A group of second year Medical students from the city of Cebu, Philippines were doing observation clinic in one of the Government hospitals in the city in the middle of the Dengue outbreak. As they took history from one patient to another, they noticed a common sighting in the patients' bedside, a brownish; tea colored concoction in a mineral water bottle caught their attention. The future then asked the patients what it was and they were amazed. It was an extract made from an herb known as "mangagaw" or scientifically known as Euphorbia hirta. All these patients claim that the plant extracts increase platelet. Having scanned their books, the students knew that there was no treatment for Dengue but IV fluids and close monitoring of physical and hematological status of the patients. With over 4 children dying everyday on the third day of the outbreak, the students came up with one future agenda. They have found their research project; to determine the thrombogenic or platelet increasing property of Euphorbia hirta to the efforts of preventing the deadly complications of Dengue.
The group started with a search for similar studies and studies made about the Euphorbia hirta. The search resulted with only one study, a BS Biology student from the University of the Philippines, Cebu who made a study about the plant by giving the "mangagaw" extract orally to mice and testing their blood platelet count. He claimed that he noted an increase platelet count on the mice but later discovered that mice have normally higher platelet counts compared to humans and there was no significant difference on the platelet counts of control mice that were not given the concoction.
Dengue is probably one of the leading causes of death in children in the Philippines. It is caused by the Dengue Virus which is transmitted by a mosquito vector known as the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The incubation period of this deadly disease is 4-5 days from the time bitten by the mosquito. Dengue may present as a simple cough and colds symptoms, flu like symptoms or simply fever and muscle pains. Dengue fever has 3 entities or types: The Dengue Fever, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome. The Classical Dengue Fever is characterized by low to moderate fever, muscle pains and body malaise. On the third or fifth day of illness, the fever would subside. This is considered as the most critical stage wherein thrombocytopenia or decreasing of platelets occurs. In this type, the disease is usually self-limited after 6-7 days since it is a viral infection or in some cases progresses to the severe type. The Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever is a more severe type of Dengue. It could either be a progression from the classical dengue fever or a direct infection. It presents with low to moderate grade fever for 3-5 days and eventually, as the virus invades the capillary wall making this microvasculature highly permeable. Leakage of intravascular fluid follows as well as the platelets. This explains the thrombocytopenia. The severity of capillary wall damage then causes the rupture and is manifested by the sudden and intense bleeding in this type. The Dengue Shock Syndrome is the result or the end product of the complications from the hemorrhagic type. The intense loss of blood from the bleeding caused by the rupture of the vessels leads to hypotension and shock. The hemorrhagic and the shock types of Dengue have very poor prognosis.
The Euphorbia hirta plant, commonly known as the famous Mangagaw plant is believed to be the herbal remedy of dengue fever. All the pharmacologic properties of this plant are purely hearsays and undocumented. No studies were made about this plant yet but it being used by common people through extracts when suspecting dengue even with the warning of the local health authorities regarding the verification of the plant's medicinal properties. The Euphorbia hirta is believed to have an immune-enhancing effect, an anti-histaminic effect and a thrombogenic effect.
Determining The Thrombogenic Effect Of Euphorbia Hirta Plant Concoction To Mice
The group decided to continue or to more or less do the same procedure done by the previous research on Euphorbia hirta since the other option which was using the patients in the hospitals as the population for blood testing, was not possible due the rules and regulations of the research commission. Eight normal and healthy mice with identical sizes were then collected. Baseline platelet counts were taken from each mouse. Four were the control and were not given the concoction while the other four were the subjects and each was given 10cc of the concoction per day in 5 equal settings in a period of 3 days. After the third day, platelet count was taken from each of the mouse. The platelet counts of the subject mice were then compared to the platelet counts of the control mice.
The group noted that after the experiment, the eight mice appeared healthy and active. Regarding the platelet counts, there was no significant difference of the platelet counts from the subject mice in comparison with the control mice. Having confirmed the results and data gathered from the experiment, the researchers then concluded: "Euphorbia hirta has no thrombogenic effect or platelet-increasing effect on mice."
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