Samoan biologist Dr. Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni and Cook Island Māori research fellow Dr. Helen Woolner have found the leaves of the matalafi tree, or psychotria insularum, works as effectively as ibuprofen.
Their paper shares a decade of research into matalafi, used in Samoa for generations to treat inflammation caused by fever, swelling, wounds, elephantiasis, respiratory infections, and skin infections, among other issues.
The team discovered that matalafi is an iron chelator, meaning it binds to iron. This iron chelation makes matalafi a candidate for further biological and chemical research into potential treatments for cancer, Parkinson's, or other neurodegenerative diseases.
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