Chemical constituents and biological activity of medicinal plants used for the management of sickle cell disease - A review

Author(s): Kunle OF, Egharevba HO


Since 1910 when sickle cell disease was first reported by Dr. James Herrick and the subsequent characterization by Linus Pauling who hypothesized on the nature of sickle cell haemoglobin (HbS) and its role in sickle cell anemia in 1952, the cure and treatment for the disease has remained a challenge for the entire humanity, with millions of sufferers around the world, and the attendant negative social economic impact. With a current sickle cell trait (healthy carriers who have inherited the mutant gene from only one parent) prevalence of between 10 to 40% across equatorial Africa, 1 to 2% on the North African coast and < 1% in South Africa, current orthodox treatment regimens continue to give unsatisfactory outcome. The use of herbal remedies especially in the developing or low income countries has made treatment more affordable and accessible, and thus, appears to be yielding some positive prospect in drug development, especially with the development of NIPRISANTM in 1997 by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Nigeria. Most of these herbal remedies exploit the combined pharmacological activities of medicinal and aromatic plants widely available in the tropics. Such pharmacologic activities include antioxidant, anti-inflammation, antipyretic, antidehydration, ion-chelating, etc. This review exposed the knowledge-gaps in the chemical constituents of these plants and suggests areas of further research and development focus.

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