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Mix of moringa and lemons won’t cure elephantiasis

A Facebook post shared in Nigeria claims a mixture of lemons and the leaf, bark and roots of the moringa tree is a remedy for elephantiasis.

It shows a photo of people with badly swollen legs – a sign of the disease.

The post uses the scientific name for the moringa, Moringa oleifera. “Pound all the ingredients … without adding water,” it says. “Extract the juice and store it in a plastic container. Dry the particles from the crushed ingredients.” 

The post says to crush the dried particles into a powder and “drink a teaspoon of the powder with lukewarm water in the morning and evening”.  It also says to soak cotton wool in the extracted juice and using this to “massage the feet” three times a day. 

What is elephantiasis?

Elephantiasis, also called lymphatic filariasis, is a neglected tropical disease caused by parasites passed on to people by mosquitos. It damages the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of parts of the body.

The swelling of the limbs and scrotum is “painful and profoundly disfiguring”, according to the World Health Organization. “These patients are not only physically disabled, but suffer mental, social and financial losses contributing to stigma and poverty.”

Could a mixture of moringa and lemon bring relief?

No fast treatment

“The mixture in the claim cannot treat elephantiasis,” Mohammed Baba Ardo, a professor of veterinary public health and epidemiology at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology in Yola, Nigeria, told Africa Check. 

“Elephantiasis is a viral infection caused by roundworm larvae. If any symptoms are noticed, like swelling of the leg, pains or even fever, the person should see an expert in virology.

“The expert would then give a supportive therapy depending on the prognosis of the infection. These treatments sometimes take a long process, especially when the larvae have matured in one’s lymph system.” – Jennifer Ojugbeli


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