Herbal Treatment That Really Works For Malaria

Hard to believe, it took so long for conventional medicine to accept the herbal drug artemisia was such an effective treatment for malaria. Chinese herbalists have used leaves from the sweet wormwood shrub for more than 1,500 years to treat malaria, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that scientists finally accepted artemisia as a bona fide treatment.

Unfortunately, artemisia, considered the best treatment for malaria (a disease that kills a patient every 30 seconds, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa), is in short supply. Even worse, some criminals are make millions selling fake artemesia, that's no more than chalk, in Asia.

Producing smaller dosages doesn't work either: A drug containing only half of the active ingredient, one expert says, won't kill the parasite and, in fact, create a resistance to it. In fact, two well-known drugs -- chloroquine and pyrimethamine -- are already useless.

The trick is getting more farmers in China and Vietnam to produce artemisia than to rely on artemisinin-based therapies made by Novartis and Guilin Pharmaceuticals. Other natural options that could save millions from malaria's deadly grip without drugs:

Reuters December 11, 2006

Scientific American December 11, 2006