Soup instead of pills: traditional soup protects against malaria

Soup instead of pills: traditional soup protects against malaria

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Natural active ingredient against malaria discovered in traditional soups

An English research team looked outside the box of chemical agents and discovered a natural ingredient in traditional soups that effectively protects against malaria.

Researchers at Imperial College London examined several soup broths that were prepared according to traditional family recipes. The team discovered that certain ingredients prevent the dangerous malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum from growing. The results were recently published in the specialist journal "Archives of Disease in Childhood".

Plasmodium falciparum: the most dangerous malaria parasite

The dangerous tropical disease malaria is triggered by plasmodia. These are unicellular parasites that are transmitted primarily by the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite is the most dangerous for humans. It triggers the increasingly complicated malaria tropica, which is characterized by irregular fever. Around 99 percent of all malaria deaths are due to Plasmodium falciparum infection.

Traditional recipes against malaria

The investigated soup recipes have been passed on for generations to treat fever within families from several countries. The five most effective soups were able to dampen the growth of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum by more than 50 percent. According to the researchers, the two most effective soups are comparable in their effects to the leading malaria drug dihydroartemisinin.

Malaria medicine from Chinese medicinal herbs

Soup for malaria? What sounds far-fetched at first seems much more logical when you look at the origin of the drug dihydroartemisinin. An active ingredient in the malaria drug is artemisinin, which has been isolated from the traditional Chinese medicinal plant mugwort. Similar agents appear to appear in the soup when mugwort is used as an ingredient.

Several recipes were effective

The recipes for the broths were completely different. They ranged from vegetable soup to chicken broth to beef soup. In order to make the exact active ingredient component tangible, however, further research is necessary.

200 million people affected by malaria

"Malaria kills more than 400,000 people a year and infects more than 200 million people worldwide," explains research director Professor Jake Baum. At the same time, resistance to existing drugs on the front line continues to increase. Special care should therefore be taken to ensure that natural remedies such as artemisinin do not disappear from the scene.

Rediscovered remedies

"It is really interesting to find possible ways for future drug development in something like your grandmother's soup," emphasizes the professor. Another example is the underestimated healing power of Moro carrot soup, which is effective against diarrheal diseases. The effectiveness of the soup has been known for over 100 years, but the underlying mechanism has only recently been deciphered in another study. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Imperial College London: Scientists and schoolkids find family soups have antimalarial properties (accessed: November 19, 2019),

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