Livin' on the MDedge

Grading Dr. Google and treating malaria by the bowlful


Chicken soup for the malarial soul

A nice hot cup of soup: The refuge of concerned parents who managed to resist looking at Google and decided that their child’s cold wasn’t actually stage IV lung cancer. It’s good, and it’s good for you. But just how good for you? Could the healing powers of soup be harnessed to treat something like, say, malaria?

Van Tan Tran/CC0 Public Domain

The research, published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, has perhaps the most adorable setup of any study our cold, stony hearts at LOTME world headquarters have ever seen. The researchers went to a London primary school and asked a group of students to bring in homemade soup for testing and analysis. The students obliged, bringing in dozens of unique soups, of which 56 were tested for 72 hours against the deadliest malaria species, Plasmodium falciparum.

Not every soup was effective, but extracts from five broths were able to halt growth of sexually immature parasites by more than 50%, two of which were about as effective as dihydroartemisinin, a leading antimalarial drug. In addition, four other broths were more than 50% effective at blocking sexual maturation.

The researchers noted that they haven’t analyzed the ingredients of the soups yet and that the utility of soup in combating malaria will depend on a number of factors; regardless, we hope those kids got some serious extra credit. Curing malaria is way more impressive than knowing that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell.


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