The Artemisia Oils – Part 2: Thoughts on Malaria and Cancer

Artemisia annua, also called “Sweet Wormwood”, is another amazing medicinal herb from the Artemisia genus. Extracts of Artemisia annua have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over thousands of years. The plant has stirred up strong interest over the last decades because of its highly efficient results on treating Malaria. Until today Malaria is considered one of the most life threatening diseases that every year takes over 2 million lives, especially in Third World countries.

It is true, like with many microbial diseases and the anti-biotic strategies of modern medicine, Malaria was controlled for some time – at least to some degree – with chloroquine and quinolines. But a drug-resistant Malaria parasite developed in the late 1960s. This caused intensified research in China which led to a kind of “re-discovery” of Artemisia annua, a special type of the various Artemisias, and its more acute implementation into the Chinese medical care system. Together with its special “active compound”, a sesquiterpene lactone called “artemisinin”, sweet Annie (as the plant is also called) has in the meantime saved hundreds of thousands of lives from Malaria, especially on the African continent. In 2015 the Chinese research scientist Tu Youyou was honoured with the Nobel Prize in medicine for her decades long work on Artemisia annua and its amazing therapeutic effects on Malaria.

Sweet Wormwood and cancer

Already in 1994, Prof. Henry Lai and his assistant, Prof. Narendra Singh from the University of Washington, USA had begun to speculate that Artemisia annua could also be effective in the fight against cancer. Based on the findings with regards to the artemisinin compound and its success against Malaria, the two researchers discovered a promising potential treatment for cancer. The results showed that it is able to target breast cancer cells with surprising efficacy. The Journal “Life Sciences” described how the artemisinin extract from the Artemsia annua is able to kill virtually all human breast cancer cells exposed to it within 16 hours. What the treatment had to add to the artemisinin or its derivative was iron.

“Cancer cells need a lot of iron to replicate DNA when they divide,” explained Lai. “As a result, cancer cells have a higher concentration of iron than normal cells. When we began to understand how artemisinin worked, I began to wonder if we could use that knowledge to work on cancer cells.”

Translated from

Here is a short protocoll:

“In the current study, the researchers subjected sets of breast cancer cells and normal breast cells to doses of holotransferrin (which binds with transferrin receptors on cancer cells to transport iron into cells), dihydro-artemisinin (a more water-soluble form of artemisinin) and a combination of both compounds. Cells exposed to just one of the compounds showed no appreciable effect. Normal breast cells, exposed to both compounds, exhibited a minimal effect. But the response by cancer cells when hit with first holotransferrin, then dihydro-artemisinin, was dramatic. After eight hours, just 25 percent of the cancer cells remained. By the time 16 hours had passed, nearly all the cells were dead.”

What was also interesting to see was that in certain experiments where breast cancer cells were not responding to radiation therapies they responded to the treatment with artemisinin from sweet Wormwood. And the idea to use an iron compound like holotransferrin to act as a “Trojan horse” for the “artemisinin warriors” to be rapidly transported into the cancer cells is absolutely fabulous. The cancer cells recognize holotransferrin as a natural protein, and they absorb more iron because they need more iron for their faster DNA replication. The applied artemisinin can then release aggressive oxygen radicals from its bound hydrogen peroxide.

“In cell cultures, artemisinin alone is about 100 times more effective in killing cancer cells than known cytostatics.”

Lai, A. Hamacher-Brady, H.A. Stein, S. Turschner, I. Toegel, R. Mora, N. Jennewein, T. Efferth, R. Eils, N.R. Brady: Artesunate activates mitochondrial apoptosis in breast cancer cells via iron-catalysed lysosomal reactive oxygen species production. J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 25; 286 (8): 6587-6601, DOI: 10.1074 / jbc.M110.210047.

All this experience and research shows again that we are starting to understand that conventional therapies should always be adjusted, better even: questioned and, if possible, at least supplemented with natural therapies. It should become a principle to ask Nature’s help in all cases, to scan what is already available in the world of ethno-medical experiences, to not be shy to consult folk traditions, ancient texts, shamans, healers… as a necessary act to enlarge our visions and create ever new “therapeutic standards” more in tune with Nature’s guidance.

Regarding Artemisia annua, the famous German BioQuant Center at Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) had studies done on breast cancer with a special derivative of artemisinin called “artesunate”. This research was published in the “Journal of Biological Chemistry”. The results of it were highly promising.

Cf. A. Hamacher-Brady, H.A. Stein, S. Turschner, I. Toegel, R. Mora, N. Jennewein, T. Efferth, R. Eils, N.R. Brady: Artesunate activates mitochondrial apoptosis in breast cancer cells via iron-catalysed lysosomal reactive oxygen species production. J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 25; 286 (8): 6587-6601, DOI: 10.1074 / jbc.M110.210047.

Even more impressive results were achieved when the cancer research scientists in the US exposed leukemia (blood cancer) cells to the same combined procedure with artemisinin and holetransferrin. These cancer cells were even eliminated within eight hours. Lai explained: “They have one of the highest iron concentrations among cancer cells. Leukemia cells can have more than 1,000 times the concentration of iron that normal cells have.” The next step, according to Lai, is animal testing. Limited tests have been done in that area. In an earlier study, a dog with bone cancer so severe it couldn’t walk made a complete recovery in five days after receiving the treatment.

And the essential oil in this?

Sweet Wormwood, apart from its different bio-chemical compounds such as the sesquiterpene lactone artemisinin which was found in the herbal extracts, releases also a number of aromatic volatile compounds which show up via distillation. This could be highly interesting in terms of further research on what we can call “curative synergistic effects”: The complimentary action of different compounds which show up in different forms of extracts from the same plant. Artemisia annua essential oil for example has camphor, 1,8 cineole, β-myrcene and β- germacrene as major ingredients. But it does not show a lot of artemisinin. And as always, the total is more than the collection of parts. This is specifically true for therapies. Using a fortified single molecule like artemisinin is certainly a good procedure. But a combination can highly increase the promise of a successful healing.

Making use of the plant and essential oil:

  • using the Artemisia annua leaves for infusions
  • adding the complete powdered plant as a mix to some food or drink
  • application of its essential oil, drop-wise orally and/or externally in a massage oil
  • using the artemsinin extract together with the “Trojan horse” strategy

The essential oil is still quite rare. It can be found today in India, China and Vietnam. In India it is already used in certain cosmetic and sanitary products. The fact that artemisinin taken together with tea from Artemisia leaves in the treatment of Malaria and thereby allowing to reduce the dosage of artemisinin is definitely a hint for further research on synergistic plant therapies.

Since the essential oil is obtained from the distillation of the leaves it could be that – regarding Malaria – “the oil could be protecting the active molecule, artemisinin, from degradation in the human organism, leaving the molecule acting longer or even acting synergistically, and increasing the artemisinin penetration into the Plasmodium membrane

Compounds in a plant are complex alchemical mixtures developed over millions of years. The plant knows best why and how… So then, why not look for “active ingredients” yes, but supplement them with a maximum of support from

  • other parts of the plant
  • other ways of extraction of the plant – alcoholic, CO2, distillation…
  • other regional expressions of the same plant
  • etc.

Looking at practical treatments

Even more aggressive types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer or – as we have seen – acute leukemia – can be successfully treated with Artemisia annua. These cancers show an extremely fast speed of cell division and contain higher iron concentrations within the cells. Research has shown that artemisinin also influences what science calls “neo-angiogenesis”, which means that Artemisia annua can prevent the aggressive forms of tumors from creating new paths in the organism via metastases.

“As part of complementary tumor therapy, cancer patients are primed with iron before using artemisinin (1–2 days, e.g. Ferinject, Ferlecitin). Then 3-6 milligrams of artemisinin are given per kilo of body weight. After six weeks there is a further priming with iron, then another six weeks of artemisinin. Artemisinin can target cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed… In cell cultures, artemisinin alone is about 100 times more effective in killing cancer cells than known cytostatics”, said Lai.

A. Hamacher-Brady, H.A. Stein, S. Turschner, I. Toegel, R. Mora, N. Jennewein, T. Efferth, R. Eils, N.R. Brady: Artesunate activates mitochondrial apoptosis in breast cancer cells via iron- catalysed lysosomal reactive oxygen species production. J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 25; 286 (8): 6587-6601, DOI: 10.1074 / jbc.M110.210047.

And here, to conclude, the story of Amedeo Gioia

In September 2013, Amedeo was struck by a heart attack and hospitalized at San Filippo Neri Hospital, Italy. Three by-passes were applied. Having shown blood loss in the catheter, he underwent an urological examination from which he was diagnosed with the presence of a very large bladder cancer with prostate and peritoneum metastasis which, given his condition, could not be operated surgically… Due to the delicate state of health of Amedeo (his heart problems), the doctors refused to take responsibility for operating him, and he was sent home with a life expectancy of a few weeks, or at most a couple of months. He was also advised to do chemo-cycles that “perhaps” would lengthen his life by a few more months.

With the intention of finding something that would help him endure the pain, which in the meantime had become atrocious, Amedeo, with the help of his children, began to search the internet. Thus, he ended up discovering Artemisia annua and the study which showed the in vitro efficacy of artemisinin in killing cancer cells.

Having found no dosage on the use of Artemisia annua, Amedeo relied on intuition, common sense and also on luck. He opted for the hydro-alcoholic extract of Artemisia annua. And reading that the cancer cells are loaded with iron, Amedeo decided to also take a restorative iron ampoule, one in the early morning for 2 days in a row, and then suspend it to not risk feeding the tumor.


Therapy followed by Amedeo Gioia:

This is the exact therapy that Amedeo also published on his Facebook group

  • Iron ampoules: Amedeo used the reconstituting iron ampoules, COMPLEX VIALS, which are given to children (as they are more digestible and available), only the first two days of therapy as according to studies published on the web, Artemisia annua affects iron-laden cells. Iron has always to be taken an hour before the Artemisia hydro-alcoholic extract.
  • Artemisia annua: For 2 weeks in a row, he took the hydro-alcoholic solution of Artemisia annua. The dosage used by Amedeo was as follows: Artemisa annua has always been taken during meals (never on an empty stomach), 1 tablespoon diluted in coffee, or another drink during breakfast, 3 tablespoons diluted in a drink (Amedeo has used “chinotto”) during lunch, and 3 tablespoons diluted in a drink during dinner (Amedeo has always used chinotto). He continued until he finished the bottle of hydroalcoholic extract, equal to 500 ml.
  • Vegan diet: Amedeo, in addition to taking Artemisia annua, in order not to feed Cancer, decided to follow an “almost vegan” diet with some occasional snacks. He therefore excluded from his diet any type of protein of animal origin: therefore no milk, dairy products, eggs and meat that can be replaced with legumes, peanuts and dried fruit.

Cf. “Those of Artemisia Annua”,

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