According to the findings of a recent study, a common herb that is native to west Africa may be used to cure sickle cell illness. Researchers at Aberystwyth University identified a chemical in the Alchornea cordifolia plant, that has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of a disease that is both life-threatening and excruciatingly painful. This disease affects 15,000 people in the United Kingdom.
Patients who suffer from sickle cell anemia have red blood cells that have a curved “sickle” form rather than their normal soft disc shape. Additionally, these red blood cells become sticky and stiff, which prevents them from moving freely throughout the body. The flow of blood is obstructed, notably in the joints, the chest, and the belly, which results in extreme discomfort, swelling of the hands and feet, delayed development, and issues with one’s ability to see well, among other symptoms. It is possible for it to cause stillbirth, and in certain circumstances, it is also lethal. It is a hereditary disorder that manifests itself most often in persons of African, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern heritage; overall, about 20 million people throughout the globe are afflicted by the condition. Each year, around 150,000 newborn infants in Nigeria are diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. There is a 50 percent chance that they will pass away before their tenth birthday.
Since ancient times, the juice extracted from this plant, which is native to the tropical parts of Africa, has been used in a “blood tonic” as a traditional form of treatment; nevertheless, its efficacy had never been shown on a scientific level prior to the present.
Crushing the leaves may be done by hand or using a blender, and they can also be made into tea. The therapies that are now available are very costly, and some of them need blood transfusions. It is only treatable by a stem cell or bone marrow transplant; however, because of the inherent dangers, this treatment option is very uncommon.
The research was conducted as a part of a project at Aberystwyth University that was examining the scientific efficiency of herbal and traditional treatments. The project, which has also aimed at helping develop new antibiotics to combat the increasing issue of antimicrobial resistance, also included the study.
The findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.