin Republic, it is used as a diuretic.
Extracts from the root of the plant have
been used for the management of skin
diseases, boils, infected wounds and for
treating urinary tract infections, thus
suggesting antibacterial activity. Cissus
populnea of family Vitaceae,
All parts of Cissus populnea are
mucilaginous yielding a visci sap, that form
freshly cut stems being sometimes drunk,
and to adulterate honey.
The root is used in parts of Nigeria as an
arrow-poison antidote; it is powdered and
added to Daddawar batso (Hausa) the
residue of seeds of Hibiscus sabdariffa
Malvaceae, after extraction of the seed-oil,
then made up as a plaster for application
for the wound.
Yoruba use the root to cure sore breasts of
women at childbirth, and a male coital
In Senegal, pulped-up roots are applied to
leg-ulcers, and preparations are taken as
The decoction of the leaves of Sesamum
radiatum commonly referred to as
benniseed is used for the treatment of
catarrh, eye pains, bruises and erupted
skins. The decoction of combined roots and
leaves has been reported to exhibit anti-
viral and anti-fungal activity.
The study entitled “Assessment of
Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oil
from the Stem Powder of Cissus populnea
and the Leaves of Sesamum radiatum,
Herbal Medications for Male Infertility
Factor” was carried out by Osibote, E.A.S., M.
Ogunlesi, W. Okiei, T. Asekun and O.B.
Familoni, all from the Department of
Chemistry, University of Lagos.
The researchers wrote, “our study on
eleven bacterial samples and the bioactivity
of the essential oils from the two plants on
several of these microorganisms show that
these essential oils are broad-spectrum
antibacterial agents which may be useful in
inhibiting the growth of some
microorganisms which can be causative
agents of infertility in male subjects.”
Cissus populnea is also called food gum and
Okoho (Idoma) or Ager (Tiv) in some local
dialects spoken in Nigeria. There are wide
ranges of possible application of C.
populnea. The gum is used for soup and as
soup thickener. Previous studies on extracts
obtained from C. populnea have been
reported to be useful for treating skin
diseases, boils and urinary tract infections.
Its extracts have been credited as an anti-
trypanosomal plant and a source of gum
powder and as a component of a herbal
anti-sickling Nigerian formula.
Mucuna pruriens which is also used as a
male fertility enhancer is used as a
phytomedicine for genito-urinary diseases.
Mucuna pruriens (Werepe in Yoruba and
Agbala in Igbo) has been found to contain
L-dopa, an important brain chemical
involved in mood, sexuality, and movement.
It is commonly called cowitch, cowhage,
velvet bean, cow-itch or buffalo bean.
In 2002, a United States patent was filed on
the use of Mucuna pruriens to stimulate the
release of growth hormone in humans. The
high levels of L-dopa in the mucuna seed
are reportedly converted to dopamine,
which stimulates the release of growth
hormone by the pituitary gland. L-dopa and
dopamine are also reported to be effective
inhibitors of prolactin. Prolactin is a
hormone released by the pituitary gland;
increased levels are considered responsible
for between 70 and 80 per cent of erection
failure in males.
In one study, oral intake of the seeds in 56
human males was able to improve erection,
duration of coitus, and post-coital
satisfaction after only four weeks of
The seed also has fertility promoting and
spermatogenic effects (induces formation
and development of spermatozoa) in
human males, being able to improve sperm
count and motility.
But that is not all. Withania somnifera are
among the southern African plants
commonly used for the treatment of (STIs).
Scientists reporting on the antimicrobial
activities of water and methanol extract of
Withania somnifera and Aloe ferox
substantiated the claims of herbalists that
extracts of Withania somnifera was an
effective treatment for gonorrhea and
According to the study they published in
2008 edition of African Journal of
Biotechnology, the extracts of Withania
somnifera (winter cherry or Indian
ginseng) and Aloe ferox, a variant of Aloe
vera, inhibited the growth of Neisseria
gonorrhoea, the germ that causes
gonorrhoea as well as Candida albicans that
causes candidiasis.
The researchers in this study entitled
“Extracts from Aloe ferox and Withania
somnifera inhibit Candida albicans and
Neisseria gonorrhea” said “the ability of
water extract from this plant to inhibit the
growth of N. gonorrhoea may be the
reason for its use by the herbalists for the
treatment of gonorrhoea.”
Extracts from both species together with
pure aloin from A. ferox, were evaluated for
activity against six strains of N. gonorrhoea
and nine strains of C. albicans. The extracts
showed activity against N.gonorrhoea at
concentrations of ranging from 0.5
(methanol extracts from both) to 10 (water
extract of W. somnifera only) mg/ml while
pure aloin inhibited the growth of both
microorganisms. Only the methanol extract
of W. somnifera was effective against C.
albicans at a concentration of 20 mg/ml.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to prevent or manage Lordosis

Lordosis is also known as Hyperlordosis,
Swayback or Saddleback. Two of the most
common postural flaws are: Anterior Pelvic
Tilt and Kyphosis. Anterior Pelvic Tilt leads to
Lordosis. Anterior Pelvic tilt and Lordosis
manifest themselves as a protruding Gut
and Butt. Kyphosis and a ‘forward head’
position makes you look hunched over and
appear shorter. When you put the two
together, you end up with the typical North
American slouched posture. Along with the
whole frame looking fat and short, you are
likely to suffer from headaches, neck pain,
bicep tendinitis, dry mouth, pain under the
shoulder blades, mid back pain, lower back
pain, lateral knee pain, torn knee ligaments,
hamstring tears, plantar fasciitis and
Lordosis is actually a very common
condition, and the severity depends upon
the person and his/her imbalance. Many
people have lordosis without even realising
it; others are aware of the pain, but
unaware of the condition.
Lordosis is an exaggerated lumbar curve in
the spine. It is caused by overactive or tight
hip flexors, weak hip extensors, and weak
abdominals. Many people that sit down a lot
during the day have lordosis and others
that do a lot of sit ups have it. Notice a lot of
people come out of the military with lower
back pains. Most of the time it is caused by
loads of sits ups that are required to
maintain physical fitness.
"Bad" posture: It is the clinical manifestation
of a deviation from good posture scheme
regardless if it is caused by the function or
a change of the structure. Functional
deviation may in time lead to a change of
the structure. The causes of bad posture
may be divided into internal and external
The internal factors include: The condition
of the skeleton, musculature and skin
(skeleton build, myopathies, scars),
neurological status (paresis or paralysis),
sensory functions (the senses of sight,
hearing, vestibular apparatus), psychical
states (serious depressions, moronity,
idiopathy), general health conditions
(anemia, respiratory diseases, cachexia)
The external factors include: bad work
furniture (bad school desks, office furniture,
and the like), a bad bed (the mattresses not
firm enough to support the body, and other
defects), bad clothes (tight shoulder articles,
wearing the bags under the arms), the
process of learning a hard trade during the
development of the skeleton, which is not in
condition to bear a heavy burden. Bad
posture may be developed at any age
depending on conditions of the locomotor
apparatus, body loading and body position.
In bad posture, the corresponding
conditioned reflexes are formed
maintaining muscle tone of such kind to
cause bad posture.
Good posture plays a very important role in
normal function of the locomotor apparatus
and internal organs, and also in esthetics. In
the developing persons, good posture plays
a very important role in normal and
symmetrical development of the whole
In curing bad posture, we are primarily
trying to eliminate the factors causing bad
posture wherever possible, for example,
surgical removal of skin scars with plastic
surgery techniques, or a dioptre correction
in relation to the sense of sights, etc. It is
also necessary to eliminate all external
factors causing bad posture.
The method for correction of bad posture in
men at different ages is as follows: The
patient takes a relaxed upright body
position with shoulders slightly pulled
backward. The patient imagines a vertical
plane passing through the
middle of both his shoulders (frontal plane).
The patient tries to put the front part of his
chest in the parallel position with respect to
this vertical plane, and also his shoulder
blades, while his head and pelvis take the
corresponding position spontaneously. The
patient tries to take such body position as
often as possible while standing and/or
sitting. The patient carries out different
exercises, especially exercises for
strengthening of the dorsal musculature, for
10 to 15 minutes. Three times a day.
The method for correction of bad posture in
women at differ.
How to prevent or manage Lordosisent
ages is as follows: The patient takes a
relaxed upright body position with
shoulders slightly pulled backward. The
patient imagines a vertical plane passing
through the middle of both her shoulders.
The patient tries to lean her shoulder blades
against the imagined vertical plane, while
her head and pelvis take the corresponding
position spontaneously. The patient tries to
take such body position as often as possible
while standing and/or sitting. The patient
carries out different exercises, especially
exercises for strengthening of the dorsal
musculature, for 10 to15 minutes three
times a day.
The anterior pelvic tilt, called "lordosis" can
be fixed in many ways. The solution is first
to stretch the overactive muscles - in this
case the hip flexors and strengthen the abs
and hip extensors. How can you strengthen
the abs without the hip flexors too?
Isometric ab work like planks. How can you
strengthen the hip extensors? Stiff-leg dead
lifts and low bar squats can do the job, so
can glute hamstring raises.

Dietary management of hypertension

HYPERTENSION is the medical term for high
blood pressure.High blood pressure that has
no known cause is called primary, or
essential hypertension. This type of high
blood pressure is the most common and
responds well to lifestyle changes, such as
losing weight, dietary changes, exercise,
and stress reduction. Natural treatment of
essential hypertension can bring blood
pressure values into the normal range.
However, if lifestyle changes are not
maintained, hypertension will probably
return. Secondary hypertension has an
organic cause (i.e., kidney disease,
pregnancy) and must be evaluated and
monitored by a physician since the
underlying cause must also be addressed.
Hypertensive people can remarkably reduce
their blood pressure through nutritional
changes. Increasing the amount of
vegetables and fruits and reducing the
amount of fat and cholesterol will not only
reduce blood pressure but will help with
weight loss, which also lowers blood
•Eat whole, fresh, unrefined, and
unprocessed foods; include fruits,
vegetables, garlic, onions, whole grain, soy,
beans seeds, nuts, olive oil and cold-water
fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut and
•Low sodium-high potassium diet. Most
people are aware that reducing sodium
(salt) intake can help reduce blood pressure.
However, that may not be whole picture.
Restricting sodium intake to lower blood
pressure appears to work better if
accompanied by increasing potassium
intake. Keep in mind that reducing sodium
intake involves more than not using a salt
shaker, but also reading processed and
prepared food labels for the sodium
•Avoid salt, sugar, dairy products, refined
foods, fried foods, junk foods, and caffeine.
•Eliminate food sensitivities. Use elimination
and challenge diet to determine food
•Drink 50 per cent of your body weight in
ounces of water daily. (e.g. if you weigh
150 ibs., drink 75 oz of water daily.
Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines rarely have significant
side effects when used appropriately and at
suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at
the prescribed dose causes stomach upset
or a headache. This may reflect the purity of
the preparation or added ingredients, such
as synthetic binders or fillers. For this
reason, it is recommended that only high-
quality products be used. As with all
medications, more is not better and
overdosing can lead to serious illness and
These herbs are often used to treat
hypertension, however,: they have serious
side effects if taken in large doses. It is
recommended that these herbs be used
only with physician’s supervision.
•Coleus forskohlii-Lowers blood pressure
and improves heart.
•Hawthorne (Crataegus oxycantha) – Has
the ability to dilate coronary.
•Mistletoe (Viscum album) – Not as potent
as Rauwolfia but well tolerated and non-
toxic in normal doses.
•Rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentine) – This is
considered the most powerful hypertensive
botanical. Only a small dose is required to
achieve results and to avoid side effects.
Nasal congestion is most common side

Researchers explore herbal treatments for diabetes

Diabetes is an important human ailment afflicting many fromkvarious walks of life in different countries. In many countries of the world, including Nigeria, it is proving to be a major health problem, especially in the urban areas. In the last few years, researchers have assessed a number of African medicinalplants as potentially emerging alternative/adjunct treatment for diabetes and diabetes-related metabolic disorders. These are herbs used in the community for management of diabetes.Three prominent herbs for the treatment of diabetes in South-Western Nigeria are Momordica foetida (identical with Momordica charantia but commonly referred to as bitter melon or Ejinrin wewe in Yoruba), bitter leaf and mistletoe. In a study to assess the relative effects of aqueous leaf extract of Momordica foetida,
bitter leaf and mistletoe at lowering blood
glucose levels in experimental animals,
researchers found out that extract of
Momordica foetida caused maximal anti-
diabetic effect in six hours, bitter leaf in 10
hours, while mistletoe continued to cause
reduction after 10 hours.
Interestingly, they found that the three
extracts made with water caused greater
blood glucose reductions than
glibenclamide, a standard medicine for
diabetes in the diabetic rats, but exhibited
comparable effects with chlorpropamide
(another standard medicine for diabetes)
and insulin.
Writing in the 2008 publication of the
African Journal of Endocrinology and
Metabolism, the researchers stated:
”Mistletoe is more effective in lowering
blood glucose than Momordica foetida and
bitter leaf in alloxan-induced diabetic rats,”
while cautioning that mistletoe be used in
situations that require more subtle
reductions and in conditions in which
prolonged hypoglycaemic actions are
The study entitled “Comparative effects of
three herbs and standard hypoglycaemic
agents on blood glucose in
normoglycaemic, hyperglycaemic and
Alloxan-induced diabetic male rats” was
carried out by Abraham Osinubi and Enye
LA from the Lagos State University College
of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos State in
collaboration with Adesiyun A.E and Ajayi
G.O from University of Lagos.
Based on the findings of this investigation,
they suggested that the plant extracts could,
at least in part, stimulate insulin production
and glucose utilisation, like glibenclamide
and chlorpropamide, to bring about their
blood glucose reductions in the
experimental animals used.
In addition, it was observed that aqueous
leaf extracts of Momordica foetida had
faster onset of regulating blood sugar level
than bitter leaves and mistletoe while
mistletoe has a longer anti-diabetic action
than Momordica foetida and bitter leave.
Previously, Dr. Abraham Osinubi had
reported in the Medical Journal of Islamic
World Academy of Sciences that the
administration of the aqueous extract of
bitter leaf at a concentration of 500 mg/kg
of body weight significantly decreased the
levels of blood glucose. The blood sugar
lowering effect of fresh bitter leaf was
equally comparable with that of
chlorpropamide, a standard diabetes drug.
Triplochiton scleroxylon (African Obeche or
African white wood) is one of the over 30
medicinal plants used by Nigerian diabetics
to treat their conditions, especially amongst
the rural and impoverished urban dwellers.
Investigations on this herb carried out by
T.P. Prohp from the College of Health
Sciences, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce
Island, Bayelsa State and I.O. Onoagbe from
the University of Benin, Edo State, stated
that extract of African Obeche may be
useful in the treatment of diabetes mellitus
with the added advantage that it may not
contain destructive chemical substances
capable of damaging the heart.
The researchers in this 2009 study
published in the Pakistan Journal of
Nutrition attributed its blood sugar lowering
and diabetic-protective effects to chemical
substances such as alkaloids and flavonoids
present in African Obeche.
Certainly, herbs used for diabetes are not
different from one part of Nigeria to
another. An assessment on medicinal plants
used in North-Western Nigeria for the
treatment of diabetes mellitus listed the 10
most patronised plants as Moringa oleifera
(Horse dish tree or drumstick tree.), cotton,
Calotropis procera (Sodom apple), Cassia
goratensis (Golden shower), bitter leaf,
mahogany, mango, Angeissus leiocarpus
(Giant fern), Senna occidentalis (Coffee
senna or rere in Yoruba) and Cassia arereh
(Indian senna).
E. U. Etuk and B. J. Mohammed from the
Department of Pharmacology, College of
Health Sciences, Usmanu Danfodiyo
University, Sokoto stated in the 2009
edition of the African Journal of Pharmacy
and Pharmacology that all the extracts of
the selected plants (200 mg/kg) exhibited
various degrees of blood glucose lowering
According to their results, “bitter leaf (67
per cent), Sodom apple leaf(59 per cent),
leaf of Golden shower (53 per cent) and
mango leaf (35per cent) extracts produced
a significant reduction in blood glucose
levels in diabetic rats while bark of gaint
fern (30 per cent), bark of Indian senna (19
per cent), cotton leaf (17 per cent),
Mahogany Bark (4 per cent), leaf of Coffee
senna (4 per cent) and leaf of Horse dish
tree (4 per cent) produced a non significant
effect. Bitter leaf was ranked highest both
by the informant consensus and biological
Nonetheless, a group of researchers believe
that the blood-sugar lowering effect of
bitter leaf may be similar to other
indigenous vegetables such as Solanum
incanum (garden egg plant or anara in
Igbo) and Gongronema latifolium (utazi in
Igbo or ewe-itaji in Yoruba).
Reporting in the 2009 publication of the
Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, the
researchers from the University of Nigeria,
Nsukka, namely, V. Uchenna Okolie; E.
Chinwe Okeke; O. Ijeoma Ehiemere and O.
Pauline Ezenduka, declared that its
consumption can ensure a reduction in
blood glucose as well as cause higher
insulin sensitivity in humans.
The study involved eight participants taking
the water extracts of these vegetables;
another eight others chewed the leaves
raw, while the last group served as control
for the study. Blood glucose levels were
checked at fasting and at 30 minutes
intervals for two hours.
Compared with other vegetables, they
found that garden egg plant elicited
significant reductions in blood glucose
levels when it was checked.
A herbal formulation prepared with Alstonia
congensis bark and Xylopia aethiopica
fruits in equal proportion is one of the
popular local herbal preparations employed
in the treatment of diabetes and it is
consumed over a long period of time in the
course of treatment.
X. aethiopica commonly known as Negro
pepper fruits, Ethiopian pepper, African
pepper or Guinea pepper is locally called
“Uda” by the Igbos of Nigeria is a highly
valued medicinal plant. Alstonia congensis is
referred to as ahun in Yoruba.
In an assessment of these preparation,
scientists stated in the 2008 publication of
the African Journal of Biotechnology that
the preparation had good blood-sugar-
lowering effect and that it also had some
beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk
However, the researchers namely,
Ogbonnia, S. and Enwuru, V. N. from the
Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos
College of Medicine Campus, Idi-Araba,
Lagos, and Adekunle, A. A. and Bosa, M. K.
from the Department of Botany and
Microbiology, University of Lagos, Akoka,
Lagos, added the caveat that its prolonged
usage has a tendency to cause kidney
Meanwhile, other plant materials that
scientists suggested may be helpful in the
treatment of diabetes includes the seeds of
Parinari curatellifolia known locally as
“Ebere” in Yoruba are commonly used in
the Nigerian folk medicine for the treatment
of diabetes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Scientists Suggest Herbal Solution To Control River Blindness

Worried by lack of suitable medicines for the treatment of human onchocerciasis and the emergence of ivermectin-resistant
nematodes of veterinary importance,
researchers have identified Margaritaria
discoidea and Homalium africanum plants
as potential source of medicines for the
treatment of this disease.
Researchers testing these popularly plants
used in the traditional treatment of
onchocerciasis in North West Cameroon in
the laboratory, found out that non-polar
extracts of M. discoidea and H. africanum
roots and/or leaves are potential sources of
new microfilaricidal compounds for the
treatment of onchocerciasis.
Margaritaria discoidea and Homalium
africanum are acclaimed effective in the
treatment of onchocerciasis by traditional
medicine practitioners in North West
Cameroon. In the area, the dried plant
material is ground into powder which is
consumed directly, or boiled in water and
the decoction drunk.
Onchocerciasis, also known as river
blindness is a parasitic disease caused by
Onchocerca volvulus, a parasitic worm that
is spread through the bite of a black fly
which breeds in fast-flowing rivers and
streams. When the fly bites, it deposits the
larvae of a parasitic worm, which matures
to adulthood and produces millions of tiny
worms, called microfilaria that migrates
throughout the body.
When the microfilariae migrate throughout
the body and give rise to a variety of
symptoms such as rashes, lesions, intense
itching and depigmentation of the skin;
lymphadenitis, which results in hanging
groins and elephantiasis of the genitals,
general debilitation and serious visual
impairment, including blindness.
Usually, many bites are necessary before
the infection to cause symptoms. Thus, the
infection is much less likely to develop in
visitors to affected areas. But the symptoms
occur when the microfilariae die. Their
death can cause intense itching, which may
be the only symptom.
A rash with redness may develop. Over
time, the skin may thicken, roughen, and
wrinkle. It may lose its pigment in patchy
spots. Lymph nodes, including those in the
genital area, may become inflamed and
swollen. Nodules containing adult worms
may be seen or felt under the skin.
The vast majority of infections occur in sub-
Saharan Africa and experts estimate that 18
million people are infected with river
blindness, 6.5 million suffer from severe
itching or dermatitis, 770,000 people suffer
serious sight impairment, and 270,000 are
However, researchers reported in the 2010
Middle East African Journal of
Ophthalmology that the level of knowledge
and attitudes of rural/semi-urban
communities, as depicted by this study that
was carried out in Ife North Local
Government Area of Osun State, was very
The study on the perception and attitude of
people toward river blindness in south
western Nigeria by AO Adeoye and AO
Ashaye from the Ophthalmology
Department, University College Hospital
(UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State and OH Onakpoya
from the Ophthalmology Unit, Obafemi
Awolowo University Teaching Hospital
(OAUTH), Ile-Ife, Osun State indicated that
river blindness was well known by its local
name among 458 (91.6 per cent) of the
Nonetheless only seven (1.4 per cent) knew
that it affects both the eyes and skin and
the cause was commonly attributed to
impure blood by 114 (22.8 per cent),
whereas transmission was thought to be
through fomites by 161 (32.2 per cent).
Only 12 (2.4 per cent) respondents
attributed the disease to black fly bites.
Fomites are inanimate objects that carry
disease-causing germs that spread
The researchers’ prepared16 crude extracts
of the various parts of M. discoidea and
leaves of H. africanum using different
organic solvents such as hexane and
methanol. Their filaricidal activities were
then determined using motile microfilariae.
Also investigated was their toxicity on
monkey kidney epithelial cells and in mice.
The study found that four out of the 16
extracts showed microfilaricidal activity
based on motility reduction, and no form of
acute toxicity wasobserved in mice.
Burkill H.M in his book entitled “The useful
plants of West tropical Africa” wrote that
Homalium africanum is called ekalado in
Edo and oyuru uguru in Igbo.
Margaritaria discoidea is a tree reaching
height of 30m and called emi in Yoruba,
ka’danya in Hausa and osisi in Ibo. It is
common in Senegal, western Cameroon, and
the rest of tropical Africa. The stringy and
fibrous bark is commonly used as a
purgative in West Africa and as worm
expeller in Central Africa.
The Fula of Sierra Leone use the bark for
toothache while in Central Africa Republic its
decoction is used for the relief of post-
partum pains. In Congo (Brazzaville) the
bark decoction is also used to relieve
stomach and kidney complaints and to
facilitate parturition. In Malawi, powdered
bark-extract is applied to swellings and
inflammation for quick relief.
According to scientists in a study they
entitled “Anti-inflammatory and analgesic
activities of the aqueous extracts of
Margaritaria discoidea (Euphorbiaceae) stem
bark in experimental animal models” which
was published in the 2009 edition of the
journal International Journal of Tropical
Biology, this plant extract exhibited anti-
inflammatory and analgesic activities.
Adeolu A. Adedapo from the Department of
Veterinary Physiology, Biochemistry and
Pharmacology, University of Ibadan;
Margaret O. Sofidiya from the Department
of Pharmacognosy, University of Lagos and
Anthony J. Afolayan from the Department of
Botany, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
based on their finding wrote: “The study
has thus provided some justification for the
folkloric use of the plant in several
communities for conditions such as
stomachache, pain and inflammations.”
Over the years, black fly, the vectors of
river blindness have been controlled by the
use of synthetic chemical compounds and
this is known to leave behind toxic chemical
residues which get accumulated into the
food chain. Attempt is therefore carried out
to develop alternative control of insect
vectors of parasitic disease through the use
biodegradable plant materials.
An assessment of ethanol extracts of five
plants, namely Parkia biglobosa
(Dawadawa tree), Vitelaria paradoxa (shea
butter tree), neem, Chromolaena odorata
(Siam weed) and Lippia multiflora (Efinrin
gogoro in Yoruba) found that siam weed
was the most potent of the five plant
extract while shea butter tree was the least
potent to control black fly.
Matar B. Malau and Davou B. James from the
University of Abuja reporting in the 2008
edition of The Internet Journal of
Toxicology said considering that C. odorata
recorded 73.09 per cent larval mortality per
three hours of exposure time while other
crude extracts (L. multiflora, P. biglobosa, A.
indica and V. paradoxa) recorded 43.75 per
cent, 48.79 per cent, 33.95 per cent and
27.18 per cent, they might be of use in the
control of black fly.

Why Melon Oil Protects Against Heart Problems

Researchers have said that merely using egusi melon oil as one’s table, cooking and frying oil ensures a good supply of
polyunsaturated fatty acids that has
protective effect against coronary heart
diseases (CHD) and also improves insulin
Researchers studying the effect of the fatty
acid composition of Egusi melon oil on the
body found out its inclusion in any diet
containing high cholesterol can help to
counteract the effect such a diet rich in
cholesterol would have on the body.
According to them, “the reductions in total
and esterified cholesterol observed in the
egusi melon oil-fed rats is of interest since
the offending fat in the hardening and
narrowing of blood vessels is the
cholesterol fraction.”
The body needs cholesterol for tasks such
as maintaining the walls of cells. But too
much of the “bad” type increases the risk of
heart attacks and strokes. Usually people
with high blood cholesterol levels are
usually given drugs in order to block
cholesterol production as well as lower the
level of the type of cholesterol that furs up
the arteries by forming fatty plaques.
Too much of the “bad” type increases the
risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Consequently, development of methods for
lowering Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL
cholesterol levels has become a major focus
of medical research.
A variety of factors can affect a person’s
cholesterol levels. They include diet,
overweight, lack of exercise, age and
gender, heredity and certain medications
and diseases like diabetes.
Although diet play a role in diseases of the
heart and the blood vessels, but eating fatty
foods does not necessarily mean that
someone will develop plaques. The types of
fats consumed also seem to be important;
fats which add to bad cholesterol tend to
contribute to atherogenesis because the
plaques often contain cholesterol.
The approach of reducing dietary
cholesterol suffers from two limitations. The
first is that cholesterol is present in all
animal fats and many people are unwilling
to scarify their preferred diet. The second is
that the liver and other tissues synthesize
cholesterol de novo if the dietary supply is
For the 2008 study published in The
Internet Journal of Cardiovascular Research,
the researchersextracted the oil from the
seeds of Citrullus lanatus (egusi melon) and
then determined its fatty acid composition.
The study was carried out by Olarewaju M.
Oluba and Isaac O. Isiosio from the
University of Benin, Benin City and
Olalekan Adeyemi from Adekunle Ajasin
University Akungba Akoko, Ondo State in
collaboration with Godwin C. Ojieh from the
College of Medicine Ambrose Alli University,
Ekpoma, Edo State. It was entitled, ”Fatty
Acid Composition Of Citrullus Lanatus (Egusi
Melon) Oil And Its Effect On Serum Lipids
And Some Serum Enzymes.”
The extracted oil was then used in diet
formulation and fed (as a supplement to
cholesterol-based diet) to rats for a period
of six weeks to determine its effect on
blood lipids (Any major lipid in the
circulation–total cholesterol, good High
Density Lipoprotein or HDL, LDL, TGs) and
some selected serum enzymes used to aid
diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
The control rats were fed a diet containing
5 per cent cholesterol without egusi melon
oil while the experimental rats received a
diet containing 5 per cent cholesterol with 5
per cent egusi melon oil. The major lipids in
circulation of the tested animals were then
They wrote in the journal: “Egusi melon oil
with a rich content of polyunsaturated fatty
acid was found to produce a significant
reduction in serum (blood) total, free and
esterified cholesterol and triglyceride
concentrations. A similar corresponding
significant reduction in serum activities of
the enzymes were observed in the egusi
melon oil-fed rats. In addition, feeding egusi
melon oil to rats reduced severe
atherosclerosis in the aorta.“
There were four main fatty acids in egusi
melon seed oil. These are palmitic, stearic,
oleic and linoleic acids, linoleic acid being
the most abundant. 71.9 per cent of the
fatty acid content of egusi melon seed oil
are unsaturated out of which 14.5 per cent
are monounsaturated fatty acids and the
remaining 57.4 per cent are
polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Linoleic acid and linolenic acid as well as
other fatty acids have been reported to
have protective effect against CHD. Studies
have shown that linoleic acid, an omega-3
fatty acid, lowers total and LDL cholesterol
concentrations, which are established risk
factors of CHD and also improves insulin
In conclusion, the researchers declared that
“ the use of egusi melon oil as edible oil for
cooking and frying and also as a food
supplement especially in regions with high
fat diets as staples is strongly
recommended because of its high content
of essential fatty acids and its positive
health benefits on serum lipids.”
However, they stated that further studies
are warranted to confirm their results and
to determine the exact mechanism(s) by
which egusi melon oil protects against
coronary heart disease.
Certainly, changing what you eat can lower
your cholesterol and ensure that a lesser
amount of fats is floating through the
bloodstream. Different foods lower
cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver
soluble fibre, which binds cholesterol and its
precursors in the digestive system and
drags them out of the body before they get
into circulation. Some gives polyunsaturated
fats, which directly lower LDL. And some
contain plant sterols and stanols, which
block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
For instance, an easy step to ensure a safe
cholesterol level is having a bowl of oatmeal
for breakfast. Beans, eggplant and okra are
especially rich in soluble fibre that mops up
cholesterol. Substituting your cooking oil
with vegetable oils, such as olive, canola
and sunflower, helps to lower LDL. Fruits
such as apples, grapes, strawberries and
citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a type of
soluble fibre that lowers LDL.
In addition, eating fishes two or three times
a week can lower LDL by replacing meat,
which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and
by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats.
Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the blood
stream and also protect the heart by helping
to prevent the onset of abnormal heart
However, experts comparing the
effectiveness of apple, oat and garden egg
in lowering the bad cholesterol in the blood
suggested that garden egg was the best.
Although apple and oat are common
components of breakfast in Western
countries, just as eggplant is widely
consumed in Nigeria, researchers pointed
out in a 2005 study published in the
Pakistan Journal of Nutrition that “garden
egg significantly reduced the total
cholesterol and triglyceride as well as
increase the HDL compared to oat and apple
in both the mid-term and full-term studies.”
This study involving James Karho Edijala,
Samuel Ogheneovo Asagba and Uzezi
Atomatofa from the Department of
Biochemistry, Delta State University, Abraka,
in collaboration with George Edaghogho
Eriyamremu from the Department of
Biochemistry, University of Benin, Benin
City, was entitled “Comparative Effect of
Garden Egg Fruit, Oat and Apple on Serum
Lipid in Rats Fed a High Cholesterol Diet.”
They wrote, “the results obtained indicate
that garden egg plant significantly reduced
weight gain of rats and feed efficiency
compared with the other supplements.”
Apart from the lowering of blood
cholesterol for the two and four weeks
study periods showing a similar trend, they
wrote the blood cholesterol-reduction of a
diet containing oat, apple or oat can be
detected after two weeks of feeding.

‘Mango, pawpaw leaves have similar potency to malaria drug’

In what is best described as an attestation to the efficacy of herbs in the prevention of malaria in the country, experts have found the water extracts of pawpaw and mango leaves showed potencies against
malaria parasites and that they compare
favourably with an established long acting
orthodox anti-malarial drug, sulphadoxine/
pyrimethamine. One of the common drugs
in this group is Fanisidar (SP).
Carica papaya or pawpaw has been studied for its many medicinal uses. Its fruit rind is reportedly used in India by traditional healers for the treatment of ‘recurrent fever’. On the other hand, the medicinal uses of the fruits, stem, bark, leaf and root of Magnifera indica (mango) have beenrecognised for ages.
In Nigerian folk medicine, the leaves of both
pawpaw and mango have been reported to
be among the plants’ parts made into a
decoction and used by herbalists in South-
Eastern Nigeria for the treatment of patients
with complaints of malaria symptoms.
Malaria has continued to cause deaths and ill
health on a large scale, especially among the
highly vulnerable groups, young children
and pregnant women in tropical countries.
In Africa, it causes more than one million
deaths every year, and in Nigeria, the
infection rate has been described as
holoendemic, with more than 75 per cent of
children aged between five and nine years
Anti-malarial drugs have been used in
various ways to prevent or treat malaria
infection in the resident populations of
malaria-endemic areas for nearly 100 years.
However, the alarming rate at which the
parasite, particularly Plasmodium
falciparium, has continued to develop
resistance to currently used anti-malarial
drugs, makes it imperative to search for
newer, more effective therapeutic agents.
This need has further been highlighted by
the current recommendation of artemisinin
(a plant product) based combination
therapies by World Health Organisation
(WHO). Artemisinin, obtained from Artemisia
annua, and quinine, obtained from Cinchona
species, are proven instances of
compounds derived from plants with anti-
malarial potential.
In a study that compared the
chemotherapeutic effects of a long acting
anti-malarial drug, Sulphadoxine
pyrimethamine (SP) and crude aqueous leaf
extracts of Carica papaya (CP) and
Magnifera indica (MI), using mice infected
with the rodent malaria parasite,
Plasmodium berghei, researchers found all
the three ‘drugs’ reduced significantly the
malaria parasite count in the test animals
after the sixth day of treatment. Although,
SP showed the highest anti-malarial potency
(84.9 per cent), those of the extracts of CP
(64.2 per cent) and C. papaya-M. indica (CP-
MI) combination (68.1 per cent) compared
In addition, they found that the anti-malarial
potency of CP-MI combination on the sixth
day was higher than those of either CP or
MI, suggesting a possible synergistic
activity between the active components
present in both plants.
The 2009 study entitled “Comparative Anti-
malarial Effects of Sulphadoxine/
Pyrimethamine and Aqueous Leaf Extracts
of Carica papaya, Magnifera indica in
Mice”was carried out by F. O. Uhegbu, from
the Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State;
and C. U. Igwe and A. O. Ojiako, Federal
University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State
as well as G. O. Oze, from the Department of
Medical Biochemistry, College of Medicine,
Imo State University, Owerri, Imo State.
The researchers wrote in the study
published in the Nigerian Journal of
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: “This is
consistent with reported anti-malarial
activity of these plants. CP extract, however,
showed a higher potency than MI extract
since it reduced parasitaemia count by 43.2
per cent and 64.2 per cent as against MI’s
32.3 per cent and 49.0 per cent, on the third
and sixth days after drug administration
“Interestingly, its potency was higher (37.2
per cent) than that of MI (32.3 per cent), but
lower than that of CP (43.3 per cent) on the
third day. Although, the CP-MI showed a
lower potency than CP on the third day, its
potency shot higher (68.1 per cent) than
either CP (64.2 per cent) or MI (49.0 per
cent) on the sixth day.
“This may possibly explain the reported use
of both leaves together, among other
plants, in a decoction by herbalists for
malaria treatment in Nigeria.
However, Nigerian researchers have also
developed herbal cures for malaria that can
take care of resistant strains. They have
produced potent anti-malaria cocktails from
local plants.
A typical cocktail developed by a plant
taxonomist at the University of Nigeria,
Nsukka (UNN) and Ebonyi State University,
Professor Jonathan Okafor, consists of
Morinda lucida, Nauclea latifolia,
Cymbopogon citratus, pawpaw leaves,
Moringa oleifera, Mangifera indica, bitter
kola, and Psidium guajava.
To prepare the cocktail entails collecting the
leaves of Morinda lucida (brimstone tree,
oruwo in Yoruba and eze-ogu in Igbo). It is
commonly called local cinchona and Eze
ogwu in Igbo. It should consist half of the
whole concoction. This is mixed with leaves
of Nauclea latifolia (ubulu inu in Igbo,
egbesi in Yoruba and marga in Hausa),
Cymbopogon citratus (lemon grass), male
Carica papaya leaves (pawpaw), Moringa
oleifera ( drumstick tree or ewe ile in
Yoruba, zogalla-gandi in Hausa and ikwe
beke in Ibo) leaves because of its high
nutritional content and immune boosting
properties, Mango leaves and bark, which
boosts red blood cells, bitter cola and guava
in equal quantities.
In addition, Director of Pax Herbal Clinics,
Rev. Fr. Anselm Adodo, in his book “Nature
Power For Malaria” suggested different
recipes for the treatment of malaria. To
prepare a remedy for malaria, he wrote,
“Squeeze four yellow pawpaw leaves and
30 leaves of bitter-leaf plant all together in
eight bottles of water and a glassful taken
thrice daily for 20 days.
“The second formula is squeeze the leaves
of Goat weed (Ageratum conyzoides) in
water. It is called akwukwo nea, osi n’aka or
ahenhea in Igbo, imi-eshu in Yoruba, eb-
ghedore in Edo, ikpamaku in Urhobo and
otiti in Efik. Make it as concentrated as
possible. Take one glassful thrice daily for
five days. This preparation is excellent for
intestinal ulcer.
“Thirdly, bring an equal amount of lemon
grass leaves, orange peels and leaves of
Brimstone tree (Morinda lucida); boil in a
medium-sized pot for 40 minutes. Take one
glass thrice daily for seven days.
Researchers have also evaluated the anti-
malarial activity of Morinda lucida leaf
extract. According to the study published in
Indian Journal of Pharmacology, “The
petroleum ether extract, chloroquine and
fractions A and C at the employed doses
inhibited the P. falciparum growth.
Petroleum ether extract and some fractions
of M. lucida inhibited the maturation of drug
sensitive strain of P. falciparum in-vitro. ”
Indeed, local researchers have made huge
progress on herbal cures for malaria. One of
such herbs used to treat malaria is Enatia
chlorantha, a herb that among the Yoruba-
speaking community is called Iyani or
Awopa while in Benin, it is called
Equally, researchers at the Pharmacology
and Toxicology Department, Faculty of
Pharmacy, University of Uyo, have shown
that the fruit extract of Tetrapleura
tetraptera possesses significant anti-
malarial activities.
Tetrapleura tetraptera referred to as dawo
in Hausa, uyayak in Ibibio, osakirisa
(Owerri) in Igbo and aridan in Yoruba has
been shown to have anti-plasmodial (active
against malaria parasite) properties which
may have contributed to the immune status
of the Nigerians against malaria in addition
to its nutritive value.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Study unravels how hypertension is treated in communities

No few than 29 percent of Nigerias rely on CAM in the management of hypertension, a Nigerian study has found.
A new study to determine the frequency
and factors associated with use of CAM
among hypertensive subjects found that 29
per cent used CAM in the management of
their hypertension and the most common
forms used were herbs (63%) and garlic
Hypertension is one of the most common
non-communicable diseases worldwide
affecting up to 800 million of the world’s
adult population. It is estimated to cause 4.5
per cent of the current global disease
burden and is often as prevalent in many
developing countries as in developed
While reliable data from large scale,
population based studies in sub-Saharan
Africa are few, the evidence suggests that
overall hypertension prevalence is between
10 and 15 per cent, with specific settings
(for example, some urban centres) often
having twice these prevalence rates.
Traditional health practitioners often play a
major role in health care in many countries,
inclusive of hypertension. For example,
some researchers reported that as many as
63.9 per cent of their hypertensive subjects
in a clinic in India took herbal medicines,
while in Morocco 80 per cent of patients
with hypertension and diabetes used
medicinal plants to treat their ailments.
The study which was carried out in Idikan
community, a community in Ibadan,
involved 440 hypertensive subjects and .it
took into consideration such factors as their
gender, belief on causes of hypertension,
age, educational level and occupation. It also
included an in-depth interview with CAM
practitioners (called indigenous healers or
traditional healers) in the community to
obtain their perspectives on their
management of hypertension.
In addition, a large proportion (63.4 per
cent) of the respondents reported that they
sought care for their condition from the
hospital (the nearby University College
Hospital (UCH), community health centre and
private hospital); while 5 per cent said they
went to the chemist or Patent Medicine
Vendor (PMV). It was interesting to note that
a significant proportion of respondents
used a combination of these facilities.
Despite the fact that none of the
respondents reported using traditional
healer exclusively, 9.5 per cent of the
respondents who visited the hospital still
made use of traditional medicine, while 7.3
per cent used the chemist and traditional
Nearly one-third (29.1 per cent) of
respondents reported using CAM. About 13
per cent of the overall sample used CAM and
sought care with a CAM practitioner while
16.1 per cent used CAM but did not seek
care from a CAM practitioner. Among those
reporting use of CAM, the main forms used
were: herbs only (63 per cent), garlic (21
per cent), and herbs and prayer (8 per cent).
The researchers found out that four
variables were independent predictors of
CAM use. They were being male, belief in
supernatural causes of hypertension, lack of
belief that hypertension is preventable and
having a family history of hypertension.
The interviews with the study participants
revealed that their beliefs was that
hypertension was caused by evil forces (21
per cent), stress or “too much blood in the
body”. They also thought they could cure
hypertension but that reduced costs
(compared to hospitals) was one of the
reasons most of their clients consult them.
The 2010 study published in BMC
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
2010 was entitled “Complementary and
alternative medicine in the management of
hypertension in an urban Nigerian
It was carried out by Pauline E. Osamor
from the Department of Sociology, Bowen
University, Iwo, Osun State in collaboration
with Bernard E. Owumi from the
Department of Sociology, University of
Ibadan, Ibadan.
In addition, the study found that men were
more than twice as likely to use CAM and
belief in supernatural causes of
hypertension was the most notable belief
predicting CAM use.
The reason why patients choose to use CAM
have been much discussed, but not fully
understood. But according to this study, it
was suggested that the common
determinants of CAM use include the socio-
demographic characteristics of patients.
They wrote: “There are other complex
psycho-social and cultural factors. Patients
may choose to use CAM because they are
dissatisfied with conventional treatments
that are perceived to be ineffective or have
unpleasant side effects. Patients may also
find CAM attractive because it is consonant
with their personal values, religious and
health philosophies.”
Meanwhile, the CAM practitioners’ views
about causes, severity and prevalence of
hypertension were interesting. They related
the cause of hypertension to being a
spiritual problem, caused by evil forces and
too much blood in the body. Hypertension
was also seen as a poor man’s sickness.
The interviews with the CAM practitioners
were quite revealing regarding the
curability of hypertension.
Two of them believed that hypertension
was curable and they themselves can
actually cure hypertension with the herbs
and concoctions they give to their clients.
One of CAM practitioner interviewed, who
was not sure if the disease was curable,
said he had seen a lot of people over the
years that had been using a combination of
orthodox medicine and traditional medicine,
and yet remained hypertensive.
Nonetheless, the researchers stated that
more research was needed on
understanding people’s perspective on the
spiritual causes of hypertension because
people’s behaviour is not independent of
their beliefs. According to them, evidence
for how these are related in CAM use would
clearly be beneficial for hypertension
control programmes.
In Nigeria, two hospital-based studies
previously found that herbal medicine
among hypertension patients was 39 per
cent and 24 per cent, respectively. For
instance, a study carried out at a secondary
health care facility in Maiduguri, Nigeria,
between April and June 2007 which
involved 500 ambulatory hypertensive
patients attending the hypertension clinic
found 120 of them to be using herbal
The 2009 study published in the
International Journal of Pharmacy Practice
indicated the co-administration of herbal
medicines with antihypertensive agents
was done by 47.5 per cent respondents, out
of which herbs with antihypertensive
activity were used by 33.33 per cent. The
majority of respondents, 71.15 per cent,
were using herbal medicines unbeknownst
to their physicians.
Other studies have assessed patients’
perception of the therapeutic efficacy of
alternative medicines and in some of these
studies, more than half of these alternative
medicine users perceived that CAM was
responsible for some noticeable
improvement in physical or psychological
well being.
However, more research is needed in the
areas of both subjective and objective
measures of improvement achieved with
using CAM, especially because most of the
current claims for the efficacy (usually
touted in advertisements) are not backed
by any empirical data.
Several other medicinal plants have been
listed to be useful in the treatment of
hypertension. A review of such plants by
E.U Etuk from the Department of
Pharmacology, College of health Sciences,
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto
which was published by the 2006 edition of
the Journal of Medical Science included dry
calyx of Hibiscus Sabdarifa (sobo); stem
bark of soaked in locally distilled gin; garlic
( five to 10 minced raw garlic cloves per
day); latex or leave extract of Musanga
cecropioides (Aga or Agbawoin in Yoruba,
Onru in Igbo and Uno in Efik); Cassia
occidentalis (negro coffee), Vitex dodiana
(black plum), Phyllanthus amarus and

Garlic may help protect against osteoarthritis

A diet high in allium vegetables, such as
garlic, onions and leeks, may help lower the
risk osteoarthritis, according to new
research from King’s College London.
The study, published in the BMC
Musculoskeletal Disorders, highlighted the
possible effects of diet in protecting against
osteoarthritis and suggested a potential for
using specific beneficial compounds found
in garlic to develop treatments for the
“Osteoarthritis is a major health issue and
this exciting study shows the potential for
diet to influence the course of the disease.
With further work to confirm and extend
these early findings, this may open up the
possibility of using diet or dietary
supplements in the future treatment
osteoarthritis,” said Professor Ian Clark,
from the University of East Anglia, a co-
author of the study.
Osteoarthritis is the most common disabling
joint condition affecting elderly adults, and
has a significant impact on adults of
working age. Several predisposing genetic
variants have been discovered and
environmental risk factors that have been
identified include an influence of body
mass index (BMI).
“A role for micronutrients in both the
incidence and progression of osteoarthritis,
particularly at the cartilage level. Reactive
oxygen species have been shown to
influence both normal chondrocyte activity
and cartilage damage so an important role
for antioxidants is widely postulated,” said
the researchers, led by Dr Frances Williams
from King’s College London.
However, they said that the effects of
individual dietary micronutrients in vivo,
remains uncertain.
Results from the Framingham study
suggested a protective effect of vitamin D
on progression of knee osteoarthritis as
well as protective effects of vitamin C, beta
carotene and vitamin E.
Rather than attempt to look at individual
nutrients, the new study investigated the
patterns of food intake in relation to
prevalence of osteoarthritis of the hand,
hip, and knee, in a large volunteer cohort of
over 1,000 healthy female twins using the
food frequency questionnaire.
Trends in dietary analysis revealed a
specific pattern of dietary intake, high in
fruit and vegetables, showed a statistically
significant inverse association with hip
The researchers reported that consumption
of non-citrus fruit and alliums - such as
garlic - had the strongest protective effect.
Williams and colleagues noted that diallyl
disulphide - a compound found in garlic and
other alliums -has been shown to repress
the expression of degrading enzymes that
are linked with osteoarthritis -providing a
potential mechanism of action for the
observed effect.
“While we don’t yet know if eating garlic
will lead to high levels of this component in
the joint, these findings may point the way
towards future treatments and prevention
of hip osteoarthritis,” said Dr Williams.
The researchers added that if such results
are confirmed by independent replication,
then dietary intervention trials would be “a
reasonable next step.”

Experts caution on anti-fertility effects of sweet basil

For men that take extracts of Ocinum gratissimum for various medical conditions, this new finding should not make you cringe but rather caution you against
indiscriminate and long time use of herbs.
If the finding of this new study that
investigated the effects of aqueous leaf
extracts of Ocinum gratissimum (OG) on
hormonal and semen parameters of mice is
translatable to humans, drinking solely
water extracts of OG could pose a grave
danger to men’s health because of its toxic
effects on the testis.
The study found that the aqueous leaf
extract of O.gratissimum (nchuanwu in
Ibo, efinrin in Yoruba and daidoya in
Hausa) has anti-fertility property when
administered alone and that the toxic
effects of the plant on the testis may be due
to its deleterious effects on the
seminiferous tubules, which are important
testicular structures involved in sperm
Normal male reproductive function is
dependent on the normal functioning of the
male reproductive organ and other
accessory organs/structures. The male
reproductive organ is the testis, which is
primarily responsible for the production of
spermatozoa. Sperm production occurs in
the seminiferous tubules of the testis, which
is controlled by testosterone, produced by
the Leydig (interstitial) cells of the testis. The
quality and quantity of spermatozoa
produced will therefore depend on normal
functioning of the testicular structures and
reproductive hormones.
Ocimum gratissimum (also known as
African basil) is a medicinal plant which is a
native of Africa and Asia. In Nigeria, African
basil is described by different local names,
but it is popularly known as “scent leaf” in
most parts of the country. The plant is used
as a condiment and spice in most parts of
the world, including Nigeria, in the
preparation of different dishes.
It is also used widely in folk medicine for
the treatment of several ailments including
fever, cough and respiratory disorders, sore
throat, kidney stones, epilepsy, dermatitis,
headache, stress and mental diseases. In
addition to its many health benefits, African
basil is used widely as a condiment or spice
and as a source of flavour and which may
be used in soup preparation.
For the study, the researchers had three
groups of animals and orally gave water
extracts of dried sweet basil leaves daily for
one, two and four weeks, respectively,
while a fourth (control) group received only
distilled water. They were sacrificed at the
end of each treatment period and blood
sample was analysed for their levels of
testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone
(FSH) and leutinizing hormone (LH).
In addition, semen was collected and
analysed for semen parameters, while the
testis was evaluated for histological
The 2010 study published in the Journal of
Medicinal Plants Research was entitled
“Antifertility effects of aqueous crude
extract of Ocimum gratissimum L. leaves in
male mice’’. It was carried out by
Atuboyedia Wolfe Obianime, Chinagoro T. O.
Esomonu and Jonah Sydney Aprioku from
the College of Health Sciences, University of
Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
The researchers found that while daily
administering African basil for a week
caused significant decrease in testosterone
at some doses, it failed to cause clear dose-
dependent effects.
In addition, they found that African basil
caused significant dose dependent
decreases in sperm count and motility over
one week. Dose-dependently increase in the
percentages of abnormal sperm cells,
primordial sperm cells and sperm debris
were discovered.
Similarly, one week’s administration of
African basil caused significant dose-
dependent decreases in testicular weight.
However, there were no significant changes
in testicular weight in animals that received
African basil for two and four weeks,
compared to the control animals.
Furthermore, a week’s exposure to African
basil caused damages to the seminiferous
epithelium, characterised by varying
degrees of swelling or oedema within the
tubules and the interstitial cells and reduced
rate at which mature sperms are formed
(spermatogenesis) compared to normal
testicular structures in the control animals.
They remarked that the effects of aqueous
leaf extract of African basil on the
reproductive hormones and semen
parameters were consistent with previous
findings on the anti-fertility effects of
Ocimum sanctum.
Since African basil had no significant effects
on the reproductive hormonal profile but
adversely affected semen parameters and
testicular histology, they suggested that the
deleterious effects of African basil may
mainly be due to direct deleterious effects
on the seminiferous tubules as well as the
Leydig and Sertoli cells, which are directly
involved in the production of spermatozoa.
They wrote:”The present study in mice
however has shown that four weeks
administration of the plant is toxic on
testicular structures/function. The different
actions of African basil may be attributed to
the effects of different components of the
plant under the different conditions. African
basil contains several pharmacologically
active components. The spermicidal effect
of African basil in this study may be due to
the effects of triterpenes and saponnins
components in the plant which are
deleterious to sperm cells. The toxicity of
the saponnins may be related to their
astringent actions on the cell surfaces of
sperm cells, causing a disruption of the cell
membrane, which could result in the
reduction in sperm motility, as well as the
inhibition of specific enzymes (e.g.
hyaluronidase and acrosin) necessary for
sperm synthesis.
Although African basil had been reported in
previous studies to cause congestion and
oedema in seminiferous tubules, with
increase in abnormal sperm cells, the study
failed to show any dose- and time related
effects because only two doses were used
and harvesting was done once.
In addition, previous studies on the toxic
effects of the extract of Sweet basil on the
blood production in the body found that it
also caused a reduction in the Packed Cell
Volume (PCV) and hemoglobin (Hb) values,
with proliferation of white blood cells
Furthermore, Ocimum sanctum which is in
the same genus with African basil had been
reported to have anti-fertility effects in
male albino rats. However, not much was
known about the reproductive effects of
African basil prior to this study.

Green banana, inexpensive solution to diarrhoea

DESPITE advances in therapy and prevention, deaths due to diarrhea remain high especially among children in the third world countries. Although antibiotics and rehydration fluids
are the mainstay of treatment, the effects of antibiotics may be compromised by the
development of bacterial resistance to
drugs, as well as its cost and availability.
Researchers looking for effective, safe, and
simple interventions (other than antibiotics)
for the management of diarrhea have
shown that unripe, green banana, a
common fruit when added to regular diet of
children would enhance their recovery from
persistent diarrhea as well as support better
absorption of other nutrients that the body
requires in the child’s diet.
Diarrhoea is defined as the lane of multiple
watery, loose, or unformed stools.
Diarrhoea is not a disease, but rather, a
medical condition that could be indicative of
disease, syndrome, allergy or infection.
Diarrhoea is only a symptom and therefore,
treatment depends entirely on its lead to.
Most cases of diarrhoea are self-limiting,
though chronic diarrhoea may be a sign of
other health problems and should be
brought to the attention of your doctor.
A new community-based trial in rural
Bangladesh, which involved 2,968
Bangladeshi rural children between the ages
of six and 36 months, found that adding
cooked green banana to the diets hastened
recovery of children from diarrhoea at
The researchers involved in the 2010 study
which was published in the Tropical
Medicine and International Health Journal
found also that the cumulative probability
of cure was significantly faster in children
receiving green banana alongside the
standard care for diarrhea.
Green banana is grown and eaten in most
developing countries in Asia, Africa, and
Latin America; it is cheap, readily available,
and is used as antidiarrheal by the folk
healers in many communities.
The banana is like no other fruit. Both the
skin and inner part of the banana can be
eaten raw or cooked. Recent evidence
pointed to the fact that eating green
bananas has many health benefits. Green
bananas have a type of dietary fiber that
helps the body feel satisfied while it burns
fat. Diabetics eat green bananas as a source
of low calorie carbohydrate. It is difficult for
diabetics to get sufficient carbohydrates
without gaining weight. Green banana has
been reported to improve dyspepsia and
peptic ulcer in man.
A previous study that corroborated the
efficacy of green bananas in the treatment
of persistent diarrhea also reported that
eating cooked green bananas reduced stool
volume, improved stool quality, and
shortened the duration of illness in children
with persistent diarrhea by almost four
It was a double-blind, controlled study of 62
boys aged between five and 12 months,
those who ate between 180 and 200 g of
cooked green bananas (1/2-2 bananas) per
day for 7 days. This was carried out under
the hospital setting.
There is increasing scientific interest on the
effect of green bananas on diarrhea. One
study showed that consumption of mature
green bananas dramatically decreased
levels of mucus and blood in stools, thus
making effective in alleviating symptoms of
shigellosis, a childhood disease caused by
the bacteria shigella, which infects the
intestinal tract and causes vomiting and
Shigella bacteria can contaminate food and
water supplies, especially in areas where
the sanitation is not adequate. However,
most of the time the bacteria are spread
when a person comes into contact with
another person’s stool.
Seventy-three children aged between six
and 60 months with severe bloody
dysentery caused by Shigella infection were
either given a rice-based diet, with cooked
green banana to a pasty pulp (250 g/L) or
without green banana for five days; all
given ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic). Stool
volume, frequency, excretion of blood/
mucus, and relevant clinical and laboratory
indices were determined.
Clinical cure was defined on day five as the
absence of frank blood or mucus in the
stool, the passage of no more than three
non-watery stools, and resolution of fever.
On day five after the commencement of the
treatment, they found that 59 per cent of
the children in green banana group had no
mucus compared with 36 per cent in
controls; blood in stool was completely
cleared from 96 per cent of children in the
green banana group compared with 60 per
cent without green banana.
Also, green banana treatment significantly
reduced numbers of stools/day compared
with controls. Green banana -specific
reductions of mean volumes of watery
stool passed out by the children ranged
from 25 to 40 per cent during the 5-day
observations. Clinical success rates were 85
per cent in green banana group compared
with 67 per cent in controls.
Based on their findings, the researchers
declared in 2009 publication of The
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal that
“Green banana diet improves clinical
severity in childhood shigellosis and could
be a simple and useful adjunct for dietary
management of this illness.”
While the results of this study allow green
banana to be classified as a prebiotic that
could be offered as an inexpensive and
simple intervention to diarrhea, experts
attributed the observed antidiarrheal
effects of green banana to its content of
resistant starch.
The resistant starch is fermented to fatty
acids by digestive microorganisms inside
the intestine. These fatty acids aside from
providing nutrients for the growth of these
micro organisms, also promotes healing of
the intestinal lining as well as prevent the
growth of Shigella.
Nonetheless, further studies they submitted
was required to determine if green banana
is an effective supplementary treatment of
other infectious diarrheal diseases, both in
developing and industrialised countries.

Plants that prolong life in sickle celldisease

Sickle cell disease (SCD), a common inherited blood disorder, affects people from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Mediterranean basin, Indian subcontinent, Caribbeans and South America. Some 200,000 babies are born
every year in sub-Saharan Africa with sickle
cell disease, which is associated with
complications and a reduced life expectancy
People with sickle cell disease have red
blood cells that contain mostly Haemoglobin
S, an abnormal type of haemoglobin.
Sometimes these red blood cells become
sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have
difficulty passing through small blood
When sickle-shaped cells block small blood
vessels, less blood can reach that part of the
body. Tissue that does not receive a normal
blood flow eventually becomes damaged.
This is what causes the complications of
sickle cell disease. There is currently no
universal cure for sickle cell disease.
People with SCD, as such, remain a
vulnerable group and could be at risk from
remedies that they may. These remedies
may include traditional medicines or herbal
remedies, which may have true benefits or
risks that might go unrecognised by the
classically-trained medical fraternity.
Laboratory work has long suggested that
these medicines may help to ease the
symptoms of sickle cell disease.
Unfortunately, there has not been any
systematic appraisal of the health benefits
of these medicines derived from herbs.
In filling up this gap, a new study published
in the 2010 Cochrane Database of
Systematic Reviews tried to review the
benefits and risks of common
phytomedicines used by people with sickle
cell disease, taking into consideration the
different sickle cell disease types and age of
people affected by the blood disorder.
The assessment was carried out by Oluseyi
Oniyangi from the Paediatrics Department,
National Hospital, Abuja in collaboration
with Damian Cohall from the Faculty of
Medical Sciences, University of the West
Indies, St Michael, Barbados. It was entitled,
“Phytomedicines (medicines derived from
plants) for sickle cell disease” and only two
phytomedicines met the stipulated
standards set for the review.
The safety and efficacy of all
phytomedicines is a challenge and its true
benefit and risks to the individual with SCD
need to be accurately reported.
One of these phytomedicines in this review
is known as Niprisan (also known as
Nicosan), a freeze-dried extract of Piper
guineenses seeds (black pepper, Iyere in
Yoruba or Uziza in Ibo), Pterocarpus stem
(osun in Yoruba), Eugenia caryophyllum
(clove) fruit and Sorghum leaves. Niprisan
has been investigated under different
laboratory conditions.
In addition, a Phase IIB (pivotal) clinical trial
was conducted on Niprisan by the National
Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and
Development (NIPRD) to compare the safety
and efficacy of a phytomedicine derived
from plants indigenous to Nigeria in people
with SCD.
Another phytomedicine, the review
considered was Ciklavit, an extract of
Cajanus cajan, an edible local bean. In 2005,
a randomised placebo-controlled single-
blind intervention trial compared its safety
and efficacy to placebo in people with SCD.
The anti-sickling property of the Cajanus
cajan (Pigeon pea in English, olele in Edo,
shingwazo in Gwari) extract has been
attributed to this amino acid. Zinc (400 ug)
and ascorbic acid (50 mg) were added as
In vitro studies with red cells from people
with SCD have shown potentially clinically
beneficial action of extracts of plants,
including Fagara xanthyloides(orin ata in
Yoruba), Khaya senegalensis (African
Mahogany, madachi in Hausa and ono in
Igbo) and Cajanus cajan.
They wrote: “While Niprisan appeared to be
safe and effective in reducing severe
painful crises over a six-month follow-up
period, further trials are required to assess
its role in the management of people with
SCD and the results of its multicentre trials
are awaited. “
They suggested that Ciklavit, which has
been reported to reduce painful crises in
people with SCD, deserved further study
before recommendations can be made
regarding its use.
According to the published results for
Niprisan and in view of the limitations in
data collection and analysis of both trials,
which indicated that phytomedicines may
have a potential beneficial effect in
reducing painful crises in SCD, they declared
that there was the need for it to be further
validated in future trials. Further research,
they indicated should also assess long-term
outcome measures of these phytomedicines
in treatment of sickle cell disease.
Finally, both trials only looked at those with
sickle cell anaemia (SS) and other genotypes
may benefit from phytomedicines. They
declared the need for future trials to
address this.