Pure artemisinin or Qinghaosu, the active constituent of the herb sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), and oil derived from the same plant, Artemisinin, also called qinghaosu, antimalarial drug derived from the sweet wormwood plant, Artemisia annua. Artemisinin is a sesquiterpene lactone and is distilled from the dried leaves or flower clusters of A. annua. The antipyretic properties of the plant were first recognized in the 4th century ce by Chinese physicians, who called the plant qinghao and recommended a natural remedy in the form of qinghao tea. In the following centuries, this remedy was commonly prescribed for hemorrhoids and malaria. The active agent, called qinghaosu, was isolated from the plant in the 1970s this compound became widely known as artemisinin.
Artemisinin and Cancer
With the knowledge of a high accumulation of iron in cancer cells, researchers Henry Lai and Narenda Singh of the University of Washington became interested in possible Artemisinin activity against malignant cells. In 1995, they published a paper in Cancer Letters concerning the use of artemisinin against numerous cancer cell lines. This article has mobilized interest in artemisinin as an addition to anticancer treatmen. There are a number of properties shared by cancer cells, which favor the selective toxicity of artemisinin against cancer cell lines, and against cancer.
The effect of artemisinin
Cancer cells take up more iron then normal cells. Artemisinin is attracted to these high iron cells and selectively goes to them. Once inside the cancer cells it reacts with the iron causing free radial formation which kills the cancer cells. Giving artemisinin to people with malaria or cancer results in destruction of these abnormal cells and leaves normal cells unaffected. Artemisinin is the active compound of the plant. It too can cross the blood brain barrier and is very safe. "By itself, artemisinin is about 100 times more selective in killing cancer cells as opposed to normal cells," Lai said. "In this study, the new artemisinin compound was 34,000 times more potent in killing the cancer cells as opposed to their normal cousins.
Artemisinin and Malaria
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. Sweet wormwood was used in ancient Chinese therapy to treat various illnesses, including fevers typical of malaria. In the 1970s, Chinese scientists rediscovered it and identified its active ingredient, artemisinin, and artemisinin is now extracted from sweet wormwood grown commercially in China, Southeast Asia and Africa. National Institutes of Health, follow reports in 2009 of the emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria parasites in western Cambodia.
History of Artemisinin
There is proof of artemisinin use over 2,000 years ago to treat malaria in China, nonetheless, it has only been in recent years this miracle compound became primary to restoring malaria patients to health worldwide. The story of artemisinin began in China in the late 1960s. After a brief respite, lasting only a few decades, malaria was once again on the increase. Artemisinin was first extracted from the herb Artemisia annua Artemisinin by Chinese scientists in the early 1970s for the treatment of malaria. The plant Artemisinin has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2000 years for treatment of fever and chill, two signs of malaria infection. Artemisinins can be used alone, but this leads to a high rate of recrudescence and other drugs are required to clear the body of all parasites and prevent recurrence.
The artemisinin derivatives are active against all species of Plasmodium and are able to rapidly kill all the blood stages of the parasite. In 1971, scientists demonstrated the plant extracts had antimalarial activity in primate models, and in 1972, the active ingredient, artemisinin (formerly referred to as arteannuin), was isolated and its chemical structure described. Artemisinin may be extracted using a low boiling point solvent, such as diethylether, and is found in the glandular trichomes of the leaves, stems, and inflorescences, and it is concentrated in the upper portions of plant within new growth. At present, artemisinin compounds are derived from a raw substance extracted from the plant Artemisia annua L. Cultivation of this plant requires a minimum of 6 month.
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