EFFECTIVE not only against venom, but also against dengue.

Such is the new use of tea extracted from tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta), a plant traditionally used to cure boils, wounds, bronchitis, sores, asthma, and hypertension, said Rafael Guerrero III, an academician from the National Academy of Science and Technology.

“Tawa-tawa has been a traditional herbal medicine for centuries in countries not only in Asia, but also in the Caribbean, South America and Africa,” Guerrero told the Varsitarian by email.

He added that studies have shown that tawa-tawa, found in the Davao and Leyte areas, is effective in increasing the blood’s platelet count, which would help the body fight dengue fever.

Pharmacy graduates Jeriz Natividad, Hazel Lopez, Toni Ann Marie Luna, Rachelle Manalo, and Clarisse Ngo conducted a study in 2009 about the efficacy of tawa-tawa in curing dengue.

“In our research about the tawa-tawa plant, we found out that there was an increase in the platelet count,” said Natividad in an online interview.

Their research—titled “A study on the Mechanism of Platelet Increasing Activity of the Decoction and Ethanolic Extraction of Euphorbia hirta L. (Euphorbiaceae) as treatment for dengue”—found out that platelet production in the bone marrow is stimulated by the plant’s enzymes, which raises platelet count in the blood.

This elliptical-shaped plant has chemical compounds called phytochemicals that yield alkaloids (compounds mainly composed of nitrogen atoms), oils, and fatty acids proven to be helpful in curing dengue by rehydrating the patient.

“Drinking the tawa-tawa tea helps in hydrating dengue patients, and has an anti-viral effect as shown in vitro tests of researchers of the Industrial Technology Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology,” said Guerrero.

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He added that tawa-tawa tea “has no side -effects” and have anti-pyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.

The anti-pyretic property of Euphorbia hirta causes the hypothalamus to override the body’s metabolism and lower the temperature. The process fortifies the immune system to overcome the fever.

The analgesic property of tawa-tawa, on the other hand, eliminates the pain brought by the dengue virus by acting as an anesthetic, with morphine-like effects, to numb the body while eliminating the pain-inducing toxins from the body. 

Other than the anti-pyretic and analgesic capabilities of the said plant, it also has natural enzymes that stabilize the membranes of blood vessels, thus preventing internal bleeding.

“[However,] until well-controlled clinical studies are conducted, tawa-tawa as a dengue cure cannot be officially recommended by medical doctors,” said Guerrero.

In UST, 18 cases of dengue had been reported to the Health Service as of September 21, 22 cases in August, 14 in July, and 11 in the first month of classes.

They admitted a total of 54 dengue patients since the start of the academic year, and the latest figures show a doubled number of dengue victims during the rainy months. F. E. M. P. FLORES

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