Artemisinin (Chinese wormwood)
has been used by the Chinese culture for thousands of years. It has gained acceptance in the clinical treatment of drug resistant falciparum malaria, and more recently, it has been found to be helpful for the treatment of various cancers.
Studies with arteminsinin
The success with this herb lies in the fact that both cancer cells and the malaria parasite sequester iron, often accumulating as much as 1000 times more iron than normal cells would store. Artemisinin contains two oxygen atoms that are capable of breaking down in the presence of this concentration of iron, thus creating very reactive free-radicals that are capable of killing the malaria parasites as well as any cancerous cells. Administering artemisinin to people with cancer results in the destruction of these abnormal cells, yet it leaves normal cells unaffected. This unique ability to target cancer cells makes Artemisinin a cancer smart-bomb.
Artemisinin offers those suffering with cancer the possibility of using a non-toxic treatment that is inexpensive and readily available. Because of its excellent safety profile it should be a consideration as a treatment when conventional treatments have failed to produce results, or by those individuals who refuse to take conventional therapies altogether.
Artemisinin is currently undergoing research and testing for the treatment of cancer, with some Chinese scientists showing that artemisinin has demonstrated significant anticancer effects against human hepatoma cells. Artemisinin has also been shown to reduce blood vessel formation and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor in some tissue cultures. More recently, pharmacological evidence demonstrates that the artemisinin-derivative dihydroartemisinin has the ability to target human metastatic melanoma cells.
Studies with breast cancer cells- To test artemesinin’s effect on breast cancer cells, bioengineers Henry Lai and Narendra Singh of the University of Washington, Seattle, enriched segregated normal breast cells and radiation-resistant cancerous ones with holotransferrin, a compound normally found in the body that carries iron to the cells. Then the team dosed the cells with artemesinin. As the pair reports in the 16 November issue of Life Sciences, almost all the cancer cells exposed to holotransferrin and artemesinin died within 16 hours. The compounds killed only a few of the normal cells. Lai believes that because a breast cancer cell contains five to 15 more receptors than normal, it absorbs iron more readily and hence is more susceptible to artemesinin’s attack. Read more about this study.
Dr Len Saputo on the use of Artemisinin for cancer
Finding Artemisinin Supplements:
There are three forms of artemisinin: artemisinin, artesunate, and artemether. All three are absorbed well when taken orally and all three will cross the blood brain barrier as well.
Dosage: Dosing the Artemisinin can be tricky, this is because the intestines have the ability to build up a resistance to absorbing this herb after just 3 days of treatment. Therefore it is wise to take the herb for a few days on, and then a few days off, as this resistance is easily reversible. With this in mind, an approximate dosage would be to take two – 200 mg tablets, taken 3 times per day for 3 days and then stopping for 4 days. Continue with this on and off again cycle, or take as directed by your holistic health care provider. This supplement is best absorbed when taken with a small amount of natural fats such as extra virgin olive oil or unrefined coconut oil. Those with a sensitive stomach may prefer to take their dosage with a meal that includes some healthy fats. This can be combined with an iron supplement to encourage the sequestering effect or when someone is anemic.