Pharmacy: Tawa-tawa leaves for dengue

Characterized by a sudden onset of high fever, nose bleeding, and low platelet count, dengue hemorrhagic fever is an acute infection affecting many Filipinos.

In a report released last April by the Regional Office for the Western Pacific of the World Health Organization, 39,620 dengue cases with 373 fatalities were reported in the country 2008.

To help solve the problem, Pharmacy students Jeriz Anne Natividad, Hazel Lopez, Toni Ann Marie Luna, Rachelle Manalo, Jeriz Natividad and Clarisse Ngo conducted “A study on the Mechanism of Platelet Increasing Activity of the Decoction and Ethanolic Extraction of Euphorbia hirta L. (Euphorbiaceae) as treatment for dengue.”

The researchers proposed a new treatment to increase platelet count, which is normally achieved through platelet transfusion from blood donors. Instead, the study used the extract of Euphorbia hirta, commonly known as tawa-tawa. The plant is believed to possess a property that increases platelets.

“We want (an) alternative that will not be expensive and time-consuming since platelet transfusion demands platelet compatibility testing prior to patient transfusion. Our alternative is cheaper and more natural since transfusion is no longer needed,” Lopez told the Varsitarian.

The researchers subjected tawa-tawa’s leaves to decoction, a method of extraction performed through boiling. Tawa-tawa’s platelet-increasing activity was tested on laboratory experimental rats, specifically Sprague-Dawley.

According to Lopez, results of the study showed that the tawa-tawa extract was effective in increasing the platelet count of rats without notable effects in red blood cell and white blood cell counts.

The group also concluded that the platelet increasing property of tawa-tawa works through the stimulation of platelet production in the bone marrow.

The project was submitted by the group to the National Research Council of the Philippines and won first prize in Cluster III-Division of Medical, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences in the body’s 76th General Membership Assembly.

“We wanted our research to be timely, unique and public health-oriented (to) benefit the Thomasian community and the country,” said Lopez. J.A.G. Ambanta



Study on tawa-tawa plant wins best HS student research paper

A total of eight teams from three high schools in the city – St Mary’s School, Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) and Xavier University High School (XUHS) – performed their investigatory projects based on researchable areas identified by agribusiness industries.

The second best research went to XUHS for the study on the “Preliminary Screening of Tabon-tabon Fruit Extract (Hydrophytune orbiculatum) for Antimicrobial Activities, and third place was awarded to the “Production of Soil Moisture Detector” by the team from MOGCHS.

Dean Ravanera, in his message during the presentation of the researches, shared that “the outcomes [of the project] are very encouraging” underscoring the potential of high school students in communicating science to all.

The grand prize winners from St Mary’s School, namely Frances Mae Gumapon, Maria Kenosis Emmanuelle Lachica, Melissa Tamara Argayoso and Marlo Karlo Carrsco received a cash prize of P5,000.  The other winners from XUHS and MOGCHS received P3,000 and P2,000 respectively

One of the researcher of the winning team who conducted a study on Tawa-Tawa explained a part of their methodology, ” blood samples were taken from the mice but cutting off a part of their tails. Yes,…the vet herself suggested this method. Then, these samples were checked for platelet count before the mice took in the euphorbia hirta L. tea. Then, the mice were tested again for platelet count after they took in tawa-tawa three times a day for a month…The mice had an average platelet count before they took in tawa-tawa and they just produced even more platelets after they took in tawa-tawa.”



Thrombocytopenia and Asthma Weed “Tawa-Tawa”

Dengue fever can cause thrombocytopenia by direct infection of bone marrow megakaryocytes as well as immunological shortened platelet survival. Tawa-Tawa or Asthma weed  had been popular among dengue fever victims due to its profound properties on increasing low blood platelet count which is one of the symptoms of this serious viral infection.

Learn more about Dengue-Aid Tawa-Tawa Capsule and Tawa Tawa Herbal Plant

Often, low platelet levels do not lead to clinical problems; rather, they are picked up on a routine full blood count (or CBC, complete blood count). Occasionally, there may be bruising, particularly purpura in the forearms, petechia (pinpoint hemorrhages on skin and mucous membranes), nosebleeds and/or bleeding gums.

It is vital that a full medical history is elicited, to ensure the low platelet count is not due to a secondary process. It is also important to ensure that the other blood cell types, such as red blood cells and white blood cells, are not also suppressed. Painless, round and pinpoints (1 to 3 mm in diameter), petechiae usually appear and fade, and sometimes group to form ecchymoses.

Read more about Thrombocytopenia