(Wormwood) - From Malaria To Cancer
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Use for Malaria
Use for Cancer
and Side Effects
Many marvels of modern medicine are discovered
by accident. Some of these include: -
1. The discovery of
penicillin by Alexander Fleming.
2. The use of saw palmetto to prevent
benign prostate enlargement.
3. Digoxin to enhance cardiac
4. Gingko to reduce vascular viscosity and increase blood
Recently, another ancient herb called artemisinin was
discovered. History documentation showed that it was used to treat intestinal parasitic infections,
hemorrhoids (its an anti-inflammatory) and malaria as early as 2000 years
USE FOR MALARIA
for malaria was, however, lost over time. It was only rediscovered in an
archeological dig in the 1970s where its medicinal use was found in a
recipe inside a tomb. The formula was dated back to 168 B.C. where the
Chinese chemist isolated the primary active ingredient from the leafy
portion of plant called A. annua L.
In 1972, scientists in the
West called this crystalline compound "qinghaosu" or "artemisinin". Since
then, studies in China and Vietnam have confirmed that artemisinin is a
highly effective compound with close to 100
percent response rate for treating malaria. It has the ability
to destroy the malaria parasite by releasing high doses of free radicals
that attack the cell membrane of the parasite in the presence of high iron
concentration. In fact, over one million malaria patients have been cured
via this method. Their symptoms also
subsided in a matter of days.
However, the treatment
using this herb to treat malaria is not approved for use in the U.S.A due
to the concern that it has a 21 percent recrudescent rate. Scientists
believe that this is more likely due to patients not taking the compound
for a long period. Many of them actually stop taking it as soon as
their symptoms subside.
Artemisinin comes in a few
derivatives, including the oil soluble artemether, which has been found to
induce neurotoxic symptoms in animals in high dose (but not reported in
humans). For those who are technically inclined, the activities of all
artemisinin derivatives are dependent on their internal endoperoxide
bridge. It is therefore a close relative of hydrogen peroxide therapy.
While the exact mechanism is still under intense research, it has been
shown that this herb works via highly reactive oxygen-based free radicals
that becomes activated in the presence of iron. Iron is an oxidant, and
our body tries to protect us from excessive iron moving it to a binded
state such as hemoglobin and enzymes. The malaria parasite accumulates
iron by infecting iron-rich red blood cell. Excessive iron that is spilled
onto the surrounding tissues will activate the artemisinin to generate a
burst of free radicals that attack the iron rich cells, killing the
parasite in the process.
In other words, this compound works well in an iron rich environment (remember that
malaria lives in the red blood cell rich in iron) through the release of
free radicals that serve to damage the malaria organism. It is
also interesting to note that drugs known to work by enhancing oxygen
radical effects such as doxorubicin can enhance the effects of
For malaria, there is no resistance nor toxicity at
the dosage of 3 grams, (about 50mg/kg) administered over a 3 to 5 day
period. It is especially useful in the treatment of drug resistant
Outside of the United States, artemisinin is the number
one natural herb used for malaria treatment.
THE USE FOR
So far, the most extensive study on the use of
Artemisinin as an anti-cancer agent was carried out by bioengineering
scientists Drs Narenda Singh and Henry Lai of the University of
Washington. This study was reported in the Journal Life Science (70
Iron is required for cell division, and it is well
known that many cancer cell types selectively accumulate iron for this
purpose. Most cancers have large number of iron attracting transferring
receptors on their cell surface compared to normal cells. In laboratory
studies of radiation, resistant breast cancer cells that has high propensity for accumulating iron revealed that
artemisinin has 75 percent cancer cell killing properties in a 8 hours and
almost 100 percent killing properties within 24 hours when these cancer
cells are "pre-loaded" with iron after incubation with
holotransferrin. On the other hand, the normal cells remained virtually
unharmed. Another study showing the effectiveness of artesunate in
treatment of cancer was also published in Oncology (April 2001: 18(4):
The fact that iron content of cancer cells is high has
also been used in another anti-cancer therapy called Zoetron therapy,
where iron containing cancer cells are induced into motion using a
magnetic device to induce resonance. Resonance generate heat. Cancer
cells are more sensitive to heat compared to normal healthy cells. When
cancer cells are heated to a certain temperature, they die while normal
cells still survive.
effective against a wide variety of cancers as shown in a series of
successful experiments. The most effective is leukemia and colon cancer.
Intermediate activities were also shown against melanoma, breast, ovarian,
prostate, CNS and renal cancer. Although artemisinin is
insoluble in water, it is able to cross the blood brain barrier (the water
soluble artesunate is the weakness among the derivates) and may be
particularly suitable for curing brain tumors, together with Poly-MVA (an
studies, iron needs to be added to enhance the effects of artemisinin.
Within the human body, no such addition is necessary, as iron already
exist in the body. It can also be taken orally and therefore
high doses are not required. Some people believe that as nitrogen
(tertiary amine) is absent in ART, cancer cells cannot get rid of it once
it enters into the cancer cell. As a result, ART stays in the cell much
In addition to
the high affinity for iron in aggressive cancer cell types, most cancer
cells also lack the enzyme catalayse and gutathione peroxidase. Catalayse
breaks down hydrogen peroxide. A low catalayse content means a higher
hydrogen peroxide load, which can release superoxide free radicals when
properly stimulated to do so. This is in fact one common mechanism among
chemotherapeutic agents as well as vitamin C. These traits make cancer
cells more susceptible to oxidative damage as compare to normal cells in
the presences of hydrogen peroxide. For this reason, administration of vitamin C in high dose is
acceptable, although a gap of 2-3 hours is preferred.
According to Dr Rowen , a naturally oriented medical
doctor and editor of the medical newsletter " Second Opinion" , the
Hoang family of physicians in Vietnam had used arteminisin in the
treatment of cancer for years. They have reported that, over a 10-year
period, more than 400 patients were treated with artemisinin in
conjunction with a comprehensive anti-cancer program with 50 to 60 percent
long-term remission rate. The safety record of artemisinin has well been
studied for over 25 years. No significant toxicity in short-term use for
malaria at high dose of up to 70 mg/kg per day has been
Artemisinin is not a
stand-alone chemotherapeutic agent. A combination of
nutritional supplements (such as green tea, CoQ10 and pancreatic enzyme)
as well as a good anti-cancer diet is required.
ART may be administered orally, with a 32
percent bioavailability as compared to injections. It is highly bound to
membranes. Laboratory measurement of its serum level is therefore not
There are three common forms of artemsinin. The water
soluble form is called artesunate . It is the most active and the least
toxic. It also has the shortest life within the body Artemether is the
lipid soluble form. It has the longest life but also the most toxic in
high dosage which is seldom needed. The biggest advantage of artemether is
that it can cross the blood brain barrier. Artemisinin is the active
parent compound of the plant. It's half-life is intermediate. It is
also very safe, and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Some
clinicians prefer to use a combination of all three forms, while others
tend to favor the use of artemisinin alone with great success.
TOXICITY AND SIDE
High doses of artemisinin can produce neurotoxicity such as gait disturbances, loss of spinal
and pain response, respiratory depression, and ultimately cardiopulmonary
arrest in large animals.
In human beings, there are very few reports of adverse effects
except for one case of first-degree heart block. According to Robert
Rowen, MD, there is a dose related decrease in reticulocyte count for 4
days after artesunate or artemether at doses of 4 mg/kg per day for 3
days. However, the count returns to normal by day 14. When artemisinin
suppositories are used, doses as high as 40 mg/kg per day have no effects
on the reticulocyte count. In a study, it was reported that up to 35
percent of the volunteers had some form of transient drug induced fever.
When ART is tested with monkeys, they showed no toxicity when
they received up to 292 mg/kg of artemether over 1 to 3 months. This is equal to a human dose of 20,000 mg for a 70
kg male (Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2(1):31-36
1982). In another study, there was also no sign of toxicity in over 4000
patients. This does not exclude possible cases of long-term cumulative
toxicity which is unknown at this time.
artesminin should be taken within 30 days of radiation therapy because of
possible free iron leaks to the surrounding tissues after radiation
b. Preliminary laboratory studies include: CBC,
reticulocyte count, liver function test, ferritin, TIBC, ESR, C reactive
protein, and appropriate tumor markers. If the iron load is low,
supplementing iron for a few days can be considered prior to starting
c. Tumor markers may increase during the initial
stages as the tumor starts breaking down.
d. Vitamin E may work
against the effectiveness of ART in vitro. However, this has not been
shown to be a concern in human clinical cases.
The therapeutic dose ranges from 200 mg a
day up to 1,000 a day (in divided doses ) depending on cancer types
and the source of the herb. In laboratory studies,
significant cell toxicity is shown to have been effected at dosage as
little as 1-2 mg/kg body weight .
The exact dosage is highly controversial. In addition
to the lack of clinical trials and individual variations, the dosage is
highly dependent on the purity and potency of the herb itself. The same
100 mg capsules from one manufacturer may have different and varied effect
from another manufacturer.
Artemisinin should always be taken with food.
Cod liver oil , cottage cheese, or fish oil may be administered at the
same time to enhance absorption. Generally, 400 to 800 mg per day can
be used for at least 6 to 12 months. After that, it can be tapered off
Always take artesminin 2-3 hours aside from other
antioxidants such as Vitamin C.
Artemisinin is a "cooling herb" in the
traditional Chinese medicine perspective, and some may find it too
"cooling" with symptoms such as tingling. If this occurs, then the dosage
should be reduced.
Despite its seemingly high degree of
effectiveness, it is important to note that artemisinin is not a stand-alone compound. Concurrent use of high dose pancreatic enzyme , daily
enema, liver detoxification, and periodic laboratory measurement should
also be considered as part of an overall aggressive anti-cancer
to the increasing popularity of this product, the consumer should exercise
extreme caution and buy only from the most reputable supplier. Only genuine and pure artemisinin should be used, and
only buy from sources you are familiar with. There is tremendous variation
in the potency of the herb. A 100 mg of artemisinin from one source
may be many times more potent than the same 100 mg from another source.
Only buy from source you can trust, and not be fooled by inexpensive
Since the herb comes from China and South-east Asia,
proper quality assurance on purity and
standardization is of tremendous importance. High-grade artemisinin must
always be confirmed by independent laboratory analysis on a batch by batch
basis to ensure consistence and purity.
Lastly, always check
with your health care professional prior to starting this herb.
Read also: Artemisinin Research Study
M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M. is a specialist in
Preventive and Anti-Aging Medicine. He is currently the Director of
Medical Education at the Academy of Anti-Aging Research, U.S.A. He
received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and
his Doctor of Medicine degree from Loma Linda University School of
Medicine, California. He also holds a Masters of Public Health degree
and is Board Certification in Anti-aging Medicine by the American
Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Lam pioneered the formulation of the
three clinical phases of aging as well as the concept of diagnosis and
treatment of sub-clinical age related degenerative diseases to deter the
aging process. Dr. Lam has been published extensively in this field. He is
the author of The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity
(available on-line). He also serves as editor of the Journal of
For the latest anti-aging related
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