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The Wonder Herb:
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. 

Remedy 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.

Latest Science:
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.

From Malaria 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 had made the simple but profound connection.


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