Pierre Lutgen and Bernard Michels are members of the NGO “Iwerliewen fir bedreete Volleker”. Their associa-tion actively promotes the use of artemisia annua tea against malaria, in cooperation with other partners “Colabor”, “OPE” , “Kraidergaart Wanseler” and the medical doctors from Alassem and the Red Cross. The Arcelor Mittal Foundation is also interested in these projects.
There is a remedy against malaria, a simple plant, wormwood, in its Chinese variety, artemisia annua. In China it is known for more than 2000 years against malaria and fever. The active substance artemisinin was isolated some 30 years ago and is the main component of the ACT (artemisia combined therapy) drug against malaria.
Scientific research has been able to document that the use of artemisia annua in the form of tea acts 10 times faster than conventional remedies against malaria. Taken continuously during 3, or preferably 5 days, the infu-sion cures almost 100% of the disabled. So far, no toxic effect for humans or resistance build-up in mosquitoes could be detected.
The important issue is that the artemisia annua plant becomes available to all. It grows in any garden, anywhere in the world. In Africa, the continent where people suffer the most from malaria, it could be almost free of char-ge as everybody is able to prepare a decent cup of tea. So far, the ONG has run or is starting projects in Peru, Colombia, Cameroon, Katanga, Guinea, Benin, Kenya and Togo.
Further scientific research is required to better understand the curative mechanism of this herb, as well as assessing how other tropical diseases might respond to it.
As Dr Pierre Lutgen pointed out, experiments were run three weeks ago with a Pallcheck Luminometer (ATP Phosphatase). Other experiments in the Metz LCDI laboratory had already shown that the tea exhibited an unambiguous measurable killer effect using the bioluminescence of vibrio fischeri. The scientists were astoni-shed when the Pallchek device revealed a high bacteriologic disinfection by adding one cup of Artemisia tea to a liter of highly contaminated water, equal or even higher than by boiling this water. Several rechecks brought confirmation. It seems that the endoperoxid bond, part of the artemisinine molecule, acts aggressively with a Fenton reaction against bacteria, similar as it does against the plasmodium of malaria. Literature suggests that the peroxide is broken into free OH radicals by oxidation of the cell's iron and consequent cell destruction. Adding a ferrous salt to Artemisia quenches its fluorescence, a tea property we describe later on.
Experiments were repeated last week, this time with a similar luminometer from Aquatools. A bacterial reduc-tion of 50% and more proved efficiency consistency obtained by the action of artemisia tea on contaminated water. It was known that Artemisia tea was curative and anti-inflammatory, the antiseptic effect wasn't reported so far.
During those trials a few weeks ago it was discovered by chance that Artemisia annua tea fluoresces under black UV light (e.g. as quinine). So far, this property has nowhere been reported. Ten other randomly selected teas didn't show the fluorescence property, amongst those even the artemesia vulgaris our “wormwood” which our grandmothers used for tea. ACT antimalarial pills from three different origins, including Cameroon, didn't fluor-esce either. Be it that those are part of the numerous fakes sold on the black market in Vietnam, Malaysia or Africa, or due to the reduced shelf life of the artemisinine derivate in pills stored under tropical conditions, as various French institutes diagnosed.
In any case, the problem of the adequate artemisinine concentration in the herb or the tea prepared thereof persists and can only be assessed by sophisticated and expensive analytical methods such as HPLC.
The development of an analytical measuring method using the fluorescence property of the tea would allow the detection of the active ingredient in the herb, the tea or ACT pills and eventually provide a tool to assess its concentration. Such a simplified method would not require university labs but could be applied in an African village during night or in a darkroom just by using a cheap blacklight bulb. How many lives could be saved by only identifying anti-malarial pill fakes?
The trials revealed as well that the active substance artemisinine could be extracted even with cold water, which indicates water solubility in presence of the other tea ingredients. Pure artemisinine was considered so far as non water soluble and could only be made available in pills after extraction from the plant by chemical solvents.
The scientists of „Iwerliewen fir bedreete Volleker“ are well aware that additional research work is required to confirm and extend above findings, prior to using their applications.
So far, this research work has not been granted any governmental subsidies but was exclusively financed priva-tely, mainly by donations from Rotary Luxembourg Vallées.
For several months now, Iwerliewen works closely with the University of Louvain, as well as with specialists for tropical diseases from the University Campinas in Brazil, the University Antioquia in Colombia as well as the University from Lumbumbashi. The results of the cooperation will be extensively exposed at the Luxembourg Congress „Maladies tropicales, aspects humanitaires et économiques“ on 3rd and 4th June. About twenty experts from various continents will expose their know-how and express their scientific criticism. Often science is nothing more than asking the right questions.
Should all this be confirmed, it would be groundbreaking. Each day 20000 children die of Malaria, Cholera, Diarrhea, Leishmaniosia, Denge, Chagas…The Artemisia herb would be a free medicine for them and the end of unspeakable sufferings. Further information:www.maladiestropicales.org