Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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July 17, 2004

Sweet Wormwood Heals Malaria

According to an article in The Times, a Chinese herb known as Qing Hao, sweet wormwood or artemisia annua L. is being grown massively to help end the reign of malaria, one of the major killer diseases in Africa, which has become resistant to our standard quinine-based drugs.


The extract made from the herb, artemisinin, has been shown to cut the death rate in those treated with it by 97%. The World Health Organisation says that it is the new gold standard for malaria treatment...

Farmers are converting entire valleys to an ancient crop that could save millions of lives

(original article here)


XU WEIFENG was nearly killed by raging fever when he was six years old. He lay on a cot in the mountain hut of his corn farmer parents, seemingly destined to become one more unknown victim of malaria, the world's second biggest killer after Aids.

"Every day the fevers started around four in the afternoon, and for the next ten hours I would not know if I was dreaming or dying," he recalled this week. Eventually a doctor gave him a concoction of local herbs and Xu quickly recovered. The remedy that cured him is known as artemisinin, and is now being hailed as a life-saver for millions of malaria victims in Africa.

Artemisinin, first mentioned in Han Dynasty medical texts 2000 years ago, looks certain to replace the present remedies whose effectiveness is fast diminishing as malaria develops resistance to quinine. Despite extensive eradication efforts using quinine derivatives over the past 50 years, malaria kills a child every 30 seconds.

The highly effective Chinese herb, known in English as sweet wormwood, is already being grown by the US Army at a secret laboratory in the state of Wisconsin for use by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the main growing region is a remote mountain range in central China, where farmers are now battling to satisfy the world's sudden demand for the fern-like weed whose medical properties have long been known to local herbalists.

The Beijing Government certified mass cultivation of artemisinin this week and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is planning to buy about 100 million doses of the drug from the Youyang region of Chongqing province by the end of 2005.

Mr Xu, now 26, is one of the local farmers converting entire valleys into shoulder-high artemisinin fields. High above the gorges of the Wu river, for as far as you can see, hillsides are covered in a sea of lush green ferns.

From their scattered huts farmers wearing straw hats follow narrow paths through their shoulder-high crops. They will begin their harvest next week and, since the drug cannot be synthesised, 600 million African malaria sufferers - 10 per cent of the world's population - are dependent on their success.

"In this region at least, there is now no more malaria," Mr Xu said.

To promote the cultivation of artemisinin the Chinese Government this year completed a new road to Youyang, cutting travel time through narrow river gorges to the nearest airport from four days to six hours.

"I guarantee we will provide enough land to grow artemisinin, no matter how great the demand of the international community," said Gong Zemin, Youyang's Communist party secretary. But in reform-minded China, party secretaries no longer have unlimited power over the economy. Local farmers need to agree to plant herbs instead of corn on their land, a switch many are reluctant to make since they do not yet trust official assurance of world demand.

Holley, a Chinese pharmaceutical company that distributes artemisinin extract, is telling them income per hectare will increase by 150 per cent.

"We hope to double the area under cultivation next year, but even that may not be enough to satisfy demand," said Nelson Tan, Holley's medical director.

The sudden switch from quinine to artemisinin started with a Lancet article in January. A group of malaria experts accused leading aid agencies of gross negligence for insisting on using drugs to which infectious agents in large parts of Africa were now resistant.

Britain's Department of International Development had rejected switching to artemisinin saying it was unproven and expensive. Critics countered that at a dollar per saved life it was hardly unaffordable for the international community. The WHO backed them up with test results that showed the drug cut the death rate by 97 per cent. At a conference at New York's Columbia University in April, the embarrassed aid agencies reversed their stance and embraced artemisinin - some at the last minute.

Dr Dennis Carroll, an advisor to the US Agency for International Development, was quoted in the conference pamphlets as critical of artemisinin. By the time the conference started, he was chairing a panel on how to induce farmers to plant more of it.

Luo Rongchang, a Chinese medical researcher, said: "The herb is a powerful de-toxicant and has no side-effects. What a shame that it has taken the international community this long to realise its effectiveness."

The commercial development of artemisinin actually began with the Vietnam War when Ho Chi-Minh asked China for help with the Vietcong's growing malaria problem in 1967. Beijing consulted ancient medical text which included mentions of "qinghao," as artemisinin is known in Chinese. A scholar called Ge Hong (281-340 AD) recommended "a handful of qinghao in two pints of water".

Clinical forms of artemisinin were introduced in the 1980s but since China has relatively few cases of malaria it attracted little international attention until the growing resistance to quinine-based drugs.

"Artemisinin will be the first Chinese herbal cure that not only complements Western medicine but actually replaces it," Mr Tan said. A cowherd leads his animal through a field of sweet wormwood or artemisinin in a valley near Chongqing in Sichuan province. Artemisinin has become a lucrative crop for Chinese farmers in the region as they rush to grow enough of the plants for use in the fight against malaria. The fern-like weed, known as a medical remedy to the Chinese for at least 2,000 years, seems set to replace other drugs whose effectiveness against malaria is diminishing. The World Health Organisation says that it is the new gold standard for malaria treatment and a spokesman for the Department for International Development said: "It‚s . . . the future of first-line treatment."


About 40 per cent of the world's people - mostly in the poorest countries - are at risk of malaria

The World Health Organisation estimates that malaria causes more than 300 million acute illnesses and at least one million deaths a year

The combined death toll of the Commonwealth Forces - from all causes - in the two world wars was 1.7 million

75 per cent of deaths are African children, and malaria accounts for one in five of all childhood deaths in Africa

The disease causes anaemia, low birth weight, epilepsy, and neurological problems, which compromise the health and development of millions of children throughout the tropical world

The malaria parasite is transmitted through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Inside the human host, the parasite invades red blood cells, where it multiplies and develops, finally bursting out of the cells ready to continue its life cycle in the gut of the next feeding mosquito

Most deaths due to malaria are caused by the Plasmodium falciparum type of parasite

Burst red blood cells block blood vessels supplying the brain (cerebral malaria), or damage other vital organs

The traditional antimalarial drug in the West, quinine, is derived from the South American cinchona tree

Four Nobel prizes have been awarded for work associated with malaria, to: Sir Ronald Ross (1902), Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran (1907), Julius Wagner-Jauregg (1927) and Paul Hermann Muller (1948)

Update December 2004:

Sweet wormwood extract containing artemisinin, found extremely effective for treating malaria, should not be the only source for the life saving drug, according to UC Berkeley scientist Jay Keasling, who was given a $43 million dollars grant by the Gates Foundation to aid in the development of a genetically engineered version.

Not content with having to cultivate and harvest the plant to obtain artemisinin, Berkeley scientists have taken a different tack - they are genetically engineering E. coli bacteria to produce the malaria fighting compound found in wormwood. The scientists, led by Jay Keasling spliced chemical-producing genes from the wormwood plant and yeast genes into E. coli to produce a chemical precursor to atemesinin. They are now looking for the additional wormwood genes needed to produce artemesinin itself.

Here are two articles about this development:

Gates Foundation Invest $43 Million Dollars in Malaria Drug Research

Eastern & Western Medicine To Fight Malaria

California scientists are combining Eastern and Western technologies to battle malaria. University California, Berkeley scientists are engineering E. coli bacteria to produce a malaria fighting compound found in wormwood.

For more than 2,000 years, Chinese herbalists have ground wormwood to release the malaria fighting component artemisinin. When combined with other therapies, artemisinin ó a chemical known as an isoprenoid ó is an effective malaria treatment.

The Berkeley scientists, led by Jay Keasling spliced chemical-producing genes from the wormwood plant and yeast genes into E. coli to produce a chemical precursor to atemesinin. The scientists are looking for the additional wormwood genes needed to produce artemesinin itself.

By producing the artemesinin in bacteria, the researchers hope to develop a method to preserve plants like wormwood now destroyed for their chemical benefits. For example, the popular cancer-fighting drug Taxol is extracted from the Pacific yew tree. Only about four million Pacific yews grow in the Northwest.

"This process could be of interest to everybody ó drug companies making cancer agents, the government producing antibiotics against bioterror agents or industries making flavors or fragrances," Keasling said. "A company could tweak the bacteria a bit, adding any number of plant genes involved in making the chemical of interest, to get pretty much any isoprenoid."

"It's potentially important," said Dyann Wirth, a microbiologist who directs the Harvard Malaria Initiative. "In the long term, it will probably be best to find a more efficient way to do this than with plants."

Update June 2005:

African Experts Eye Malaria Drug Supply
By Sukhdev Chhatbar
The Associated Press

Monday 06 June 2005

Arusha, Tanzania - Medical experts, farmers and manufacturers began discussing efforts on Monday to ensure a reliable supply of a critical drug that could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths from malaria, one of the world's leading killer diseases.

The meeting is seeking to encourage wider cultivation of the sweet wormwood plant from which manufacturers extract artemisinin, used in the manufacture of the more-effective malaria combination therapy.

Increased supply of the plant, Artemisia annua, could help drive down costs of the therapy to at least $1 a course, from the current $2 a course, said Dr. Andrew Kitua, head of the Tanzania Medical Research Institute.

Malaria causes an estimated 400 million infections and as many as one million deaths a year, mainly in poor countries. The malaria parasite is increasingly becoming resistant to long-used drugs and experts recommend artemisinin-based combination drug treatment.

Demand for the new treatment rose to 30 million courses in 2004, from just 2 million courses in 2003, the World Health Organization said in a statement Monday. The increase can be traced to more countries switching from the older drugs to the newer combinations over the last few years.

Growers of Artemisia annua, representatives of international and non-governmental organizations, government agencies and companies distributing the medicines to patients have gathered in Tanzania to discuss plans to ensure a dependable supply of the malaria drug.

Others attending the three-day meeting include officials from the ministries of health and agriculture of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Until last year, China and Vietnam were the main sources of Artemisia annua. The two countries, however, were unable to meet the steep increase in demand because they can only grow one crop a year, said Dr. Allan Schapira of the World Health Organization.

It was then found that the plant can grow well in the East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania.

"Now since this year, here in East Africa, there has been a great increase in the cultivation of Artemisia annua and this is going to be part of the solution to the problem of supply shortage," Schapira said.

"In all likelihood, the supply shortages will be resolved from 2006," Schapira said. "What is exciting is we are seeing a problem which has had its effect on health in Africa and very quickly it has been possible to involve Africans in solving that problem. I think that is very unusual."

See also related:

Sweet Annie - Wormwood, Artemisia Annua

Britain backs anti-malaria fight
24 November 2004 - Britain joined with other countries in buying up doses of a new anti-malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline, to ensure supply. This seems like governments are getting together to help western pharma industry overcome competition from a natural remedy, even to the tune of paying for the vaccine...

Traditional herbal medicines for malaria - British Medical Journal

Improved Nutrition Could Lessen Malaria Burden Worldwide - A large percentage of child deaths related to malaria are attributable to undernutrition and deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc, iron and folate, according to a new report by researchers with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their review of recent data from malaria endemic regions showed that improving child nutrition could prevent more malaria-related illnesses and deaths than previously thought.

Drug 'could boost malaria fight' - Scientists have developed a new drug which they say could transform the fight against malaria. The drug is a synthetic version of Artemisinin - a herb extract that has been used for centuries in China.

Sepp's comment: Let's see if the synthetic version works as well as the natural one, and whether the pharmaceutical companies that developed it will ramp up the price to meet or exceed that of the actual herb extract.

Chinese Herbs: a Natural Solution
With a history of over 5,000 years, Chinese Medicine is a highly organized system to health and prevention. Recently, there has been a growing interest and acceptance of Chinese Medicine...

Chemical and Engineering News: An herbal solution?
Philanthropists should seek the best and most affordable medicine for the patient. In "Bootstrapping via Philanthropy," C&EN cites One World Health figures when it says that "the current three-day malaria treatment containing artemisinin, a terpenoid compound laboriously extracted from Artemisia annua, is nearly 100% effective.

New England Journal of Medicine: Making Antimalarial Agents Available in Africa

September 2005: Malaria drug gets recommendation
Malaria experts are changing their advice after a study showed a drug can save more lives than current therapy. The World Health Organization said it will recommend artesunate, a drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine, for severe malaria.

Fungi 'new tool' against malaria
Fungi native to East Africa could be used as a new tool in the fight against malaria, recent studies suggest. An international team of scientists from the Netherlands, Tanzania and the UK say their technique could significantly reduce malaria cases. Mosquitoes are unlikely to develop resistance to the fungi, say scientists

Ancient Chinese remedy shows "potential" in preventing breast cancer
An extract of the sweet wormwood plant used for centuries to fight malaria, and shown to target and kill cancer cells, may help prevent breast cancer, researchers have found. The two bioengineers with the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., found that the substance, artemisinin, seemed to prevent breast cancer in rats that had swallowed a cancer-causing chemical. The study appears in the latest issue of the research journal Cancer Letters.

Malaria drug gets recommendation

Malaria drug gets recommendation
BBC 30 August 2005
Malaria experts are changing their advice after a study showed a drug can save more lives than current therapy. The World Health Organization said it will recommend artesunate, a drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine, for severe malaria. The move follows a Lancet study that showed using this drug in adults living in areas of low malaria transmission cut deaths by over a third.

World Bank accused over malaria
BBC - 24 April 2006
The World Bank has been accused of publishing false accounts and wasting money on ineffective medicines in its malaria treatment programme. A Lancet paper claims the bank faked figures, boosting the success of its malaria projects, and reneged on a pledge to invest $300-500m in Africa. It also claims the bank funded obsolete treatments - against expert advice.

Herbal Treatment That Really Works For Malaria
Hard to believe, it took so long for conventional medicine to accept the herbal drug artemisia was such an effective treatment for malaria. Chinese herbalists have used leaves from the sweet wormwood shrub for more than 1,500 years to treat malaria, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that scientists finally accepted artemisia as a bona fide treatment.

Rectal artemisinins rapidly eliminate malarial parasites
Derived from sweet wormwood, artemisinin has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In the 1990s, researchers recognised its antimalarial activity and since then a number of safe and effective artemisinin derivatives have been developed. These drugs, given by mouth, as a rectal suppository or injected into a vein or muscle have been shown to rapidly reduce heavy parasite infection. Oral artemisinin-based combination treatments now form the basis of antimalarial treatment policies in most malaria endemic countries.

Suppositories are easy to administer and the World Health Organization Malaria Treatment Guidelines currently recommends rectal artemisinins as a pre-referral treatment for severe malaria.

December 2008: Pfizer and Sigma-Tau Announce an Agreement to Market a Potential New Treatment for Malaria in Africa
Eurartesimģ (dihydroartemisinin + piperaquine), a Phase III product candidate, aims to treat uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in adults and children, while reducing the potential for re-infection. The product candidate, developed jointly by Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and Sigma-Tau, is expected to be filed for registration with the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009. Eurartesimģ has already been granted orphan drug status by both the European and U.S. regulatory authorities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all uncomplicated malaria be treated with ACTs. This policy is designed to reduce drug resistance which has rendered the most widely used monotherapies, such as chloroquine, useless in many parts of the world.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Saturday July 17 2004
updated on Friday December 10 2010

URL of this article:


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Readers' Comments

This is a most interesting article and I hope there is some follow up on this herb.

Jurriaan Plesman

Posted by: Jurriaan Plesman on July 18, 2004 03:47 AM


Iam highly impresed by the revealation of this chinese herb. How shall i get the seeds so that i can grow it at home. Climatic conditions of chinese growing region are similar with ours!

Charles Mlelwa

Posted by: Charles Mlelwa on November 17, 2004 04:37 PM


I live in southern Nigeria
Somebody please tell me;is there a veriety that grows well here (tropical Africa)? We realy do need it here. It would be a real "Life-saver".

Posted by: Rowland, Ayo on February 10, 2005 02:52 PM


Here is a pertinent comment received from Janel Hopper of the Simeus Foundation - they are two letters published in Chemical and Engineering News:

An herbal solution?

Philanthropists should seek the best and most affordable medicine for the patient. In "Bootstrapping via Philanthropy," C&EN cites One World Health figures when it says that "the current three-day malaria treatment containing artemisinin, a terpenoid compound laboriously extracted from Artemisia annua, is nearly 100% effective. But the plant is in short supply and the regimen, at about $2.40, is too costly for most poor regions. The hope is to develop treatment costing "well under" $1.00 per patient" (C&EN, Jan. 3, page 18). Perhaps in their high-tech approach, scientists will come up with high-cost answers.

The tea of the Artemisia herb is less than a dime a patient, all but free. The herb is an abundant weed along the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, not at all in short supply. Furthermore, the whole herb is a polychemical "cocktail," containing at least half a dozen compounds shown to be synergic against malaria. The whole "natural cocktail" herb tea may not generate resistance as quickly as pure artemisinin or bipharmaceutical or tripharmaceutical cocktails.

But we must be sure that the natural cocktail is safe, efficacious, and less likely to generate resistance. Until then, we won't know whether the natural tea, at less than 20 cents per dose, is better. True philanthropists will doubtless insist on seeking the cheapest and most efficacious medicine, be it natural or synthetic. Any clinical trials for malaria comparing pure artemisinin with placebo should include a third arm, a tea of Artemisia annua (also known as Qing Hao or Sweet Annie), which has been used effectively for millennia for fevers. Until the tea is clinically compared, we cannot be sure that it isn't better or equal or only slightly inferior.

James A. Duke
Fulton, Md.


We commend the gates foundation's recent $42.6 million investment to combat malaria, a disease that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates kills a child every 20 seconds. Given the worldwide shortage of medication for this disease and the uncertainty that any one approach will be successful, we recommend additional strategies be investigated, including ones based on plant extracts that have been used for centuries, such as Artemisia annua, for which preliminary clinical studies suggest safety and efficacy.

Prompted by the Vietnam War, China consulted ancient texts for treatment for malaria. WHO's website says, "The Chinese herbal remedy Artemisia annua, used in China for almost 2,000 years, has been found to be effective against resistant malaria and could create a breakthrough in preventing almost one million deaths annually, most of them children, from severe malaria."

Artemisinin (isolated from A. annua) and analogs derived from it were later shown to be effective against resistant strains of the malaria parasite and are currently being used by WHO in combination with other agents, such as mefloquine, to prevent development of resistance.

Previously, when treated largely with quinine (isolated from the bark of the Cinchona tree), the malaria parasite developed resistance to quinine and several drugs modeled on the quinine structure (chloroquine and mefloquine), as well as to antifolates, such as sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, which are the first- or second-line treatment in many African countries. Malaria will no doubt soon become resistant to Malarone (atovaquone-proguanil) if used as a single therapy on a large scale. Interestingly, the parasite is not resistant to whole Cinchona.

The development of standardized plant preparations or extracts based on artemisinin or additional bioactive compounds in A. annua could become a viable and low-cost solution, pending support for the needed pharmacological and clinical trials. The combination of bioactive compounds in this species may actually be synergistic to isolated and purified artemisinin, and the combination of compounds within the plant may preclude resistance that has occurred under single-compound therapies. Given the current shortage of artemisinin and the difficulties that many countries with high malarial incidence face in being able to afford treatment, exploring a plant-based therapeutic option within a modern scientific and clinical approach presents a compelling strategy.

We recommend that the Gates Foundation, public health officials, and the pharmaceutical industry support the needed pharmacological and clinical trials of standardized A. annua teas and other extract formulations. Should such studies show safety and efficacy, as some papers suggest, then further testing on product formulations and public policy would grow from that to incorporate such alternatives into health care policies. Clearly, such studies are low cost, would be rapid relative to biotechnological approaches now planned, and could easily be done with methodology acceptable to current clinical protocols. It's exciting to envision tropical countries being able to grow their own source of antimalarials and prepare such materials to ensure that a standardized medicinal regime is provided to those in need. The prospect of providing agricultural opportunities for the same countries is even more compelling. We need to consider multiple strategies that can each still meet the high standards we expect for any and all medicines.

Mike Benge, Washington, D.C.
Gordon Cragg, Frederick, Md.
Jorge Ferreira, Beaver, W.Va.
Janel Hopper, Palo Alto, Calif.
Jules Janick, West Lafayette, Ind.
W. John Kress, Washington, D.C.
Jim Simon, New Brunswick, N.J.
Gary Strobel, Bozeman, Mont.
Andrew Weil, Tucson, Ariz.
Merlin L. Willcox, Buckingham, England

Contact Information:
Janel Hopper
702 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Posted by: Sepp on February 15, 2005 09:35 PM


A letter to the editor (NY Times) from James A. Duke:

From: James A. Duke
To: New York TImes
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 9:26 AM
Subject: Biology's New Forbidden Fruit

Morton (Feb 11) chides "Before the trees of knowledge in their synthetic garden bear their strange fruit, the gardeners should heed the lessons of history". Gates'  $42.6 million is to develop a cheaper source of artemisinin via some Trojan bacteria. The lessons from quinine history teach us that pure artemisinin will lead to resistance. The whole is better than the sum of its parts. Whole Cinchona bark contains some 20 alkaloids and is less likely to lead to resistance than pure quinine. Whole artemisia annua plants contain nearly a dozen compounds some proven synergistic, with the artemisinin.  Whole artemisia with hundreds of phytochemcials IS magnitudes cheaper, and less likely to lead to resistance, and MAY be as or almost as efficacious as pure artemisinin, whether isolated from the plant, or manufactured by Gates' 40-million-dollar Trojan bacteria..  We'll never really know that pure artemisinin is really any better than the whole herbal extract until the two are clincially compared.

James A. 'Jim' Duke
8210 Murphy Road
Fulton, Maryland 20759
Phytochemical Database

Posted by: Sepp on February 16, 2005 01:12 PM


good information usefull to various poor people

Posted by: BasavaSankarRao on March 17, 2005 04:38 PM


Is there any probability to grow sweet wormwood intensively in greenhouses in order to get higher artemesinin content?
Could be a opportunity for countries with a warm but not tropical climate, like North African countries and create work places.
Many thanks for your reply.

Hanna Wupperman

Posted by: Hanna Wupperman on May 9, 2005 04:53 PM


Dear Hanna,

I suppose the possibility exists, but as with everything, it is a question of supply and demand. If there is demand for the natural herb to use in fighting malaria, it will be grown in many places. What needs to be established is the need for more artemisia, then growers will jump in and produce it.

On the other hand, if growers start growing without there being a market, failure is likely.

Posted by: Sepp on May 10, 2005 09:46 PM


I agree with the response for "Responding to Vivien Marx's December 20, 2004
Malaria Fight: Gates Foundation funds development of malaria drug artemisinin
January 3, 2005
BOOTSTRAPPING VIA PHILANTHROPY: A Californian start-up chooses a zero-profit project: helping to develop a malaria drug"

Until the two can be compared, I believe that it is better to use the manpower and tropical climate already available in Africa to produce the much-needed herb. It will also help create jobs and boost the economies of these countries struggling with Malaria. Additionally, the know how of how to synthesis the drug can be taught to these capable countries so that extraction can also be carried out locally. And maybe later even production of these drugs could be carried out. Millions are dying and we need to act fast. Funding maybe needed for infrastructure and development, but I think this would be a more proactive step, while we wait for the comparison of the two to happen. I want to now if there are any project like this currently running and how one can help and get involved.

Posted by: Aika Temu on May 13, 2005 11:57 AM



(from Dr. Andrew Saul's Doctor Yourself Newsletter)

On March 5, 2003, the Doctor Yourself Newsletter suggested a novel approach for treating malaria, a disease that kills over two million people annually, mostly children: have all malaria patients take megadoses of vitamin C.

I am very pleased to report that recent research has now validated this hypothesis.

"Falciparum malaria infection is associated with significant destruction of erythrocytes. This leads to the release of toxic metabolic products, including oxidant compounds. We measured the serum concentration of the antioxidant, ascorbic acid, in 129 patients presenting with acute falciparum malaria infection and in 65 healthy individuals. . . (A)scorbic acid plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of acute falciparum malaria in adults. Infected children also need to be given supplemental doses of ascorbate in view of the weakness of their immune system." (Hassan GI, Gregory U, Maryam H. Serum ascorbic acid concentration in patients with acute Falciparum malaria infection: possible significance. Braz J Infect Dis. 2004 Oct;8(5):378-381. Epub 2005 Mar 17. )

Though not affiliated with the above authors, we have actually been field-testing this idea for over ten years. In the early 1990's, I presented the megadose-vitamin-C concept to some of the missionary Sisters of St. Joseph based in Rochester, NY. The result was published in the Jan. 5, 2003 DY News

"Vitamin C is now part of the daily lives of the Myky tribe in Brazil's Goias rainforests, thanks to the efforts of Sister Suzie Wills, SSJ and a number of other Sisters of St. Joseph. Suzie has been very effective in getting native people eating not only citrus fruits and berries, but also taking C powder and tablets on a regular basis. She reports healthier children and babies, and that infant mortality has dramatically decreased. Sister Suzie is now at Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, but is soon expected to be headed to back to Goiania."

I love this job!

Posted by: Sepp on June 14, 2005 09:52 PM


-total synthesis
-semi-synthesis of derivatives

Posted by: rosehanh on June 24, 2005 05:11 AM


rosehanh ,

This article in the Taipei Times says:

...artemisinin, which is extracted from the sweet wormwood plant, was embraced this year by Western health agencies and donors as the most cost-effective solution.

The sudden shortage "has created a major wave of shock in our organization," said Dr. Andrea Bosman of the World Health Organization's malaria control team. Paul Lalvani, procurement manager for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the countries that had just adopted the drug were "really in a bind."

That does not sound like anyone is getting artemisinin from synthesis. Do you have any references to back up your contention?

Although there is certainly work in that direction, it doesn't seem that synthetic artemisinin product is being sold. The plant extract is getting more and more expensive...

Posted by: Sepp on June 24, 2005 10:57 PM


A letter to the editor of JAMA, by Jim Duke, forwarded by Janel Hooper. It appears the benefits are in the whole plant, not some pharmaceutical extract then synthesised and patented to sell for big bucks:

Dear Editor,

Thank goodness February is a short month. I received my Feb. 16th JAMA only on Mar. 14, and am responding immediately after seeing an erroneous paragraph in Hampton's Artemisia annua article. As too often, over-moneyed philanthropists (in this case Gates) fund a high tech solution to a low-tech problem, easily solved in abandoned tobacco fields of North Carolina. Hampton is right, artemisinin has been around a long time, I suspect for millions of years, protecting the weed that produces it, and perhaps extracted by the Chinese for millennia with low-tech inexpensive technology. It's a weed here in Maryland and in Nearby Virginia and North Carolina and as far north as Michigan.
Hampton is wrong in saying it is hard to cultivate; it is a noxious weed; he is wrong to say, "A. annua grows only in certain regions of China and southeast Asia. See photograph being sent you by my friend, Roon Frost. A. annua is a 10-foot weed in my garden here in Md. A hurricane-downed Artemisia annua contains as much artemisinin. I defy you to analyze the skeleton on my plants still evident though dead since the first frost. small as strong as it did back in summer. There are many unemployed tobacco farmers who could grow it, and I'll wager I have enough seed from one plant to plant an acre in NC. Are we sure that pure artemisinin need be extracted? I suspect the synergic mix missed below would be just as good, cheaper and less likely to lead to resistance.
The appendix (excerpted to preserve word count) illustrates that A. annua contains several compounds that are also antimalarial and probably potentiate artemisinin. The whole is cheaper and better than the sum of its parts.

APPENDIX: Antimalarial Activities of Some Phytochemicals Reported from
Artemisia annua L. (Asteraceae)

Antihepatotoxic: scopoletin ; stigmasterol

Antimalarial: artemetin ; artemisinin ; ascaridole ; casticin ; chrysosplenetin ; chrysosplenol-d ; cirsilineol ; eupatorin

Antiplasmodial: chrysosplenetin ; chrysosplenol-d

Antipyretic: borneol ; menthol

Antiseptic: 1,8-cineole ; alpha-terpineol ; beta-pinene ; camphor ; menthol ; scopoletin ; terpinen-4-ol

Hepatoprotective: beta-sitosterol ; borneol ; scopoletin

Immunostimulant: coumarin

MDR-Inhibitor: chrysoplenol-D ; chrysoplenetin

Parasiticide: casticin ; chrysosplenetin ; chrysosplenol-d ; cirsilineol ; eupatorin

Posted by: Sepp on June 26, 2005 06:34 PM


TIME magazine Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005

For more than 400 years, the world has largely relied on quinine to combat malaria, especially the most severe cases, which kill up to 2.7 million people a year. But a study by the medical-research charity Wellcome Trust published in the Lancet last Friday showed that an injectable version of the drug artesunate√∑one of a range of medicines derived from sweet wormwood, a traditional Chinese herb√∑can reduce the chances of death from severe malaria by 35% compared to quinine. The results were so striking that the study is likely to alter the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendations for treatment of severe malaria. "This is quite significant," says Dr. Peter Olumese, a malaria-drug-policy expert at the WHO. "This drug is a good product."

Perhaps someone can start growing it in NE India? I am willing to help find someone in NE India to experiment with this.

Posted by: Ralph on August 30, 2005 12:10 PM


i am using artemisin 2 caps a day for intestinal fermentations and other ibs like symptons and relief from symptons of gi problems although not entirely suppressed have been dramatic. after using possible dozens of preparations etc. nothing compares with it for intestinal fermentation

Posted by: jose on September 22, 2006 02:30 PM


Found on the Alt Medicine Forum Yahoo group:

- - -

We published a text for patients and physicians on the new top WHO and UNICEF malaria medication -- THE DERIVATIVES OF A CHINESE HERB ARTEMISIA. Sorry the stocks already bounced. Folks with brain malaria and massively infected red blood cells have no fever or positive visible cells in 2-3 days, which is staggering.

Also helps kill the 9-11 forms of Babesia in the US which are 99 missed as causes of fatigue and other problems and do not always have anemia as is taught. It also helps with some cancers. Zhang will have a nice chapter in Oxford press book on cancer coming out fairly soon, which I just edited, and found many fine ideas from our Chinese herbal practitioners. And he is quite good at communicating in American pathology terms, instead of metaphysical and complex energy medicine terms. Some time at Harvard helped with communication.

Artemisinin, Artesunate, Artemisinic Acid and Other Derivatives of Artemisia Used for Malaria, Babesia and Cancer

James Schaller, MD

Posted by: Sepp on November 16, 2006 09:25 AM


This is great news and it also makes me sick. All of the people over the decades who have died from malaria and the cure has been around for thousands of years. It's the same with cancer. Certain American Natives have used herbs to cure what we consider cancer for over 100 years. A main reason why this exists is because of racism and prejudice. There are some countries that are not receptive to any kind of potential or proven cure unless it comes from Northern Europeans or White Americans. If we would all learn to work together more, much more could be accomplished.

Posted by: Celia on May 27, 2008 10:55 AM


Are seeds available to grow the Sweet Worm Wood and can it be grown in North West NSW.
Thanks Chris

Posted by: Christine McElhinney on December 15, 2008 07:37 PM


I appreciate the wide range of information here. It is nice to see various opinions. Two things that might be of use in this discussion are two ideas coming in a 29th book (2011).

1) While we do love many herbs, my appeal is that if someone has serious massive inflamation, possibly from missed infections for decades, the good assisting chemicals in the herbal mix can cause sensitivity since the herb might have 40 treatments or allergens/medicines and not one. We have new ways to drop this vulnerability, but it can be an issue.

2) The application of malaria treatments to roughly 35 genetically unique Babesia forms posted is a massive error. When I say "treatments" I really mean dosing since as a trend many natural and synthetic treatments do kill Babesia, but artemisinin might expose Babesia with aches, a headache, fatigue and other new or worsening symptoms on Day one, but I have never seen it FULLY remove Babesia.

Other forms that are more potent or semi synthetic derivatives can drop Babesia body load and be useful. But any synthetic needs serious liver observation and protections.

Again, thank you for everyone's useful posted ideas.

Warm regards and health.


James Schaller, MD, MAR

Posted by: JAMES SCHALLER, MD, MAR on February 27, 2011 03:58 AM


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