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More herbs with possible anti- HIV activities identified

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor (Head Insight Team, Science & Technology) |   03 December 2015   |   12:29 am  

AS Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark the World AIDS Day on Tuesday December 1, 2015, researchers have validated more medicinal plants with possible anti-Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) activities.

Top on the list are: guava, neem tree, garlic, lemon, and scent leaf.

Before now, researchers had verified the efficacy of garlic, ginger (Zingiber officinarum), cloves (Syzigium aromaticum), thyme, cayenne, basil, Aloe vera, neem tree (Azadiratcha indica), lemon, lemon grass in the treatment of opportunistic infections associated with the HIV/ AIDS.

Researchers from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, were led by Alqasim Abdullahi Mustapha, found: “This review deals with the selective medicinal plants having anti- HIV properties, which could be further produce retroviral drugs.”

The study titled “Medicinal plants with possible anti- HIV activities: A Review” was published recently in International Journal of Medicinal Plants.

The researchers wrote: “Medicinal plants have been used to maintain the health and vitality of individuals for centuries. Plants with their bioactive compounds are also used as an alternative medicine for treating HIV/AIDS.

“HIV is a terrible virus characterised by attacking the human immune system, which makes the immune cells weak and unable to fight against it thereby leading to illness which slowly replicate and manifest to AIDS. Various inexpensive and effective compounds derived from medicinal plants have been isolated as anti- HIV agents. These bioactive compounds are formulated with a vision to create effectual drugs against HIV/AIDS. Some of the principal molecules isolated from different medicinal plants are at present in use to treat HIV/AIDS, its opportunistic infections and side effects associated with Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) drugs. These possible and successful anti- HIV molecules include flavonoid, betulinic acid, (+) – catechin, bergenin and C- galloylglycoside, et cetera.”

Kashman and co- workers in early 1990’s isolated natural product isolated (+)-calanolide A from a tropical rain forest plant of the species Calophyllum lanigerum, which has been reported to possess activity against wild-type HIV-1. Additional findings lead to isolate anti- HIV products from plants like
Acer okamotoanum, Ancistrocladus korupensis, Rhus chinensis, Peltophorum africanum, Hypoxis hemerocallidea, Psidium guajava (guava), and Sutherlandia frutescens have established possible anti- HIV bio- active ingredients which includes flavonoid gallate ester, Michellamines A and B, benzofuranone- type compound, (+)-catechin, flavonoids, bergenin, C- galloyglycoside, betulinic acid, beta- sitosterol, stigmasterol, ascorbic acid, carotenoids including lycopene, beta- carotene, and beta- cryptoxanthin, D-pinitol GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) and L-canavanine respectively which might be possible reason they possess anti- HIV activities.

There is a possibility of HIV vaccine creation as advances in the clinical researches for anti- HIV agent in plants has increased over the years. Hence, important organic compounds presents in plants could overstate to reduce side effects associated with the use of anti- retroviral drugs such as hepatotoxicity, hyperglycaemia, hyperlipidaemia, lactic acidosis, lipodystrophy, osteonecrosis, osteopenia, osteoporosis and mild skin rashes. This review describes medicinal plants containing anti- HIV properties that would generously play an important role in the discovery of novel anti- HIV drugs.

Possible plants, which could be evaluated for powerful anti- HIV compounds in upcoming days include among others:
Acorus calamus

Acorus calamus L. is of the family Acoraceae. Commonly called Sweet flag, it is also known as vasa bach in Hindi traditional medicine. It has been widely used as a laxative, carminative, diuretic and sedative. In addition, it is one of the herbs usually used in Ayurveda formulae prescribed for hallucinations and other neurological conditions. The major pharmacological constituents of A. calamus in the rhizome and leave portion of the plant are alkaloids, tannin, carbohydrates, Palmitic acid, glycoside and linoleic acid. Presence of the pharmacological ingredients like tannin, palmitic acid, alkaloid and glycoside could be possible for the anti- HIV activity of the plant. The rhizome extract of A. calamus is shown to inhibit HIV-1 reverse transcriptase activity.
Allium sativum

Allium sativum L. is a bulbous plant, which belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae. It is commonly known as garlic in English, Tàfánnúúwáá in Hausa, arngalaa-re in Fulani. The various parts of the plant are used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, hypertension, colds, cough, digestive ailment, parasites, tuberculosis, dysentery, diabetes and rheumatism. Some of the biochemical ingredient of A. sativum includes flavonoids, peptides, phenols, terpenoids and steroids. These ingredients are responsible for various biological activities by the plant, which includes antimicrobial, antibiotic, antifungal, anti- cholesterol and antiviral activities. Ajoene, allicin, allyl methyl thiosulfinate and methyl allyl thiosulfinate are compounds found in oil- macerates of A. sativum, which is reported to possess high level of antiviral activities. Tsai and co- workers report an In vitro effect of A. sativum against influenza B, herpes simplex and coxsackie viruses.

Extract of A. sativum was also used against human rhinovirus type 2, para-influenza virus type 3, herpes simplex virus type 2, vesicular stomatitis virus, vaccinia virus and cytomegalovirus. A. sativum was reported to be effective against HIV infection by inhibiting virus replication, specifically by interfering with viral reverse transcriptase activity.
Azadirachta indica

Azadirachta indica belongs to the family Meliaceae. It is commonly known as Neem tree in English, Dóógón yááròò in Hausa, and ganyi in Fulani. It is has been used as an important traditional folklore medicine in West Africa for thousands of years. It is extensively found all over Northern part of Nigeria, as well as other part of Nigeria, Africa including South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon and other parts of the world including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma, Australia, South, North and Central America.

The biochemical Limonoids present in A. indica has some bio- active constituent including azadirachtin, 3-tigloylazadirachtol, I-tigloyl-3-acetyl-II-methoxyazadirachtin, 22, 3-acetyl-salannoV nimbidioV margocin, margocinin, margocilin, 3-deacetyl-3-cinnamoyl azadirachtin, 23-dihydro-23
β-methoxyazadirachtin, nimbanal et cetera and Terpenes which includes isoazadirolide, methylgrevillate, nibonolone, Margosinone, nimbonone and 6 nimbocinolide. It is a source of anti-bacterial, anti-malarial, anti- fungal and anti- retroviral. I

A. indica has been used in the treatment of clinical conditions associated with dermatological disorders like skin diseases and inflammation, arthritic disorders, rheumatism, fever and diabetes. Parida and co- workers reported that an aqueous extract of A. indica leaves inhibit Dengue virus type-2 both in- vitro and in- vivo.

Another study showed that hydroacetone extract of A. indica leaves has anti-retroviral and immune- modulatory activities. Clinical trial done by two independent research group showed that fractionated acetone-water leaves extract of A. indica inhibited the invasion of human lymphocytes by HIV-I in vitro, and caused significant improvement in CD4+ (a marker for the immune system) cell count in a small number of HIV/AIDS patients.

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