Artemisinin or Qinghaosu (pronounced: Ching-hao-su) is an extract
from the plant Artemisia annua, also known as sweet wormwood or
Qinghao (pronounced: Ching-hao). Artemisia Annua is a plant with a
strong aroma, containing camphor and essential oils. It is a
robust plant that grows in many areas of the world.
from a Nobleman's Tomb:
The herb wormwood has been used by the Chinese for thousands
of years in various remedies. One of its uses in treating malaria
was lost until it was rediscovered in an archeological dig in the
early 1970's. Originally believed to be a tomb of a prince of the
Han Dynasty, it was later determined to be the tomb of the Han
nobleman, "Marquis of Dai", the Chancellor of Changsha. A book in the East Asia Library, The Cultural
Relics Unearthed from the Han Tombs at Mawangdui, by Fu Juyou
and Chen Songchang (Hunan Publishing House, FOLIO DA 793 M247 F8
1992) details the fascinating story of this archeological find. In
the tomb they found a silk scroll labeled "Medical Treatments
for 52 Diseases" that contains 283 medical treatments,
including the herbal recipe for treatment of malaria by soaking the leaves and branches of the artemisia herb in
water overnight and then drinking the water. This silk scroll document is now the
oldest existing text on Chinese medicine.
Scientific research has shown Artemisinin to be particularly
beneficial in balancing the microbiology of the GI tract. Under
certain circumstances, such as in the presence of iron,
Artemisinin's internal endoperoxide bridge reacts to rapidly form
very damaging free radicals. This type of rapid production of free
radicals when iron is high can lead to extensive cell damage and
kill cells. Since iron accumulation is high in the parasitic organism
malaria, and other rapidly dividing abnormal cells, i.e. canorous
cells, Artemisinin destroys these high iron concentrated cells
while posing little or no danger to the normal cells.
Parasite to Cancer Cells:
Dr. Henry Lai, Ph.D. is a bioengineering research professor at
the University of Washington. In 1994, Dr. Lai learned from a
colleague about new research on anti-malarial herb called artemisinin.
Dr. Lai read the research and learned that it is because of the
high iron concentration, Artemisinin attacks malaria parasite.
Suddenly, the idea of using artemisinin to selectively kill cancer
cells "jumped into his mind", as he says. Since it is
known fact that all
cancer cells sequester iron just as the malaria parasite does, Dr. Lai
made the simple but profound connection.