Artemisinin From Sweet Wormwood Inhibits SARS-CoV-2

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • An antimalarial treatment made from the plant Artemisia annua (Sweet Wormwood) shows promise as a COVID-19 treatment
  • The drug artesunate — which contains two compounds found in Artemisia annua: artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin — is a first-line treatment for malaria
  • In a recent in vitro study, both pretreatment and treatment with artemisinin extracts, synthetic artemisinin and the drug artesunate were able to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, artesunate was the most potent in terms of treatment, and from a clinical perspective may be the only one worth pursuing
  • Artesunate’s mechanism of action against SARS-CoV-2 is as yet unknown, but artemisinin does have confirmed antiviral activity
  • The World Health Organization has come out in opposition to artemisinin-based products, warning their use can bolster drug-resistant strains of malaria parasites. For this reason, people living in malaria-prone areas should be cautious about using this plant remedy

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