Artemisinin has been used by the Chinese culture for thousands of years. It has also gained acceptance for the clinical treatment of drug resistant falciparum malaria, and more recently, it has been found to be helpful with various cancers.
The mechanism of action with this herb
Both cancer cells and the malaria parasite will sequester iron, often accumulating as much as 1000 times more iron than normal cells might store. Artemisinin contains two oxygen atoms that are capable of breaking down in the presence of this high concentration of iron, thus creating very reactive free radicals that are capable of killing the malaria parasites as well as cancerous cells.
Studies with arteminsinin and cancer
For breast cancer- in order 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 cells with holotransferrin, a compound normally found in the body that carries iron to the cells. Then the team dosed the cells with artemesinin. 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. Lai hypothesized that, since breast cancer cells contains five to 15 more receptors than normal cells, it will absorb iron more readily and is therefore more susceptible to artemesinin’s attack. Read more about this study.
For other cancers- Artemisinin is also undergoing additional research and testing for the treatment of various cancer cells, with some Chinese scientists demonstrating that artemisinin has significant anticancer effects against human hepatoma cells. It 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.
Because of its excellent safety profile, artemesinin could be a consideration for people for whom conventional treatments have failed, or by those who wish to avoid conventional treatments. With its unique ability to target cancer cells, Artemisinin may offer those suffering with cancer the possibility of using a non-toxic treatment that is both inexpensive and readily available
Dr Len Saputo on the use of Artemisinin for cancer
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 3 days of treatment. Therefore it is recommended 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 2 – 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, and those with a sensitive stomach may prefer to take their dosage with a meal that also includes some healthy fats.