A new paper suggests that certain traditional soup broths may contain active ingredients that could help fight off malaria. The research appears in the BMJ journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, and professor Jake Baum, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, is the last and corresponding author of the paper. As Prof. Baum and his colleagues mention, almost half of the
world’s population is at risk of developing a malaria infection, with half-a-million children dying as a result of the condition each year across the globe. Several parasite species from the Plasmodium genus cause malaria, but Plasmodium falciparum, specifically, is responsible for 99% of the deaths. P. falciparum is increasingly resistant to antimalarial drugs, explain the researchers, which makes the need for new therapies imperative. Prof.
Baum and team started from the observation that the newest antimalarial drug, called artemisinin, derives from qinghao, a traditional Chinese herb from the Artemisia family. In fact, qinghao has been a part of
traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years, and people have used it to treat malaria-related fever. So, the researchers wondered, are there any other traditional, natural remedies with antimalarial properties? To find out, they screened 60 traditional soup broths — with renown fever-reducing properties — that originated from countries in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The team obtained the soups by asking pupils from various ethnic backgrounds in a primary school in London to bring in their homemade soups. Of the 60 soup samples that the pupils brought in, some did not filter because they were too dense, and others because they were too oily.