The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Benefits of vitamin A and zinc on malaria

     Researchers report positive effects when vitamin A and zinc were given to young children from the country of Burkina Faso in West Africa.

    First, the details.

    • 150 children aged from 6 to 72 months were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
      • Vitamin A 200 000 IU + elemental zinc 10 mg
      • Placebo
    • Treatment was given 6 days a week for 6 months.
    • The researchers and children were unaware of the treatment given — double-blind.
    • Children were evaluated daily for fever.
    • Microscopic examination of blood was done in the case of fever (37.5°C or higher) for malaria parasite detection.

    And, the results.

    • At the end of the study there was a significant 34% decrease in the prevalence of malaria in the vitamin A + zinc group vs 4% decrease in the placebo group.
    • There was a significant 30% reduction in malaria episodes in the vitamin A + zinc group.
    • Time to first malaria episode was significantly delayed in the vitamin A + zinc group.
    • The vitamin A + zinc group also had 22% fewer episodes of fever than the placebo group — a significant difference.

    The bottom line?
    The authors concluded, “Combined vitamin A plus zinc supplementation reduces the risk of fever and clinical malaria episodes among children, and thus may play a key role in malaria control strategies for children in Africa.”

    Children and adults living in malaria-endemic areas often have malnutrition and deficiencies in micronutrients such as vitamin A and zinc — a situation that creates a complexity of interactions with serious health consequences.

    The results from earlier studies reviewed by the authors suggest that vitamin A and zinc given alone have produced benefit. Both are essential for normal immune function. Consequently, combining them might lead to enhanced immunity against the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum — the most common source of life-threatening malaria, and the cause of over a million deaths every year.

    9/16/08 18:11 JR

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