Introduction: Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania are the causative agents of leishmaniasis. Clinical manifestations of leishmaniasis in humans range from mild cutaneous lesions to fatal visceral involvement. This study was done to evaluate the therapeutic effects of seven herbal drugs, namely Eucalyptus globulus, Myrtus communis, Ferula gumosa, Artemisia herbaalba, Artemisia dracunculus, Allium sativum and Urtica dioica, on cutaneous leishmaniasis, caused by L. major.
Methods: Leishmania major (MRHO/IR/76/ER) amastigotes taken from active lesions were subcutaneously injected into the lab mice (promastigotes isolated from the RPMI medium could also be used). The animals were randomly divided into three groups:1) test group, which were treated by the use of the aforementioned herbs administered locally, twice a day, 2) control 1 which received no treatment and 3) control 2 or placebo group receiving ethanol 96◦ which was the solvent of the essence or extracts. After the formation of lesions, which took 1 to 3 months following leishmania inoculation, the specimens were prepared, the number of amastigotes was counted and the diameters of the lesions were measured. The treatment was continued for a month. At the end of the treatment period the lesions were sampled and their diameters were measured.
Results: The results showed that among the studied herbs, the essences of Eucalyptus globulus and Artemisia dracunculus reduced the diameter of lesions or caused small lesions to disappear completely. There was also a remarkable reduction in the number of parasites, leading to their complete omission in some cases. In the placebo and control groups no change was noticed in the size of the lesions or the number of parasites.
Conclusion: The essences of Eucalyptus globulus and Artemisia dracunculus are effective drugs for healing cutaneous leishmania lesions. In order to find the effective substance in these essences, further investigations are recommended.
Hakim Research Journal 2007 10(2): 21-27.