Plasmodium species cause a parasitic disease known as malaria. This disease can be transmitted when infected mosquitos bite an uninfected person. 1,2
When the parasites enter the body, they migrate to the liver and can remain there for one year. After the parasites have matured, they leave the liver and target red blood cells (i.e. they get infected). Malaria infection causes a high fever and shaking chills. Furthermore, malaria parasites are resistant to the most common drugs that are used to treat patients suffering from the disease. Malaria is primarily found in tropical- and subtropical climates and may be fatal without medical attention.3
Signs and symptoms of malaria typically begin within a few weeks after the bite from an infected mosquito. However, some type of malaria parasites can lie dormant in the body for up to a year. Malaria infection may be experienced as cycles of attacks with symptoms increasing and decreasing.
Primary signs of malaria infection may be:3
- High fever
- Nausea and purging
- Muscle pain
Some malaria infections are so urgent and aggressive that they must be treated as a medical emergency. For example, cerebral malaria infection is considered a medical emergency as it may cause:4
- Abnormal behavior
- Impaired consciousness
- Seizures and/or coma
- Neurologic abnormalities
The transmission cycle of the mosquito helps explain why malaria is still present in tropical- and subtropical climates and how the infection spreads.3
- An infected human transmits malaria parasites to an uninfected mosquito
- The mosquito is now infected and can transmit and spread malaria parasites through its bites
- When the mosquito transmits its malaria parasite to humans, the parasites travel to the liver where it can lie dormant for up to 1 year
- As malaria parasites develop and mature they leave the liver and begin to infect red blood cells. In this stage, symptoms of malaria typically start to develop
- When malaria parasites have infected red blood cells, malaria patients can transmit the virus to an uninfected mosquito, starting the cycle again.
- It is noteworthy that malaria infection can be transmitted from mother to unborn child, through blood transfusions and injections with contaminated needles.
Preclinical data proposes that the cannabinoids THC and CBD may be therapeutic in the treatment of malaria. Especially CBD may potentially be beneficial in the treatment of malaria infections as CBD may possess neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.5
In a cerebral malaria model, it was shown that CBD has neuroprotective properties and might produce beneficial effects as an adjunctive therapy to prevent neurological symptoms following this disease.6
Note: If you have any further information relevant to the connection between Malaria and cannabinoids, or find any of the information inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete please contact us here.