Infectious diarrheal disease caused by lack of clean water is a major public health concern throughout developing countries. It can lead to dehydration, failure to thrive, malnutrition and death. It is a leading cause of death in children from infancy to age five. Anti-parasitic drugs are commonly used to treat these infections, but their safety is a concern. They are potentially carcinogenic when used in the high doses and with the frequency common in tropical countries. They also have questionable safety when used in children and during pregnancy. New strategies are needed to safely and effectively address these common infections.
Guava leaves and stems (Psidium guajava) are traditionally used by native Nicaraguans to treat diarrheal disease. Guava is ubiquitous in many tropical and subtropical countries. There is substantial research to suggest that guava could be an effective treatment for infectious diarrhea. Helfgott recently conducted a thorough scientific review of guava, its usage, implementation and potential economic impacts for impoverished communities. If found to be effective, it may provide a safe and cost-effective remedy for people throughout the developing world.