Artemisinin from Sweet Wormwood: A Promising Cancer Treatment Ingredient?

Artemisinin is a chemical compound from a traditional Chinese herb, Artemisia annua. Commonly known as sweet wormwood, this plant is claimed to offer certain benefits for the treatment of cancer.

Research points out that artemisinin may be potent enough to impede tumor growth and metastasis. 

But, this is research done with animal models and no trials in humans have shown that these benefits are also applicable to us. 

This is why more research s necessary to determine the benefits, if any, of artemisinin for the treatment of cancer in humans. 

Artemisinin Explained

This compound is acquired from sweet wormwood which is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. 

It originates from Asia and has fern-like foliage and yellow flowers. For centuries, it’s been used in traditional and homeopathic treatments for health issues like inflammation, headaches, fever, bacterial infections, etc. 

According to the WHO, a form of artemisinin is recommended for the treatment of serious malaria.  

It’s also praised for its anticancer characteristics, although there’s a lack of data showing its effect on cancer in humans. According to some research, artemisinin reacts with iron and forms free radicals in the body.

These compounds destroy cancer and cancer cells absorb iron and thus, they’re potentially more prone to being damaged by these free radicals. 

A review of studies found the following: 

  • Artemisinin and its synthetic forms can impact the cancerous cells in combination with chemotherapy
  • More studies are necessary to find the influence of artemisinin in humans
  • The sizes of the study are small so the results aren’t reliable 

Although there are insufficient large-scale studies about the effects of artemisinin on cancer in humans, there’s hope, according to some scientists.

How Is Artemisinin Used?

Since the scientific community has yet to find the effects of this compound on humans, it’s not used for the treatment of cancer. However, some individuals take it as a natural cure for numerous conditions, and as a medication, it can be found in oral tablets, injections, cream, and suppository forms. 

Some individuals also consume between 4 and 9 grams of dried Artemisia annua in boiling water as a tea for fever and malaria treatment. 

Are There Any Risks from Taking Artemisinin? 

Although artemisinin is naturally-occurring, it has risks associated with its use. Side effects like skin rashes, dizziness, ear ringing, and hearing loss are possible.