In a recent study,
scientists have demonstrated that the powdered dried leaves of the plant, Artemisia annua
wormwood), has the ability to deliver artemisinin 40 times more effectively
than purified artemisinin, and is highly capable of reducing malarial parasite
infection in mice.
The drug artemisinin is produced from the herb Artemisia
in combination with other anti-malarial drugs (Artemisinin-based
is currently the best treatment option against chloroquine-resistant malarial
The reason for the greater
effectiveness of the leaves of the Artemisia
whole plant as opposed to the purified drug may also be partly due to
the presence of other compounds such as flavonoids, in the dried leaves.
Flavonoids are known for their
anti malarial properties, and are capable of working synergistically along with
other components in the leaves to fight the parasite.
led by Mostafa Elfawal,
microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts, fed the powdered leaves of
Artemisia, grown in their lab, to mice in order to compare its effect with the
pure form of artemisinin.
found that there was a greater reduction of malarial parasites during the
course of 12 to 72 hrs in mice that were administered with a low dose of the
artemisinin through dried leaves than in mice fed with the pure form of the
drug. This is because artemisinin from the whole plant enters the blood stream
more readily than from the drug.
researchers, 'We found that a single dose of WP (whole plant A. annua)
containing 24 mg/kg artemisinin reduces parasitemia more effectively than a
comparable dose of purified drug'.
The low dose of the drug was as
effective as the high dose but the effect seems to fade away after 72 hours and
hence multiple doses of the drug would be necessary to treat the malarial
Further, using the powdered dried leaves of
the whole plant instead of the purified form of artemisinin, can greatly help
in reducing the cost of malarial treatment as the plant can be readily grown in
most climates. Moreover, harvesting and pulverizing the leaves and checking out
their potency and making capsules out of them are simple and cost-effective
The scientists believe that the
potency of this simple plant as an anti malarial therapy could help local
business and could also function as a socio economic stimulus in developing