What is Artemisinin?
Artemisinin, also known as QingHaosu or sweet Annie, is an herbal compound derived from the sweet wormwood bush that grows in Asia, Africa and North America.
It has been used in Chinese traditional medicine for over 2000 years. Traditionally, this herb was prepared in boiling water and was used mainly to treat malaria, fevers and parasitic infections.
In modern medicine, Artemisinin is still used for these purposes and new discoveries suggest that it has other properties that may support the immune system, provide anti-aging effects and treat certain infections.
In addition, it is currently being researched on its potential effectiveness in fighting cancer cells and Lyme’s disease.
Health Benefits of Artemisinin
Artemisinin is a semi synthetic derivative of the Artemisia annua plant. It is known as an antibacterial, thought to strengthen healthy cells and break down infections.
This supplement is used to treat infections caused by insect bites including African sleeping sickness (tsetse bites) and river blindness (black fly bites). Also, it is used for wounds and skin conditions, preventing infections and promoting healing.
It is also thought to be an anti-inflammatory, with a sedative effect, that calms the nerves and muscles. This promotes the ability to fall asleep, reduces pain in joints and is even associated with reducing pain in symptoms of IBS and PMS.
Finally, Artemisinin supplements are believed to boost the immune system that has been damaged by febrile seizures. These are fever fits that cause high body temperatures but are not associated with any serious health problems.
Artemisinin Use For Malaria
It is thought that Artemisinin destroys Malaria parasites by attacking the cell membrane and breaking down the high iron concentrations that parasites collect.
It is the number one cure for Malaria outside of the US. Within the US, it is not approved as a cure because it has not worked in some cases. Scientist believe this is due to the possibility that people stop taking it too soon when they start to feel better.
Artemisinin is thought to stay in the body for three days, however, some of the parasites can have a slow appearance out of the liver. Although it can be taken alone, The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Artemisinin to be combined with other drugs called ACT’s (Artemisinin combination therapies) to prevent the possibility of the parasites returning.
Artemisinin can kill most of the parasites and the use of a partner drug such as lumefantrine (Coartem), pyronaridine (Pyramax), amodiaquine (ASAQ), mefloquine (ASMQ) and piperaquine (Duo-Cotecxin) may ensure that they are all eliminated. Consult your doctor for the best options.
For shorter trips, it is suggested to take 100-200mg, three times a day for a few days before and after trips to malaria prone locations.
For longer trips to malaria zone areas, it is recommended to take Artemisinin combination therapies (ACT), an additional drug taken with artemisinin components that have a longer half life (lasts longer in the system).
Artemisinin Use For Cancer
Artemisinin may have anti-cancer effects. Results from limited studies are in the early stages, however, they are promising. They suggest that Artemisinin may kill cancer cells while not affecting healthy ones.
Cancer cells contain high concentrations of iron. Iron is needed for cell division and cancer cells accumulate iron to multiple. Levels of iron concentration can be 1000 times higher in cancer cells than in normal cells.
It is thought that when Artemisinin comes in contact with high levels of iron, it creates selective free radicals that are toxic to these invading cells and kills the infected cells without affecting the healthy ones.
The targeting of iron is also associated with malaria parasites and antimalarials may all possess anti-cancer effects.
Artemisinin has also shown to decrease chemicals that cause new blood vessels to grow and multiply called angiogenesis. This is especially important for people with tumors. Decreasing these chemicals, stop nutrients from being supplied to tumors and discourages the growth and reproduction of new cells.
Lower dosages of 150mg per day have been the reported usage for people who try this method.
Is Artemisinin Safe?
Artemisinin can interact with other medications including histamine blockers (H2 blockers) used to treat ulcers, antacids, sucralfate (used to treat GERD and duodenal ulcers) and proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) used to treat gastric acid production.
Also, it is not recommended if you are taking anti-seizure medication because it may reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
Artemisinin may lower blood sugar in diabetics and cause levels to drop below normal. It is not recommended to take with grapefruit juice because it may increase the absorption rate.
Artemisinin is NOT recommended for;
- pregnant women
- people with cardiac or hypertension
Some side effects have been;
- stomach cramps
- darkened urine
- low grade fever
It is important to speak with your doctor first if you have any concerns or taking any medications before taking Artemisinin.
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