For years in the West African nation of Ghana medicine men have used a root and leaves from a plant called nibima(Cryptolepis sanguinolenta) to kill the Plasmodium parasite transmitted through a female mosquito’s bite that is the root cause of malaria. A thousand miles away in India, a similar(same) plant with similar properties called maranta, or Cryptolepis buchananii (Indian sarsaparilla), is used by Ayurvedic doctors to treat an assortment of ailments from urinary tract infection to paralysis and ricketts.
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana is currently researching the pharmacological properties of the plant with hopes of producing an export drug.
In my opinion, this is being done to prevent the usurpation of their traditional healing formulas by global big pharma companies and is a shame as it is well known that plants in their purist forms have the least side effects. The Noguchi Memorial Institute has formulated over 38 herbal remedies out of 78 plant types. According to an article entitled Nibima A wonder plant for malaria treatment written by Clare Banoeng for Eyes on Malaria Online :
“When the Centre was established, it was given the mandate to research, develop and promote traditional medicine practice in Ghana. It was also to collaborate in the collation, publication and dissemination of results of research among others. This is to the extent that the Ghanaian public even today believes that it is a regulatory body. Initial work undertaken by the centre was to go round and collect information from Ghanaian traditional herbalists on samples of plants, recipes and herbal preparations, dosage and where such medicinal plants could be found. Plants so revealed now have been documented with prepared specimens after the scientists researched again to validate what had been found. Out of this the centre has been able to formulate about 35 herbal preparations from the 78 medicinal plants collected into liquids, powders, tea, ointments and capsules making the centre a wealth of knowledge not only on traditional medicine but also on information and particulars of traditional herbalists in Ghana.
One of the problems faced by African healthcare researchers is the fact that big pharmaceutical companies comes in buy up the ready available herbal source and supply thus driving prices up to the point the locals cannot afford their own home remedies. The price of the plant from which Nimiba is derived, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, has risen five fold due to this phenomena over the past few years.
Click here to read the PROTA database description of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta
Click here to view another photo of the Cryptolepis sanguinolenta plant
Click here to read a press release of innovative African medical ventures currently being undertaken in various nations on the continent.
Click here to read a study on the side effects ( or lack thereof) of NibimaHome
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