Herbal remedies for hepatitis endorsed
Nigeria on Tuesday July 28, 2015, joined the rest of the world to mark the World Hepatitis Day. However, scientists have demonstrated how extracts of bitter leaf, bitter kola, garlic, Phyllanthus amarus, avocado, and turmeric offer protection against hepatitis B and C. CHUKWUMA MUANYA writes.
Scientists have demonstrated how natural remedies provide cheaper route to prevention and treatment of hepatitis B and C, and indeed liver damage in the country. Top on the list are: bitter leaf, Phyllanthus amarus, avocado, turmeric, garlic, and bitter kola.
No fewer than 20 million Nigerians are reported to be living with hepatitis B and C (inflammation of the liver), and over five million are already chronically ill with liver cirrhosis or cancer. The viral infections are said to be 100 times more infectious than Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Conventionally the virus can only be contained by vaccination, mass screening, and treatment. But the government is not forthcoming in performing these life saving measures probably because of the huge cost implication of screening over 100 million people and treating over 25 million that are infected.
Phyllanthus amarus belongs to the plant family Euphorbiaceae. To the Efik it is called oyomokeso amanke edem; geeron-tsuntsaayee (birds millet) in Hausa; Ibo (Asaba) buchi oro, Ibo (Umuahia) ngwu; iyeke in Urhobo; and ehin olobe or eyin olobe in Yoruba.
Botanically called Persea americana, avocado is also commonly known as avocado pear, alligator pear, or mountain pear.
Turmeric is a spice that comes from the root of Curcuma longa, a member of the ginger family, Zingaberaceae. It is called atale pupa in Yoruba; gangamau in Hausa; nwandumo in Ebonyi; ohu boboch in Enugu (Nkanu East); gigir in Tiv; magina in Kaduna; turi in Niger State; onjonigho in Cross River (Meo tribe).
Rev. Fr. Anslem Adodo of Pax Herbal Clinic, Ewu in Esan Local Government of Edo State, had said: “Bring one unripe pineapple fruit, 10 leaves of cashew plant, one handful of cotton seed, 10 bottles of water to boil together. Take one glassful four times daily for 10 days
“Secondly, grind 20 pieces of bitter-kola into fine powder, then mix with one bottle of lime juice and one bottle of honey. Take four dessertspoons four times daily for two months.
“Thirdly, squeeze 40 bitter leaves into four litres of water. Take one glassful thrice daily for two months (make fresh preparation as needed).”
Researchers had demonstrated that a regular diet including spices such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, cabbage, onion, green tea and apiaceous vegetables like carrots reverses damage caused by aflatoxin (produced by a fungus) poisoning and its complications such as liver cancer; as well as reduce breast cancer risk in women exposed to hormone replacement therapy.
Aflatoxins, are naturally occurring mycotoxins that are produced by many species of Aspergillus, a fungus/mould, most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.
Indeed, spices have been shown to protect the liver against aflatoxin poisoning, and the breast from cancer. India researchers found that food additives such as turmeric, and active ingredient curcumin (diferuloyl methane), asafoetida (flavouring agent), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ellagic acid inhibited the mutagenesis induced by aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) (0.5 g/plate) in Salmonella tester strains TA 98 and TA 100.
Also, Nigerian researchers have in clinical trials demonstrated how poly herbal preparations made predominantly with bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina) provide cure for chronic form of hepatitis B and C co-infection, cancer, type 2 diabetes and tuberculosis.
Other constituents of poly herbal preparations include: Sesamum indicatum (sesame), bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), Aloe barbadensis (popularly known as aloe vera), Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane), Allium sativum (garlic) and Amaranthus caudatus (green amaranth, inine in Ibo, tete abalaye in Yoruba).
According to The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa by H.M. Burkill, Phyllanthus amarus is a weed of cultivated land and in waste spaces. It is said to have sand-binding properties.
“It is a plant of general medicinal application. In Yorubaland it features in an incantation ‘against disease’. It is an ingredient of the agbo prescription in Lagos. An infusion of leaves is used in the Ibadan area for haemorrhoids.”
A recent study published this year in Biomedical Research strongly suggests that the therapy with Phyllanthus amarus increases antioxidants and reduces lipid peroxidation of hepatic cellular and intracellular membranes and protects liver damage due to free radicals in hepatitis-C.
Another study published in International Journal of Biology and Medical Research found that the therapy with Phyllanthus amarus increases antioxidants and reduces lipid peroxidation of hepatic cellular and intracellular membranes and protects liver damage due to free radicals in hepatitis-B.
The study focused on effect of Phyllanthus amarus therapy for protection of liver in hepatitis B through investigating liver profile enzymes, antioxidant enzymes, antioxidant vitamins and lipid peroxidation. The study consisted of 65 clinical diagnosed hepatitis B patients ranging in between age group 25 to 60 years. The control group includes 65 ages and sex matched normal healthy persons.
The study reads: “Plasma LPO levels were significantly high but activity of SOD, GPx, catalase and levels of vitamin E and vitamin C were significantly lowered in hepatitis B on comparison with controls. After Phyllanthus amarus therapy for four weeks and eight weeks plasma lipid peroxidation levels were significantly decreased and activity of SOD, GPx, catalase and vitamin E and vitamin C were significantly increased in hepatitis B.”
Also, scientists suggest that extracts of the nutritious avocado fruit (botanically called Persea americana) may be able to lessen the liver damage caused by the hepatitis viruses.
A study carried out at Shizuoka University in Japan and published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests the avocado fruit may have potential. Rats were given a chemical, which causes similar liver damage to the hepatitis viruses, and fed 22 different types of fruit to see if they made any difference.
The researchers found five compounds extracted from fruit to have a beneficial effect, and the most potent of these came from the avocado.
The scientists are still not sure whether the same effect could be found in humans, and say further studies are needed. They also have no idea how the avocado extract actually has this effect.