Parijat the night flowering jasmine a common Indian plant,has been found to have anti-malarial properties.
Scientists have medically established the effect of Parijat leaves extract on malarial parasites and are now looking for the molecules responsible.
Parijat leaves extract was being used in anti-malarial activities in western India,especially Gujarat and Maharashtra. But it is not widely discussed in Ayurvedic literature, said Dr Ashok B Vaidya,Research Director of ICMR Advance Centre for Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine at Kasturba Health Society,Mumbai.
Vaidya was in the city to participate in the International Symposium on Current Trends in Drug Discovery Research 2010 organised by Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI).
On the second day of the four-day symposium,Vaidya gave a lecture on Reverse Pharmacology in Traditional Medicine and Drug Discovery Research.
The Parijat leaf extract is effective against both types of known malarial parasite,but it is especially useful against even the resistant strain of Plasmodium Falciparum, he said.
Found in certain pockets of the country including the northeast,the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders and around Delhi,Falciparum has grown resistant to the only available drug.
The parasite is found worldwide and accounts for as many as 40 per cent of malarial deaths in the state.
Every day,some 3,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa die of malaria and the yet to be discovered molecule can be very useful, Vaidya said. Even the crude extract of Parijat leaves kill the parasites of malaria and patients can also consume the leaf extract directly by making a paste of three to four leaves at home.
Recognised for his research on medicinal plants,Vaidya found people in western India using the extract of the leaves for malaria patients and started research on the plant six years ago.
The process of identification of molecules responsible for the anti-malarial activity and their mechanism of action is still going on, he said.
Once the molecules are identified,we can either synthesise them in laboratory or grow the plant because,though not found abundantly in the country,it is easy to grow.