Extracts of Phyllanthus niruri L., collected from three different areas in the Congo (Kisantu, Kimwenza and University of Kinshasa), used for malaria treatment were tested in vitro in order to evaluate their antiplasmodial properties. Whereas the whole plant is traditionally used, aqueous extracts of the various parts of the P. niruri plant (stems, leaves and roots) tested on the chloroquine-resistant strain FcM29-Cameroon showed that only the leaves and the stems presented real in vitro antiplasmodial activity without any cytotoxicity. This information is particularly important because the leaves are affordable and their use is less damaging to plant stocks.
Malaria is a public health problem in tropical and subtropical regions. WHO estimates the number of clinical cases to be between 300 and 500 million, with more than 2 million deaths annually (WHO, 2003). The search for new antimalarial drugs with new modes of action is urgently needed and the ethno-pharmacological approach is a very interesting resource by which new therapies may be discovered.