Ever heard of wormwood or mugwort? Although they may sound like characters from a Harry Potter novel, they’re really common names of the Artemisia annua plant that some researchers now know is an effective, natural cancer treatment.
If you’re like me and enjoy gardening you probably grow some Artemisia in your beds. It doesn’t produce a flower but it has beautiful silver foliage. There are many different varieties and I haven’t researched whether the ones people grow at home have any medicinal uses, so don’t go experimenting on yourself. This article is only about one specific species, Artemisia annua.
A fourth century handbook of Chinese medicine uncovered in 1970 showed Chinese herbalists commonly used the plant to treat fever. By 1971, scientists also demonstrated that Artemisia plant extracts were a powerful anti-malarial remedy. The studies I’m going to describe actually used extracts, not the whole leaf or root.
The research involving these extracts and cancer treatment is even more exciting than the older evidence about hay fever and malaria. Artemisia may be a good way to put cancer cells on a suicide watch!
According to a 2001 study1 published in the journal Life Sciences, two bioengineering researchers in Seattle successfully used wormwood extracts to target and kill breast cancer cells.
In a University of Washington statement2, research professors Henry Lai and Narendra Singh said the plant compound artemisinin is “highly toxic to the cancer cells, but has a marginal impact on normal breast cells.”
In a nutshell, wormwood is a highly skilled cancer assassin. But how does it work?
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Artemisinin is programmed to attack cell abnormalities…
Scientists have shown that artemisinin reacts to high iron concentrations found in the malaria parasite.
Artemisinin has a chemical reaction with iron in cells. This produces a type of free radical that attacks cell membranes of the parasite.
After breaking down a malaria parasite’s cell walls, the artemisinin compound invades the cells and kills the microbe.
Because cancer cells also have high iron concentrations, Professor Lai had a hunch that this same tactic might work on cancer cells too.
“Cancer cells need a lot of iron to replicate DNA when they divide,” Lai explained. “When we began to understand how artemisinin worked, I started wondering if we could use that knowledge to target cancer cells.”
Professors Lai and Singh knew that cancer cell surfaces—including breast cancer cells—have a greater amount of transferrin receptors than do healthy cells. These are the pathways that allow iron into a cell.
The researchers’ goal was to pump cancer cells full of iron—then send in the infantry. They exposed normal and cancerous cells to three different compounds:
1) Holotransferrin—to help transferrin receptors send iron into cells
2) Dihydroartemisinin—a water-soluble form of artemisinin
3) A combination of both compounds
There was no major difference in cells exposed to just one compound. But they noticed a dramatic effect when cancer cells received the double whammy of holotransferrin, then dihydroartemisinin…
In about eight hours, 75% of the cancer cells were gone, baby, gone. And after 16 hours nearly ALL of the cells were dead!
And get this…
Lai and Singh noticed that the vast majority of normal breast cells did NOT die! This proves the treatment selectively targets abnormal cells—and does so safely.
This was no fluke result. Other research proves artemisinin is a lethal weapon against other forms of cancer…
Wormwood pulverizes bone marrow and throat cancers
If you’re impressed with the speedy results of artemisinin against breast cancer cells—you’ll be wowed at what it did to leukemia cells.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow. Scientists have found that leukemia cells have 1,000 times the iron concentration of normal cells. That makes them a perfect set-up for artemisinin.
In a study reported in the Cancer Letters journal3, Dr Lai found that ALL leukemia cells exposed to the holotransferrin and dihydroartemisinin combination were destroyed within 8 hours.
That’s just half the time it took to kill nearly all the breast cancer cells!
What’s more, a case published in the Archive of Oncology4 reported on a 72-year-old man with cancer of the larynx who was successfully treated with the Artemisia extract called artesunate.
The man experienced hoarseness… difficulty swallowing food… and pain in his throat and ear because of a growth on the right side of his larynx.
Researchers gave the patient artesunate injections and tablets over a period of nine months. The results?
The tumor in the man’s throat was reduced by about 70% after just TWO MONTHS of treatment.
Plus, the patient regained his voice, appetite, and weight—with no adverse side effects reported!
These studies prove wormwood is an ancient Asian remedy that shows promise as an effective cancer therapy.
According to Lai, the goal is to develop an inexpensive oral treatment that can be taken on an outpatient basis.
But you can bet that such a natural, inexpensive treatment—about $2.00 per dose compared to hundreds of dollars for chemotherapy drugs—won’t curry the favor of a single soul in “Big Pharma”!