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After the failure of pharmaceutical monotherapies the world
rediscovers medicinal plants or the miraculous Artemisia family
.

In the absence of efficient primary health care systems, traditional medicine occupies a central place in the provision of health care, especially among rural communities of developing countries. According to WHO 80% of the world population are relying on herbal medicine. This is attributable to accessibility, reliability and affordability. The number of scientific papers related to plants is exploding.

Several species of the genus, Artemisia are used to cure specific ailments. A. absinthium has been used as remedy against fever and inflammation. A. abrotanum as anthelmintic and emmenagogue. A. herba alba as antispasmodic and analgesic. In South Africa, A.afra is widely used against malaria and numerous other ailments.

A.annua has become famous over recent years. Its reputation due to the extraction of one molecule which has given excellent results in vitro: artemisisin: But the mechanism of its action in vivo has not yet been elucidated and in Asia, Africa, and Latin America resistance becomes widespread.

IFBV-BELHERB from Luxembourg has run with partners clinical trials which demonstrate that infusions or capsules containing powdered leaves are more efficient than ACTs. The prophylactic properties have been extensively demonstrated in Uganda. The plant also is efficient against diarrhea, typhus, cholera, leishmaniasis and Trypano-soma cruci. In all these results artemisinin only plays a minor role.

The artemisia genus is very rich in essential oils, polysaccharides, saponins, coumarins, acids, minerals, flavo-noids, phytosterols and polyphenols. IFBV is coordinating the research efforts of a worldwide net of universities trying to understand the synergy between these molecules.

Pierre Lutgen
Luxembourg


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