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  • Writer's pictureDeb Killian

Sweet Wormwood

WHAT: The Sweet Wormwood or (Artemisia Annua Plant) is an annual aromatic herb from Asia, and has been used in China to treat fevers for more than 2000 years. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is often prescribed in combination with other herbs to treat, in addition to fevers, jaundice, headache, dizziness, and nosebleeds. The genus Artemisia belongs to the sunflower family and includes many well-known plants used in medicine, perfumery, and food and drink industry, such as (Teragon, Absinthe, and Mugwort or Sweet wormwood). The sweet wormwood contains the chemical artemisinin and its aerial parts and is used in making antimalarial drugs. Artemisinin and its precursors (including arteannuin B, artemistene, artemisinic acid, artemether, and etc...) are of significant interest for the treatment of cerebral and drug resistant cases of malaria. Artemisinin and its precursors have also shown activity against a number of tumor cell lines. A decoction of Artemisia has also been shown clinically to be a good choleretic in the regulation of gall bladder mobility.

WHY: Malaria must be considered as one of the most common tropical diseases. It causes a greater economic loss than any other disease and it is a major cause of infant mortality in many developing countries, particularly in Africa. It is recognized that new drugs are urgently needed because of the resistance of plasmodium species to current chemotherapy and other drugs. Therefore searching for new antimalarial compounds from plants is of increasing clinical interest. The Chinese antimalarial drug artemisinin is one such new drug of current interest. Artemisinin has rapid action and is effective against chloroquine-resistant malarial parasites and has a different mode of action from existing blood schizonticides, (which are agents that kill schizonts) and schizonts are the cells that undergo schizogony or asexual reproduction to form daughter cells in your blood stream.

WHO: As for the who, that can be benefited with the Artemisia Annua Plant would be all who may undergo treatments of malaria, through artemisinin and derivatives, or may use the plant for tea remedies for fevers, jaundice, headaches, dizziness, and nosebleeds. Note, if pregnant avoid use. Artemisinin and its derivatives, in particular artemether, have a toxic effect on embryos.

WHERE AND WHEN: where and when can you grow the Artemisia Annua Plant? It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are Hermaphroditic, having both male and female organs, and are pollinated by insects. Suitable for light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. A rain-fed crop requires at least 600-650mm of rain fall. As with most medicinal herbs, artemisinin's contents and efficacy are subject to climatic, geographical and environmental conditions. Not all Artemisia Annua plants necessarily contain artemisinin and in some places, depending on the quality of the soil and rainfall, the content may be very low and without industrial value. These factors make it necessary to run pilot tests of cultivation on small areas of land to ensure that the land selected is suitable for growing high-yield plants before large-scale cultivation begins. Cultivation of Artemisia Annua requires a minimum of 6 months and extraction, processing and manufacturing of the final product require at least 2–5 months depending on the product formulation. High temperatures during post-harvest handling can damage the quality of the plant. After harvesting or collection, the artemisinin content of the leaves will gradually decrease. The value of the raw material for extraction can be lost after six to twelve months’ storage. To buy seeds:

HOW: To use Artemisia Annua Plant? Drugs are primary weapons for reducing malaria in human populations. However emergence of resistant parasites has repeatedly curtailed the lifespan of each drug that is developed and deployed. Currently the most effective anti-malarial is artemisinin, derived from the dried Artemisia Annua Plant. When using artemisinin you use the (ACT) or Artemisinin Combination Therapy. When combining or using combination therapy with Artemisinin, this reduces the risk or the malaria bug developing resistance, where if you would just use Artemisinin by its self you would have a higher chance for the malaria schizonts, or cell to gain resistance.

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