Artemisia annua prevents the transmission of malaria from man to mosquito
In the human body the parasite injected into the bloodstream by the mosquito undergoes the transformation from the asexual plasmodium into the sexual gametocytes which the mosquito is going to pick-up during its blood meal. The killing effect of artemisinin on gametocytes is known since twenty years and was first mentioned in in vitro trials at the John Hopkins University. These results were confirmed in 1993 by research teams in China and India and mentioned in the document WHO/MAL/98.1086. The Malaria Journal published a review article[i] in 2008 describing similar studies involving a few thousand people in several countries.
Taking regularly a cup of Artemisia annua tea could strongly reduce not only the plasmodium and but also the gametocyte load in the blood. We have received many anecdotic reports of this kind from African partners, but the effect deserves a well designed series of clinical trials in different human and geographical environment. Several are planned in vitro and in vivo in cooperation with BELHERB (Association belgo-luxembourgeise pour la promotion des herbes médicinales). Children appear to constitute the majority of carriers of gametocytes as a study in Kenya showed [ii]. It appears that the anopheles mosquito is preferably attracted by children and especially by those who are carriers of gametocytes. The efforts should thus concentrate on school children.
Other antimalarial drugs like chloroquine, amodiaquine, don’t have this gametocytocidal effect. Pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine (SP) even increases the gametocyte density. Artemisia annua tea taken over 7 days presents the advantage over ACT pills taken over 3 days because gametocytes generally only develop after the 5th day of the infection.
Furthermore essential oils which are present in the tea like 1.8 cineol[iii] and limonene[iv] are known as antimalarials, they arrest parasite development at an early stage and inhibit thus the formation of gametocytes. Their presence in the blood could even have a preventive effect against malaria by strengthening the immune system.
The dream of malaria eradication could become true
Abstract of the data presented at the Conference on “Health and Education in Africa – Fighting malaria and dysentery” at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 16th 2011. Th
[i] LC Okell et al, Malaria Journal, 2008, 7(125)
[ii] LC Gouagna et al., East Afr Med Journ., 2003, 80 (12) 627-634
[iii] Vanessa Su et al., Flavour Fragr. J. 2008; 23: 315–318
[iv] IC Moura et al.,Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, September 2001, p. 2553-2558, Vol. 45, No. 9