Many marvels of modern science are discovered by accident (i.e. Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin). It is in keeping with the more unusual, unplanned paths to discovery (or in this case rediscovery) that "artemisinin" made its way on the alternative cancer scene.
The compound we now know we "artemisinin" was first extracted by the Chinese thousands of years ago. It's traditional use has included both vermifugal (there is some wormwood in our Old Amish Dewormer) and as a treatment for malaria. The latter treatment was lost over time, but then rediscovered in an archaelogical dig in the 1970's - at which time, ancient medical remedies were found, translated, and published.
Today this wormwood extract is used in Asia and Africa to successfully treat malaria. Its mechanism is well-known: artemisinin reacts with a high concentration of iron (ferrous compounds) - which is exactly what is found in the malaria parasite. When artemisinin comes into contact with high iron concentrations, a chemical reaction is produced which creates free radicals that attack cell membranes, breaking them apart and killing the single-cell parasite.
One of the unique characteristics of breast cancer cells in humans is that they also metabolize and retain high ferrous concentrations. So the question arose: Might artemisinin do for breast cancer cells what it does for to the malaria parasite?
Research conducted at the University of Washington certainly suggests so, where administration of artemisinin killed 75% of breast cancer cells in vitro within eight hours; and nearly all cells, within 24 hours. (See discussion at right.) On a more empirical note, we discussed the administration of artemisinin with Asian clinicians who noted tremendous results WITHOUT first incubating cells with holotransferrin, or using other agents to heighten the ferrous concentration within breast cancer cells.
It would probably be premature to any artemisinin complex, including our own Artemis a breast cancer treatment. But results are sufficiently conclusive to at least justify its inclusion in a nutraceutical regimen for women looking for a natural solution that shows real promise, backed by solid clinical results.
Code 857 - Artemis (30 Caps) - $59.95 | Availabilityew nutraceuticals in the alternative cancer care firmament have come to the forefront under such unusual circumstances. Artemis, our brand for a potent combination of wormwood derivatives, contains pharmaceutical grade artensunate, artemeter, and artemisinin (see botanical distribution, or excellent dissertation on its pharmacokinetics, which includes an elaboration on its historical usage). Individually, or in combination, these compounds are already being used in Asia to treat fever, malaria (see origin as antimalarial drug; also, Cochrane review), hemorrhoids (it's an anti-inflammatory), and most recently breast cancer (see MSNBC article, "Chinese folk remedy fights cancer".) [We thought "Artemis" was an appropriate name, because not only was it an alliteral truncation of "artemisinin," but it is also the name for the Greek goddess of the hunt - who also defends women in labor, children, and small animals.]
30 Day Supply - Each cap contains Artesunate 50 mg., Artemether 40 mg., Artemisinin 50 mg., (Pharmaceutical grade).
Code 858 - Artemis II (30 Caps) - $19.95 | Availability
30 Day Supply - Each cap contains Artemisinin 100 mg. (Pharmaceutical grade).
How Ancient Wormwood Extracts Used to Treat Worms & Malaria Were Rediscovered As A Promising Alternative for Breast Cancer Treatment
[ U. of Wash. study ]
All three compounds are derived from the herb Artemisia annua L., locally known in Southeast Asia as "qing hao," which is a member of the "Asteraccae" family. (Common names include "sweet wormwood" or "annual wormwood".)
The earliest record of wormwood's medicinal use was found in a recipe inside a tomb during an archeological dig in the 1970's. This formula dates back to 168 B.C. (Qinghaosu Antimalaria Coordinating Research Group, 1979; Klayman, 1985). Chinese chemists isolated the primary active ingredient from the leafy portion of A. annua L. in 1972 and called the crystalline compound, "qinghaosu" - or "artemisinin" in the West (Klayman, 1985).
Our own sources for Artemis come from China, where doctors there are reporting very impressive results with the components used in Artemis - even without using holotransferrin.
None of this suggests that Artemis - or products like it - should be touted as "the cure for breast cancer." But given its relative low cost, low-toxicity dosage, and absence of contraindications, all women with breast cancer should be aware of it.
Toxicological Considerations: Although the dosage of Artemisinin compounds in Artemis is too low, at the recommended dosage, to pose toxicological risk, larger dosages should not be contemplated without the oversight of a physician who is well acquainted with the properties of Artemisinin and its compounds. (It should be pointed out that in cases involving acute malarial symptoms, dosages of Artemisinin may be administered that far exceed those that would be administered for breast cancer.
There has been some, expressed concern centering on possible neurotoxicity - (since a metabolite of artemisinin, dihydroartemisinin, is claimed to have shown neurotoxicity in various in vitro and in vivo assays). None of these concerns have manifested as actual neurotoxicity cases in the field -- and there may well be political factors that have initiated these concerns. Nonetheless, care should be exerted to provide maximum safety for the patient.
Other properties of this products key components: ß-Artemether - a white anhydrous crystalline powder, is a derivative of Artemisinin and is more chemically active than its parent (WHO, 1986). Technically, it's chemical name is: [3R-(3a, 5aB, 6B, 8aB, 9a,10a, 12B, -12aR*)]-Decahydro-10-methoxy-3, 6, 9-trimethyl-3, 12-epoxy-12H-pyrano[4,3-jl-1,2-benzodioxepin, and in most phamacopaeias in which it is now listed, its pharmacological class is "antimalarial." (It's molecular formula is C16-H26-O5, and it has a molecular weight of 298.38.)
Artemisinin is a sesquiterpene lactone that bears a peroxide group and unlike most other antimalarials, lacks a nitrogen-containing heterocyclic ring system. It is poorly soluble in water and decomposes in other protic solvents, probably by opening of the lactone ring. It is soluble in most aprotic solvents, is unaffected by them up to 150°C and is poorly soluble in oil. It shows a remarkable thermal stability. The peroxide moiety of artemisinin appears to be indispensable for chemotherapeutic activity.
When artemisinin is treated with borohydride to give dihydroartemisinin, a lactol is formed in which the integrity of the peroxide group is retained and the schizonticidal activity is enhanced tenfold. Although it is desirable that a single epimer is used, there seems to be no evidence that the a- and ß-epimers differ greatly in antimalarial activity.
Ingredients: Artesunate 50 mg., Artemether 40 mg., Artemisinin 50 mg., (Pharmaceutical grade). Directions: Take one capsule per daily or as directed by your physician.
Ancient Chinese Folk Remedy May Hold Key to Non-Toxic Cancer Treatment (Newswise)
Chinese Herb Triumphs Over Cancer (altmedangel)
Chinese Remedy May Fight Cancer (BBC News)
Malaria Drug May Hold Key to Nontoxic Treatment (Breast Cancer Fund Report)
Wormwood is the basis for a cancer fighting pill (ENN)
Info on artemisinin
Structural Modification of Active Principles from Chinese Medicine
--- (Natural Products Laboratories, School of Pharmacy, Univ. of North Carolina)