You’ve heard about a Nobel prize winning antiparasitic drug called ivermectin. But there’s another Nobel prize winning antiparasitic drug called artemisinin.
Artemisinin is a molecule that is naturally made by Artemisia Annua (sweet wormwood).
I believe that repurposed antimicrobials have a role to play in the treatment of long haul syndromes. But because a lot of treatment options are experimental, we should focus more on the antimicrobials that are safe in healthy people.
However, some drugs turn out to be far less safe in chronic illness patients (antibiotics like penicillin and the flox antibiotics, COVID vaccines). What’s safe in healthy people doesn’t always translate to chronic illness patients. So there’s your informed consent. This is medical experimentation.
Hopefully this drug turns out to be “ivermectin #2”- another antimicrobial that will help a small portion of patients get their lives back.
Artemisinin is related to Artemisia Annua extract; however, the two are very different. Artemisia Annua extract has antimalarial properties even though it contains very little artemisinin (see this paper). I reacted negatively to Artemisia extract but not artemisinin.
Artemisia Annua and its extracts have been used in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa. In Chinese medicine it is called qinghaosu and it is used to treat fever and malaria. It is used to treat malaria in Africa.
Artemisinin is similar to other drugs such as artesunate. Artesunate is the drug of choice to treat malaria when it is combined with something else.
- Data here: What worked for 27 people who recovered - Feb 2023
- Theory here: The Connection Between Vaccine Injury, Long COVID, and ME/CFS
Here’s a good review paper: Immunoregulation by Artemisinin and Its Derivatives: A New Role for Old Antimalarial Drugs
It improves outcomes in different models of autoimmunity in animals.
While it works against malaria, the mechanism of action is unclear. Wikipedia states:
As of 2018, the exact mechanism of action of artemisinins has not been fully elucidated. Artemisinin itself is a prodrug of the biologically active dihydroartemisinin. This metabolite undergoes cleavage of its endoperoxide ring inside the erythrocytes. As the drug molecules come in contact with the haem (associated with the hemoglobin of the red blood cells), the iron(II) oxide breaks the endoperoxide ring. This process produces free radicals that in turn damage susceptible proteins, resulting in the death of the parasite. In 2016 artemisinin was shown to bind to a large number of targets suggesting that it acts in a promiscuous manner. Artemisinin’s endoperoxide moiety is however less sensitive to free iron(II) oxide, and therefore more active in the intraerythrocytic stages of P. falciparum . In contrast, clinical practice shows that unlike other antimalarials, artemisinin is active during all life cycle stages of the parasite.
Artemisinin has shown antirival effects against HIV in one study by Lubbe and colleagues (doi:10.1016/j.jep.2012.03.024).
Artemisia Annua extract (not quite artemisinin) shows limited effectiveness against Lyme. See Feng and colleagues.
Artesunate, which is in the artemisinins family with artemisinin, may improve short-term memory in Lyme borreliosis when combined with IV ceftriaxne. See Puri and colleagues.
iHerb sells artemisin under the Doctor’s Best brand (cheaper) and the Nutricology brand.
It’s a supplement so you can probably find it at other supplement retailers like Amazon Ebay etc.
This is an antimicrobial so I would expect that it is a double-edged sword in chronic illness patients. (Yes, you can be hurt by this. Start with low dosages and quit if things are going the wrong way.)
It has been sold as a supplement for a long time without issues; artesunate has been used extensively for malaria.