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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Why you can’t take blood tonic when treating malaria

Because of our penchant for self-medication, you have probably seen someone enter the pharmacy to request for a combination of anti-malaria medication and blood tonic. Or, is that you?

According to researchers, in sub-Saharan countries like Nigeria, malaria and malaria-associated anaemia are major public health problems, but experts agree that, that is no reason to use blood tonic when treating malaria, as you will find out in this eye-opening article.

As shared by experts at online platform Solutions to Medical Problems, most blood tonic contains iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and other supplements like L-lysine, nicotinamide, follicle acid, etc. Consequently, when you use anti-malaria medication along with blood tonic, antimalarial activity of Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is reduced drastically by the concomitant use of blood tonic and multivitamins.

ACT is the common arthemether/lumemfantrime anti-malaria medication in Nigeria.

As explained by Dr. Patience Okon, when an individual develops malaria, the malaria parasites destroy the patient’s red blood cells, after which they begin to feast on the iron in the blood. This activity enables them to multiply.

“Consequently, when a malarial patient takes blood tonic (which contains iron) along with the anti-malarial medication, they are indirectly feeding the parasites and helping them to multiply.

“The best thing to do is for the patient to first finish the anti-malarial treatment before they start using the blood tonic, if necessary.

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“Suffice to say, everything must be under the supervision of a competent medical personnel,” Okon said.

The same goes with combining Vitamin C with anti-malarial drugs, as illustrated in this case study: The patient came down with malaria and he began self-medication with an ACT (Artemisinin-based combination therapy like Artesunate) as well as Vitamin C tablets.

Three days later, there was no improvement, but his case rather got worse. The patient consulted the doctor, who quickly corrected the medications and told him to stop taking the Vitamin C. The patient’s condition improved in a matter of days. What happened?

Artemisinin compounds such as Artemether, when taken into the body, are broken down into radicals. These radicals act against the plasmodium parasites that cause the malaria.

Vitamin C, however, mops up free radicals from the body on a normal day.

“Our body produces free radicals, which are quite important for normal functioning. Too much of these radicals is not good for us, and Vitamin C and other antioxidants (iron, Vitamin E) help to balance the radicals in the body.

“However, there should be a balance between the amount of free radicals in the body and antioxidants (vitamins E and C and iron).

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“Taking ACTm with multivitamin supplements containing Vitamin E or C, or both, would make ACTm unavailable for complete action and effect,” physicians warn.

In all, they recommend that, for an individual with both malaria and malaria-associated anaemia, the malaria should first be cleared with an effective antimalarial drug, before the anaemia, if it still persists, is treated with iron.

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