Artemisinin: Strong power from within
It has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years – Artemisia annua, also known as annual mugwort. The sesquiterpene artemisinin is obtained from its extract. This valuable secondary plant substance is used in traditional medicine, including in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), against infections and dangerous inflammations.
However, the benefits and healing power of artemisinin can be exploited much more for our health. Scientific evidence, for example, is its use as a malaria drug. As such, it has been recognized by the WHO since 2002 and is used worldwide. In 2015 the Chinese Youyou Tu received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the decisive proof that artemisinin throttles the growth of malaria pathogens (plasmodia).
This discovery is currently enriching medical research beyond the malaria pathogen. Researchers are examining whether this can lead to further beneficial insights into the fight against chronic diseases such as cancer. Research carried out over the past ten years has shown that artemisinin and iron ions form free radicals that attack malaria pathogens. Some scientists believe that the highly active substance acts in a similar way on cancer cells, e.g. B. in the accompanying complementary oncological treatment of prostate cancer, since artemisinin reacts accordingly in studies with the high iron concentrations in tumor cells. In addition, after promising in-vitro laboratory tests, researchers are investigating further anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic (throttling the vascular growth, e.g. in tumors).
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