A review of existing studies of anti-malarial compound artemisinin recently concluded that adding the Chinese folk remedy for malaria to existing anti-malarial drugs increased the effectiveness of those drugs in fighting malaria.
The International Artemisinin Study Group looked at 16 clinical trials involving 6,000 patients who were administered artemisinin along with other anti-malarial drugs. Artemisinin is an extract from sweet wormwood has been used for centuries in Asia to treat malaria.
Their review found that adding artemisinin to existing compounds doubled the rate of parasite clearance (the level of parasites removed from the blood) with no additional side effects. Additionally, patients taking artemisinin combination therapies were less likely to suffer a relapse of the disease after ending treatment.
In an article in Lancet describing the results of the survey, the International Artemisinin Study Group wrote,
If used widely, this inexpensive, fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination antimalarial could make important contributions to ‘rolling back malaria’.
Drug cocktail ‘may beat malaria’. The BBC, January 2, 2004.
Drug combinations for malaria: time to ACT?. The Lancet, January 3, 2004.
Combination therapy, the best way to tackle malaria: Lancet. January 2, 2004.
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