Artemisinin extract can be taken orally, injected into your muscle, or inserted into the rectum as a suppository. This extract is associated with few side effects, but it shouldn’t be combined with other medication unless your doctor approves.
Some common side effects of artemisinin are:
You shouldn’t take artemisinin if you’re taking anti-seizure medications. It can induce seizures or make the medications less effective. People with gastrointestinal problems shouldn’t take artemisinin.
The anti-malarial drug artesunate has shown anticancer activity in vitro and in preliminary animal experiments, but experience in patients with cancer is very limited. Pre-clinical studies in dogs indicated morbidity at high dosage levels. This study evaluated the effects of artesunate in canine cancer cell lines and in canine cancer patients. Four canine cell lines were tested in vitro for sensitivity towards artesunate and dihydroartemisinin (DHA; active metabolite of artesunate). The half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values for artesunate or DHA were 2-60 μM in three cell lines, while one cell line was much less sensitive to artesunate (IC50 337 μM) than to DHA (IC50 50 μM). A safety/efficacy field study with artesunate was conducted in 23 dogs with non-resectable tumours.
Artesunate was administered for 7-385 days at a dosage of 651-1178 (median 922) mg/m2. No neurological or cardiac toxicity was observed and seven dogs exhibited no adverse effects at all. Fever and haematological/gastrointestinal toxicity, mostly transient, occurred in 16 dogs. One dog died from pneumonia. Plasma artesunate and DHA levels fell below the limit of detection within 8-12 h after artesunate administration, while levels after two hours were close to 1 μM. Artesunate produced a long-lasting complete remission in one case of cancer and short-term stabilization of another seven cases.
According to the case study reported in the Aug. 14 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a man with normal liver function experienced worsening abdominal pain and spikes in liver enzymes after taking a supplement containing 600 mg of artemisinin for 10 days.
Lyme borreliosis is associated with memory deficits. While this may be related to cerebral infection by Borrelia bacteria, it may also be caused by concomitant co-infection by Babesia protozoa. The anti-malarial artemisinin-derivative artesunate has been shown to be effective against a number of Babesia species and to have efficacy against human cerebral malaria. We hypothesised that concomitant administration of artesunate in Lyme borreliosis patients would help alleviate the severity of self-reported short-term memory impairment. This hypothesis was tested in a small pilot study in which patients were treated with both an intravenous antibiotic and oral artesunate (20mg four times per day); treatment was associated with a reduction in the severity of short-term memory difficulties (P≃0.08). In light of these findings, we recommend that a formal randomised, placebo-controlled study be carried out.
Artemisinin (called qinghaosu in Chinese) is found in the leaves of Artemisia annua (the sweet wormwood shrub) and has long been used as an herbal treatment in China. Although widely used in herbal supplements of U.S. manufacturers, until recently artemisinins were not available for medical use in the United States except from CDC under an investigational new drug protocol (1). In April 2009, an artemisinin combination therapy, artemether-lumefantnrine (Coartem [Novartis]), was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of malaria.* Artemisinin-containing therapies generally are considered safe, effective, and well-tolerated medications for the treatment of malaria caused by P. falciparum with no major side effects (2--4). Although hepatic toxicity in humans has been reported from ingestion of a wide range of herbal preparations, a search of the literature revealed no previously published reports of hepatic toxicity from an herbal supplement containing artemisinin. However, FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has additional reports of adverse events involving ingestion of artemisinin-containing dietary supplement products that were not included in this review (FDA, unpublished data, 2009).
Arthritis: 150 mg twice daily of Artemisia annua extract has been evaluated for 12 weeks in osteoarthritis. Contraindications.
It is a combination drug of two ingredients, neither of which has been approved in the U.S. One is artemether, a chemical derivative of artemisinin, an extract from the sweet wormwood bush that was used in Chinese medicine as a fever cure for 500 or 600 years. Artemether stays in the body for three days.
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