Malaria supplements

  • Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is derived from two sources: preformed retinoids and provitamin carotenoids. Retinoids, such as retinal and retinoic acid, are found in animal sources like liver, kidney, eggs, and dairy produce. Carotenoids like beta-carotene (which has the highest vitamin A activity) are found in plants such as dark or yellow vegetables and carrots. Natural retinoids are present in all living organisms, either as preformed vitamin A or as carotenoids, and are required for a vast number of biological processes like vision and cellular growth. A major biologic function of vitamin A (as the metabolite retinal) is in the visual cycle. Research also suggests that vitamin A may reduce the mortality rate from measles, prevent some types of cancer, aid in growth and development, and improve immune function. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) levels for vitamin A oral intake have been established by the U.S. Institute for Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to prevent deficiencies in vitamin A. At recommended doses, vitamin A is generally considered non-toxic. Excess dosing may lead to acute or chronic toxicity. Vitamin A deficiency is rare in industrialized nations but remains a concern in developing countries, particularly in areas where malnutrition is common. Prolonged deficiency can lead to xerophthalmia (dry eye) and ultimately to night blindness or total blindness, as well as to skin disorders, infections (such as measles), diarrhea, and respiratory disorders.
  • Mugwort is a perennial herb native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. It pollinates mainly from July to September, although it may flower throughout the year, depending on the climate. The Chinese have used dried mugwort leaves (moxa) in moxibustion for centuries. Moxibustion is a method of heating specific acupuncture points on the body to treat physical conditions. Mugwort is carefully harvested, dried and aged, and then shaped into a cigar-like roll. This "moxa" is burned close to the skin to heat the specific pressure points. Mugwort leaf and stem have been used medicinally as a digestive stimulant and to promote menstruation. The nervine action of mugwort is thought to aid in depression and ease tension. Traditionally, mugwort was believed to provide protection from fatigue, sunstroke, wild animals, and evil spirits. No clinical studies have been performed on the use of mugwort as a medical treatment, although an extract from the related Artemisia annua suggests some promise in treating malaria. Dried mugwort (moxa) has been used in moxibustion to treat cancer, but there is no scientific evidence to support this use. Most research on mugwort has focused on its allergenic properties, as its pollen affects 10-14% of the patients suffering from pollinosis in Europe.
  • Sweet annie ( Artemisia annua ) is also known as Chinese wormwood or sweet wormwood. Although it is in the same genus as both wormwood (absinthe, Artemisia absinthium ) and mugwort ( Artemisia vulgaris ), each of these herbs has different uses and should not be confused. For more than 1,500 years, sweet annie tea was used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat fevers, although the herb fell out of favor for a few centuries. In 1970, a TCM handbook from the 5 th Century was discovered and stimulated interest in sweet annie. Although originally used to treat fevers, sweet annie was not used specifically for malaria. Sweet annie's main active constituent is artemisinin, which has shown rapid antimalarial activity in humans, especially when used as an adjuvant with standard antimalarial drugs. Considered a weed by some, the plant can be grown in many climates and a simple and effective preparation of Artemisia annua could be a much-needed inexpensive and convenient weapon against malaria. In addition to its promise in treating malaria, preliminary evidence indicates that sweet annie may have potential as an anticancer agent and an antiviral.
  • Zinc has been used since ancient Egyptian times to enhance wound healing, although the usefulness of this approach is only partially confirmed by the clinical data of today. Zinc is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes and plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Zinc is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) and is in a number of enzymatic reactions involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism. Its immune-enhancing activities include regulation of T lymphocytes, CD4, natural killer cells, and interleukin II. In addition, zinc has been claimed to possess antiviral activity. It has been shown to play a role in wound healing, especially following burns or surgical incisions. Zinc is necessary for the maturation of sperm and normal fetal development. It is involved in sensory perception (taste, smell, and vision) and controls the release of stored vitamin A from the liver. Within the endocrine system, zinc has been shown to regulate insulin activity and promote the conversion thyroid hormones thyroxine to triiodothyronine. Based on available scientific evidence, zinc may be effective in the treatment of (childhood) malnutrition, acne vulgaris, peptic ulcers, leg ulcers, infertility, Wilson's disease, herpes, and taste or smell disorders. Zinc has also gained popularity for its use in the prevention of the common cold. The role for zinc is controversial in some cases, as the results of published studies provide either contradictory information and/or the methodological quality of the studies does not allow for a confident conclusion regarding the role of zinc in those diseases.
  • Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin, which is involved in vital metabolic processes in the body and is necessary for normal cell function, growth, and energy production. Small amounts of riboflavin are present in most animal and plant tissues. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need riboflavin supplements. Especially good dietary sources of riboflavin are milk (and other dairy products), eggs, enriched cereals/grains, meats, liver, and green vegetables (such as asparagus or broccoli). Intake may be lower in vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians. Riboflavin is often used as a tracer of medication compliance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence, mental disorders, and other conditions. Urinary riboflavin levels may be measured in order to determine the level of compliance.
  • Goldenseal is one of the five top-selling herbal products in the United States. However, there is little scientific evidence about its safety or effectiveness. Goldenseal can be found in dietary supplements, eardrops, feminine cleansing products, cold/flu remedies, allergy remedies, laxatives, and digestive aids. Goldenseal is often found in combination with echinacea in treatments for upper respiratory infections and is suggested to enhance the effects of echinacea. However, the effects when these agents are combined are not scientifically proven. Goldenseal has been used by some people due to the popular notion that detection of illegal drugs in urine may be hidden by use of the herb, although scientific information is limited in this area. The popularity of goldenseal has led to a higher demand for the herb than growers can supply. This high demand has led to the substitution of other herbs such as Chinese goldthread ( Coptis chinensis Fransch.) and Oregon grape ( Mahonia aquifolium [Pursh] Nutt.), that do not contain exactly the same isoquinoline alkaloids and may not affect the body in the same way as goldenseal. Studies of the effectiveness of goldenseal are limited to one of its main chemical ingredients, berberine salts (there are few published human studies of goldenseal itself). Due to the small amount of berberine actually present in most goldenseal preparations (0.5-6%), it is difficult to extend the research of berberine salts to the use of goldenseal. Therefore, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of goldenseal in humans for any medical condition.
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