derived from the ‘sweet wormwood’ plant, Artemsia annua, which has been used to treat infections and other illnesses in China for centuries. Interestingly, artemsia was lost as an herbal remedy in China until 1970 when an ancient Chinese medical manual dating back to 340 AD was found.
Artemesinin – the active factor in the plant – was found to have strong anti-malarial properties in the 1970’s and the drug is used to treat severe malaria and schistosoma infections in the U.S..
Artesunate’s anti-oxidant reducing capabilities can expose red blood cells to high free radical levels and its ability to induce cancerous cells to commit suicide (apoptosis) has lead it to be considered as a chemotherapeutic agent.
Malaria – In April 2009 the FDA approved CoArtem which contains a derivative of artemesinin and a broad spectrum antibiotic called lumefantrine, for use in severe malaria. Upon binding to infected red blood cells artesunate triggers the release of oxygen and carbon-based free radicals that attack proteins in the parasites.
Herpesviruses – Cell culture experiments indicated artesunate was effective at significantly reducing viral protein production in HHV-6A infected cells. A 2005 in vitro study suggested artesunate, particularly in combination with mirabavir, was broadly effective against cytomegaloviruses. A small human study suggested it was effective at stalling or reducing cytomegalovirus activity in some transplant patients.
Because artesunate inhibits HHV-6 early in its life cycle it may hold special promise in the kind of smoldering infections that may occur in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Artesunate reduced HHV6 loads in a child with herpes associated myocarditis.
The HHV-6 Foundation rates artesunate as being ‘very effective’ in treating HHV6 in vitro, and states it can cross the blood-brain barrier and is low risk.
Artesunate May Work in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Because..
it may be able to reduce herpesvirus activity in some patients. It’s use, however, is highly experimental.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Studies
A 2022 retrospective study from Ukraine found that artesunate (100 mgs/day) was more effective than valacyclovir or valganciclovir in reducing HHVV-6/7 infection in ME/CFS.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Doctor’s Report
According to a patient report of an April 2009 lecture, Dr. Paul Cheney reported that artesunate is now a key factor in his treatment protocol and that one physician is finding it helpful in autism. As of 2022, Dr. Chia is reportedly using artesunate in combination with Equilibriant and other therapies.