Scientists from the Max Planck Institute recently confirmed that extracts from the Artemisia Annua plant are effective against SARS-CoV-2 and coronavirus. In close collaboration with virologists from the University of Berlin, researchers and chemists have shown in laboratory studies that aqueous and ethanolic extracts of the specially grown annual mugwort are active in SARS-CoV-2. It is about the phytochemical extract artemisinin from the plant of Artemisia annua, which has proven to be effective.
Effect of Artemisia Annua
Detailed human clinical trials to test the effectiveness of teas and coffee containing Artemisia annua and the anti-malarial drug artesunate are also about to be tested for such medical purposes. For thousands of years, naturopaths have used herbal folk medicine in Asia, Africa, and South America to treat infectious diseases. In addition, annual mugwort may indeed be successful in treating febrile illnesses, including coronavirus, a potential therapy.
The researchers extract phytochemical artemisinin against Sars-CoV-2 from this plant as the basis for the anti-malaria combination therapies recommended by the World Health Organization. Medicine applies these to millions of adults and children each year with little or no side effects. The use of Artemisia Annua as a malaria treatment is promoted as a natural combination therapy for infections. Nevertheless, in view of concerns about the development of resistance to such drugs, the WHO has expressly advised against their use.
The German researchers wanted to find out whether Artemisia Annua extracts and pure artemisinin with related derivatives and mixtures thereof might be effective against the COVID-19 virus. These drugs would be attractive candidates for reuse because of their excellent safety profile, readily available, rapidly scalable, and relatively inexpensive.
Prof. Dr. Peter H. Seeberger, who conducted the study together with Dr. Initiated and overseen by Kerry Gilmore, said the team, after working with annual mugwort compounds, became familiar with the plants’ interesting activities against many different diseases, including a number of viruses. Because of this, the researchers thought it was worth studying the activity of this plant against COVID-19.
The leaves from a cultivated seed line grown in Kentucky, USA, provided the best antiviral activity when extracted with absolute ethanol or distilled water. The addition of ethanolic or aqueous extracts prior to the virus addition thus led to a significantly reduced formation of plaque. In addition, the ethanol extract of Artemisia Annua and coffee turned out to be very active. However, artemisinin alone did not show much antiviral activity.
Medical Perspectives for Artemisia Annua
Klaus Osterrieder, Professor of Virology at the University of Berlin, was surprised that the plant extracts worked significantly better than pure derivatives from artemisin. The addition of coffee further increased the activity. To test the Artemisia Annua effect on COVID-19, the team has started clinical studies on humans with tea. Artesunate, an artemisinin derivative for the treatment of malaria, is also being used in a clinical test phase. The scientists are excited to continue their collaboration to study the plant as a potential treatment for patients with COVID infections. You can read more about the research paper here read.