A new study suggests that some homemade soups – made of chicken, beef or vegetables — might help fight malaria.
Jake Baum of the Imperial College London led the research.
He asked children at a London school to bring in homemade clear soups that their families would make to treat a fever.
The children were from many different cultural backgrounds.
The soups were then exposed to the parasite that creates 99.7 percent of malaria cases in Africa, the World Health Organization, WHO, explained.
Of the 56 soups tested, five were more than 50 percent effective in containing the growth of the parasite.
Two were as effective as one drug now used to treat malaria.
And four soups were more than 50 percent effective at preventing parasites from aging to the point that they could infect mosquitoes that spread the disease.
Baum and his team reported their results recently in the publication Archives of Disease in Childhood.
When we started getting soups that worked — in the lab under very restricted conditions— we were really happy and excited, Baum said in an email to Agence France Presse.
Baum also noted that it was unclear which foods made the soups effective against malaria.
If we were serious about going back and finding the...ingredient, like good scientists, we'd have to do it in a very standardized way, he said.
The soups came from families from different ethnic histories, including Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
They had several main ingredients, including chicken, beef and green vegetables.
Baum said the vegetarian soups showed similar results to the soups with meat.
Baum said his aim was in part to show children that scientific research can turn an herbal cure into a man-made medicine.