As an international team of researchers found out, extracts of the medicinal plant Artemisia annua are effective against SARS-CoV-2 under laboratory conditions and inhibit infections. Similar means are already being used in some African countries – against the advice of the WHO.
So far, most countries in the world have relied on vaccines during the corona crisis, which are intended to prevent illness with COVID-19. However, there are also some research projects that focus on drugs for people who have become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. So far, there are few treatment options against COVID-19 whose effectiveness has also been proven in studies. Research therefore focuses on antiviral drugs and drugs that are used against malaria.
Artemisia annua – Alternative to Vaccine
Herbal treatments used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Africa are also the subject of research. A team of scientists from Denmark, Germany and Hong Kong has now found that several extracts of annual mugwort (Artemisia annua) are active against SARS-CoV-2 pathogens under laboratory conditions. The necessary plant material is provided by ArtmiLife Inc., a company based in the USA that specializes in the marketing of products based on Artemisia annua.
Artemisia annua is a medicinal plant found in parts of Asia and Europe. Active ingredients from the extracts of the plant are also used to treat malaria, with the most common treatments being based on the active ingredient artemisinin. Treatment with the Artemisia derivatives is now part of the standard treatment for malaria worldwide and is even used in newborns. But the artemisinin derivatives artesunate and artemether are also used to treat malaria patients and are very safe. In the current study published in the journal Scientific Reports was published and in which the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam was also involved, the researchers now wanted to find out whether artemisinin or its derivatives can be effective for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
To do this, they infected the tissue of primates and humans with the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen and then added the plant extracts to the cell cultures. First, the scientists tested the extracts on the kidney cells of the Ethiopian green monkey. It was shown that the extracts were effective against different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. Also, when they tested the extract and its derivatives in human lung cells, they found that all three treatment methods were active against the coronavirus and inhibited the infections. The researchers want to investigate the results further in clinical studies.
In some African countries, the medicinal plant Artemisia annua has been used against Corona for a long time since the beginning of the Corona crisis – in the form of the “Covid-Organics” preparation developed in Madagascar in mid-2020. Ten percent of the world’s annual mugwort production grows in Madagascar. Administered as a herbal tea, the drug is said to have helped numerous COVID-19 patients. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the use of the agent against COVID-19, as the effectiveness of the agent has not been proven by clinical studies.
In vitro efficacy of artemisinin‑based treatments against SARS‑CoV‑2