#12 – Artemisinin (Artemisia annua)

An article on this plant (Sweet Wormwood) was just recently sent to me by a caring and concerned friend.  The article raved about how efficient and effective this herb was at targeting and killing cancerous cells, especially when the dosage taken was paired with iron.  Throughout the internet there is a number of references to the medicinal properties of this plant.  It is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, referred to as Qinghaosu.  Studies on Qinghaosu have been conducted in relation to its anti-malarial properties as well as its potential anti-cancer properties.

When it comes to cancer, the claims on this herb are crazy.  Anytime I hear or read anything that sounds too good to be true I am very skeptical.  However, this herb has been used on humans for the treatment of malaria, so we know that human tolerance for specific dosages unique to malaria have been determined.  It’s efficacy in dealing with malaria is well documented, and many studies are available to support its use.  It was through these studies that the potential anti-cancer properties were identified, however, more study is required. Many drugs have started off life as a treatment for one human condition and then discovered to be effective in dealing with another completely unrelated condition, illness or disease.  For example,  I take a blood pressure medication daily but I don’t have high blood pressure.  I suffer with sinus-related migraines and a low dose BP medication taken daily has significantly alleviated my incident of migraine.  (Not the best example I know since it is all vascular…)  Anyway, in my case, this has helped when nothing else would.

I plan on doing more research on this particular item.  I’d love to find someone who has taken this particular remedy or supplement for cancer.  First hand knowledge is the best.  In the interim I will file this one under “future follow up.”  For those who are interested, there are plenty of scholarly articles out there, here’s an excerpt from one:

“Artesunate is a semisynthetic derivative from artemisinin, a natural product from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua L. It exerts antimalarial activity, and, additionally, artemisinin and its derivatives are active against cancer cells.”  (“Artesunate Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine Induces DNA Damage and Repair“.  Paul C.H. Li, Elena Lam, Wynand P. Roos, Malgorzata Z. Zdzienicka, Bernd Kaina, and Thomas Efferth.  American Association for Cancer Research.  2008)

#11 – Traditional Chinese Medicine

I believe that Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is something well worth exploring. There are centuries of knowledge and research that have contributed to the remedies that have been developed.  It would be a disservice on my part to even try and summarize the premise, philosophies or practices that support TCM.  I won’t even try to scratch the surface in this area, but rather use this blog entry to acknowledge the scope and range of herbal remedies that have been in use by practitioners of TCM.  In future posts I hope to cover a couple of very specific TCM remedies or herbal supports since they have been proposed for use by my husband.  There is a multitude of information available online that considers the TCM approach to immune system issues and disorders as well as specific diseases.  There are also a number of TCM dispensaries scattered around the country and likely one in your area.

If the TCM approach interests you, you may benefit greatly from locating a licenced practitioner and speaking directly with them.  Gather your information (things such as: qualifications of the practitioner, licences held, ingredients, source of the ingredients, dosage, preparation, cost, duration of treatment, anticipated outcome, studies, testimonials, etc.) before you commit to any purchases. The practitioner will ask you questions to identify all your symptoms and particular health concerns and develop a remedy tailored to your needs.  They may likely and understandably expect you to purchase the proposed remedy from them.  That’s why it is so important to know who you are dealing with and what they are selling (especially if you have any allergies or sensitivities).  Use your own good judgement to determine if this is the right course of action for you.   Again, should you determine that you wish to use TCM then this is something that you should discuss with your oncologist, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation – a well informed team is in your best interests.