Cooling the Heat - Traditional remedies for malaria and fever in Northern Peru


  • Rainer W Bussmann William L. Brown Center, MBG
  • Ashley Glenn William L. Brown Center, MBG


Medicinal Plants, Ethnobotany, anti-malaria, antipyretic, anti-plasmodial, Plasmodium


Malaria continues to be a major health challenge worldwide especially due to the increasingly fast development of resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to the drugs currently in use. 

A total of 17 plant species belonging to 17 genera and 13 families were documented and identified as anti-malarial herbal remedies in Northern Peru. Most species used were in Asteraceae, followed by Fabaceae and Solanaceae. The majority of anti-malarial herbal preparations were made from the leaves of plants, while the whole plant, flowers and stems were used less frequently. This suggests that the local healers count on a very well developed knowledge about the properties of different plant parts. In almost 70% of the cases fresh plant material was used to prepare remedies. Over half of all remedies were prepared as mixtures with multiple ingredients by boiling plant material either in water or in sugarcane spirit.

The information gained on frequently used traditional remedies against malaria might give some leads towards future targets for further analysis in order to develop new anti-malaria drugs. However, more detailed scientific studies are desperately needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the remedies employed traditionally.



Malaria todavía continua como problema de salud mayor al nivel global, especialmente por la rapidez de desarrollo de resistencias en Plasmodium falciparum a los medicamentos en uso. 

Un total de 17 especies de plantas medicinales de 17 géneros y 13 familias han sido documentadas e identificadas como plantas anti-malariales en el Norte de Perú. La mayoría de as especies pertenece a Asteraceae, Fabaceae y Solanaceae. La mayoría de las plantas preparaciones en contra de malaria fueron preparadas de las hojas de las plantas, mientras que la planta entera, flores y tallos fueron usados con menos frecuencia. Este indica que los curanderos locales tienen un conocimiento muy profundo de las propiedades de diferentes partes de las plantas. En casi 70% de los casos usaron material fresco para preparar los remedios. Casi la mitad de los remedios fueron preparados como mezcla con ingredientes múltiples en agua o aguardiente.

La información encontrado sobre remedies usados con frecuencia contra malaria pueda apoyar en encontrar nuevos posibilidades de análisis para el desarrollo de nuevos compuestos anti-malariales. Sin embargo, se necesita estudios mas detallados sobre la eficaz y la toxicidad de los remedies tradicionalmente usados.

Author Biography

Rainer W Bussmann, William L. Brown Center, MBG

Director William L. Brown Center and Wm. L. Brown Curator for Economic Botany




How to Cite

Bussmann, R. W., & Glenn, A. (2010). Cooling the Heat - Traditional remedies for malaria and fever in Northern Peru. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 8, 125–134. Retrieved from