Research and identification
During our research in Mali, we were able to correlate the treatments used (modern and traditional medicines) and patient response in the case of uncomplicated malaria. These initial results have shown that some medicinal plants are consistently associated with good outcomes. Extracts of each plant were tested in vitro for their antimalarial activity on a strain of Plasmodium falciparum resistant to chloroquine.
These tests, conducted at the Swiss Tropical Institute (STI, Basel) showed that six plants selected by our investigations proved highly active against the parasite that causes malaria. Among these medicinal plants, Argemone mexicana was chosen for further study.
What is argemone Mexicana?
Argemone mexicana is a plant that grows in arid soils that are high in nitrates. It can grow up to one metre tall and contains a bright yellow juice (latex) that thickens the air as well as numerous alkaloids, whose effects have been used for a long time. Argemone mexicana is found in many parts of the globe including Mexico, the USA, the Caribbean, Cuba, Hawaii, India and Mali (where it is viewed as an antimalarial).
The plant is easy to identify and unlike any other, so there is no danger of confusion with a poisonous plant that looks similar. In addition, Argemone mexicana grows easily and requires no arable land, no fertiliser, and does not compete with food crops.
“Sumafoura” an improved traditional medicine
To verify the effectiveness of this plant in the field it was necessary to set up a randomised clinical trial in which treatment with argemone was compared with a conventional artemisinin-based therapy recommended by the WHO. This study showed that the potion made from leaves of Argemone mexicana could be recommended because it offers a truly effective treatment, comparable to the best drugs, without presenting further medical, social or environmental risks.
SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
- Home treatments alone or mixed with modern treatments for malaria in Finkolo AC, South Mali: reported use, outcomes and changes over 10 years, by Bertrand Graz and al., The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2015
- Intellectual property rights, benefit-sharing and development of “improved traditional medicines”: A new approach. Willcox M, Diallo D, Sanogo R, Giani S, Graz B, Falquet J, Bodeker G., Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2015; 176:281–285.
- Scientific American, “Seeds of a cure”, June 2014
- Hunter’s Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Bodeker G, Graz B: Traditional medicine (Chapter). Elsevier, Oxford, 2013.
- A « reverse pharmacology » approach for developing an anti-malarial phytomedicine, Willcox ML, Graz B, Diakite C, Falquet J, Giani S, Diallo D., Malaria Journal, 2011, 10(Suppl 1):S8
- Is parasite clearance clinically important after malaria treatment in a high transmission area? A 3-month follow-up of home-based management with herbal medicine or ACT, Willcox ML, Graz B, Diakite C, Falquet J, Dackouo F, Sidibe O, Giani S, Diallo D., Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, (2011); 105(1):23-31
- Argemone mexicana decoction versus artesunate-amodiaquine for the management of malaria in Mali: policy and public-health implications, B. Graz, ML Willcox, C. Diakite, J. Falquet, F. Dachuo, O. Sidibe, S. Giani, D. Diallo, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, (2010); 104(1):33-41
- Malaria treatment in remote areas of Mali: use of modern and traditional medicines, patient outcome, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2006