Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jamaica's National Flower Lignum Vitae Found to Have Bio-activity to Fight HIV

Jamaica’s national flower the Lignum Vitae has been found to contain properties that could be used to treat persons living with the Human Immune Virus, HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS, by depleting the immune systems of infected persons the researchers who worked on the discovery were led by noted Jamaican scientist and entrepreneur Dr Henry Lowe, the research team noted that the Lignum Vitae has potent bioactivity that could work against HIV.

The study outlined in part:

Aim: Jamaica is rich in medicinal plants. Guaiacum oficinale is the “National Flower”, with reported uses in folk medicine for the treatment of various conditions including inflammation. In our search for plants with anticancer and anti-infective properties, we evaluated Guaiacum oficinale for activity against HIV-1.

Methodology: The leaf, seed and twig extracts of G. oficinale were screened for anti HIV-1 properties in primary peripheral blood mononuclear cels (PBMCs) infected with the reference HIV-1 BaL strain.

Results: Al the tested extracts inhibited HIV-1 p24 production by infected cells, with EC50 concentrations of 2.35µg/ml, 23.42µg/ml and 25.04µg/ml, respectively for the leaf, seed and twig extracts. As comparison, Betulinic acid had an EC50 value of 27.50µg/ml. The tested extracts had IC50/EC50 selectivity index (SI) values of ≥ 3, which compared favorably to Betulinic acid SI value of 1.09.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that extracts of G. oficinale may provide leads for the discovery of new drug agents against HIV-1.

Dr Henry Lowe

A statement from Dr Lowe’s Environmental Health Foundation, EHF Group of Companies said that although known from last year test results were repeated several times to ensure data accuracy it says since then the findings were published April 2014 issue of the prestigious European Journal of Medicinal Plants, according to the statement since publication a significant amount of data has been developed, the work of Dr Lowe and his research team has been lauded by Dr Joseph Bryant of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland Medical School where the global viral network is located. Dr Bryant said Dr Lowe and his researchers need to be recognised and commended for bringing a gift of a major potential magic bullet from a Jamaican tree to the potential management of HIV.

The EHF Group says it is currently pursuing potential drugs from the Lignum Vitae in collaboration with the US based National Products Division of the Research Triangle International which is known for its discoveries of anti HIV drugs, based on this collaboration the EHF Group believes it is one the verge of discovering a potent major anti HIV drug from the plant, Dr Lowe who is the founder and the scientist at the Kingston based Biotech R & D Institute plans to do further research on the isolates of the Lignum Vitae this in order to develop a treatment that could be used alone or as part of a cocktail for the management of HIV/AIDS.

In the interim a nutraceutical product is being developed the EHF group says a US patent has so far been filed in order to protect this vital intellectual property.

The tree is found almost everywhere and in even dry rocky conditions, it is also available in the United States and the Caribbean but as different varieties and is a home remedy for tonsillitis by soaking the bar until the water turns red then gargle or drunk for fever, in the Virgin Islands it is used for fish poisoning and in other parts of the Caribbean for even abortion when specially prepared, it seems this plat we have here and I have no doubt many others have properties that we must explore and unearth. Some parts of Latin America use the leaves for tea to treat stomach aches or as an energy booster when soaked overnight and drunk unsweetened. It is also said to have anti bacterial properties in a subsequent interview with Dr Lowe on Nationwide radio.

He said in that interview also that it could be a potential foreign exchange earner for Jamaica.

Another household use in Jamaica is that of a makeshift broom when a few branches are tied together and is an excellent insect repeller in kitchens in a similar bunched set of green leaves and used to chase away flies and such from meats and fruits. It is rested and amongst fruits, tubers and other foods to supposedly slow down drying out of them when stored in a container or typical food basket and also chasing away fruit flies, moths that feed or surround the aforementioned. During Christmas it attracts thousands of butterflies to its purple flowers and said thousands of caterpillars can be seen on its trunk and branches as they feed prior to pupating.

the trunk often used to make a tea or broth or bark is stripped off and used separately

It seems this plant has some properties just by its natural use and the attraction or repulsion of insects and so on. Not to mention its use as a disciplinary tool for whipping but cut in very slim stick strips as it does not break easily.

Hope we can find the active properties and develop on this as an alternative for the other manufactured and still expensive antiretroviral and highly active antiretroviral therapies available and given the push on PrEP as treatment cheaper drugs are needed as Truvada locally is not so cheap and is partially distributed via the free national system.

Download the PDF file on the research HERE written by Dr Henry Lowe

Peace and tolerance



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