Research Highlight

Indian plant extract may help combat malaria

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.64 Published online 20 May 2016

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), a perennial bunchgrass native to India, may find use in the treatment of chloroquine resistant malaria, according to a new study1.

Popularly known as khus grass or miracle grass, vetiver has been traditionally used in the treatment of mouth ulcers, fever, and urinary tract infections and is also the source of vetiver oil used in perfumery. Researchers report that a hexane bioactive fraction obtained from its roots shows anti-malarial activity. "To the best of our knowledge, vetiver root extract (VET) has not so far been reported for its anti-malarial activity," the authors say.

Currently, artemisinin and its derivatives are the preferred drugs for treating malaria, one of the most extensively used derivatives being arteether (ART). The researchers set out to assess the anti-malarial property of VET individually and in combination with ART. In experiments with mice infected with a strain of multi-drug resistant malaria parasite, they have have shown that the anti-malarial potential of ART was considerably enhanced by VET. VET in combination with ART (1000 mg/kg) for five days was found to offer 100% cure whereas ART alone gave only 30% cure, establishing the synergizing effect of ART-VET combination.

Mice treated with the combination lived longer compared to the groups that were treated with either ART or VET. "The synergism is reported for the first time,” the report says.

The authors of this work are from: Central Drug Research Institute, Central Institute for Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University. 


1. Dhawan, S. et al. Potentiation of antimalarial activity of arteether in combination with Vetiver root extract. Ind. J. Exp. Biol. 34, 315-321 (2016)