Artemisia annua: The Covid-19 saviour the world never had
The peak of the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed a proliferation of solutions, from the logical but scientifically inconclusive such as a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to the most ridiculous such as drinking hypochlorite chemicals. During this period, Madagascar, a small island on the shores of Africa, announced a major breakthrough in getting prophylactic treatment for the notorious virus that has claimed millions of lives. According to their president, Madagascan Covid19 organic has been proven beyond doubts, to have the potency to prevent the virus from entering the body system and also treat anyone that already has the virus in their systems.
Although different scientific bodies later disproved the claims of the efficacy of the herbal concoction in preventing or treating the symptoms elicited by the virus, many countries, including my dear Nigeria, actually bought into it. Interestingly, the base content of the COVID-19 organic is an extract of a plant commonly known as the sweet wormwood, scientifically known as Artemisia annua.
Many people in malaria-endemic zones of the world might not know much about the plant known as sweet wormwood, but most would have heard of malaria drugs being composed of artemether. The compound is a derivative of one of the active metabolites from A. annua, the primary metabolite being artemisinin. The discovery that an extract of the plant has the potential to treat malaria was made in 1971 and the metabolite responsible for this ability, artemisinin, was isolated the following year. Today, even though malaria parasites seem to have evolved and become resistant to artemisinin, the metabolite still forms an integral part of many malaria drugs, often in combination with other content.
A. annua belongs to a family of flowering plants known as Asteraceae, the most evolutionarily advanced group of plants. It is one of the species in a genus that has between two to four hundred species. It grows as an annual herb, usually with brown and erect stem. It is known to be native to certain parts of Asia, although it has now become domesticated to different parts of the world due to its high ethnomedicinal values.
Due to its popularity in the treatment of malaria, a disease that has taken millions of life, several scientific inquiries have been made into the extracts of the plant with some interesting discoveries. Apart from malaria, extracts of the plant were discovered to be effective as an antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer. Discoveries also showed that the ecology of the habitat where A. annua grows significantly affects its medicinal effects. More specifically, the location of the plant was found to have a kind of correlation with the kind and efficacy of the bioactive compounds found in its tissues.
Locally, a dry leaf of sweet wormwood is used to prepare a variety of herbal remedies against headache, fever, and many other diseases. Tissues of the plant have also been reported to be used in the production of different cosmetics and perfumes.
The Madagascan COVID-19 organic might have been tagged a ruse by the scientific community, but as they say, there is no smoke without fire. The COVID-19 infection has several symptoms similar to the symptoms elicited by malaria parasites in the human blood. If the extracts of A. annua has been found, beyond reasonable doubts, to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of malaria, it cannot be a mere coincidence that it was announced as the saviour of humanity against COVID-19. Granted that the herbal remedy might not be effective in alleviating all the symptoms of the virus, I am of the opinion that it goes a long way. Despite the caveat by scientific bodies, the organic remains relevant in the country up till today. They have even gone as far as making a capsule out of it.
What do you think?