Artemisia annua: from therapy to prophylaxis

Nordic Malaria Conference 13-14 september 2012

Artemisia annua : from therapy to prophylaxis
Results of recent African research work.

Since 5 years the NGO IFBV from Luxembourg has established a working relationship with African universities, in close cooperation with other European research institutions. Several of these partners have run clinical trials with artemisia annua tea , , , , , , , , . In all these trials a therapeutical effect of 95 % or higher was confirmed by the use over 7 days of whole leaf infusion, capsules or tablets. One of the surprising effects noticed in these trials was that that the artemisinin content had very little impact on the results. This lead us to make an analysis as complete as possible of all the constituents, organic and inorganic , in a large series of artemisia annua samples from different origins . Artemisia annua from Luxembourg which had shown very promising antimalarial results, excellent bactericidal properties and a strong anti-inflammatory effect contained very little artemisinin but higher concentrations of certain essential oils. A literature survey has confirmed that several artemisia species like artemisia maritima, apiacea, afra which don’t contain artemisinin are extensively used as antimalarials in herbal medicine . At Leiden it was found that the anti-HIV activity of artemisia afra is even higher than for artemisia annua. In our studies it was also found that the effect of water soluble polysaccharides and saponins had been neglected in the past because most of the artemisia annua extracts had been obtained with organic solvents. But the most important finding in several of these clinical trials, especially in Kenya and Uganda, was that people who continued to drink one or two cups of artemisia annua tea per week, after they had been cured, become immune against malaria. Serendipicity often has brought the greatest breakthroughs in science.

Pierre Lutgen, IFBV-BELHERB, lutgenp@gms.lu

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