Antimalarial natural products: a review

Document Type : Review Article


Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center (PSRC) and School of Pharmacy, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I. R. Iran


Objective: Malaria is an infectious disease commonplace in tropical countries. For many years, major antimalarial drugs consisted of natural products, but since 1930s these drugs have been largely replaced with a series of synthetic drugs. This article tries to briefly indicate that some plants which previously were used to treat malaria, as a result of deficiencies of synthetic drugs, have revived into useful products once more. It also attempts to describe some tests which can be used to evaluate plant extracts for antimalarial activity.
Materials and Methods: By referring to some recent literatures, data were collected about plants used for the treatment of malaria, evaluation of plant extracts for antimalarial activity, modes of action of natural antimalarial agents, and recent research on antimalarial plants in Iran and other countries.
Results and Conclusion: There is an urgent need for the development of new treatments for malaria. Many countries have a vast precedence in the use of medicinal plants and the required knowledge spans many centuries. Although malaria is controlled in Iran, some researchers tend to study malaria and related subjects. In vitro biological tests for the detection of antimalarial activities in plant extracts are currently available. It is vital that the efficacy and safety of traditional medicines be validated and their active constituents be identified in order to establish reliable quality control measures.