A sample of unprocessed sweet wormwood. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Because it shares similar properties with ivermectin, another Nobel Prize winner—sweet wormwood—is considered by some experts to be ivermectin’s natural equivalent.
Another Nobel Winner
Sweet wormwood, also known as Artemisia annua, is a green herb native to Southeast Asia that has feathery leaves and yellow flowers.
Sweet wormwood has been used for millennia in traditional Chinese medicine to treat malaria, fevers, viral and bacterial infections, as well as inflammation. The active ingredient in sweet wormwood is artemisinin, first isolated from the plant in 1972.
In recent decades, the World Health Organization has recommended artemisinin as a first-line treatment for malaria.
In 2015, artemisinin was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for its success as a frontline treatment for malaria.
The other half of the award was given to ivermectin for its success in treating roundworm infections. Ivermectin is derived from a bacterium through a manmade process. During the COVID pandemic, it became one of the most controversial drugs. Despite its reported benefits from many doctors, usage has been largely discouraged.
Sweet wormwood is “a plant version that’s already growing that has strong antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory properties,” naturopath Dr. Jana Schmidt told The Epoch Times, who added that it would be her “first choice” as an alternative to ivermectin.
Close-up of Artemisia annua. (Shutterstock)
‘Acts Like a Bomb’ Against COVID Virus
What is unique about artemisinin and its derivatives is that it has a hydrogen peroxide bridge in its chemical structure.
Hydrogen peroxide is highly reactive and studies suggest that it will react with iron in what is known as the Fenton reaction.
Viruses and parasites require iron to proliferate. Some viruses and parasites only infect cells that store iron and sequester iron in infected regions.
A virus’ or parasite’s tendency to increase iron storage during an infection makes artemisinin a good treatment candidate.
Professor Jose Luis Abreu from The State University of Nuevo León, whose expertise is in business and plant science, reasoned that artemisinin “acts like a bomb.” The concentrated iron storage attracts artemisinin activity, causing a greater increase in free radical production, leading to the powerful destruction of infected cells, parasites, and viruses.
Since cancer cells also store iron for proliferation, artemisinin has also been investigated for its anti-cancer properties.
Despite the potency of isolate artemisinin compounds, Abreu explained that consuming the entire plant rather than an isolate form would provide more benefits. Sweet wormwood is also potent in phytochemicals, polyphenols, essential oils, and many other chemicals that assist with artemisinin’s function and can produce a stronger synergistic effect.
Chemical structures of artemisinin and its derivatives. (Shutterstock)
Schmidt said that sweet wormwood has many anti-SARS-CoV-2 properties similar to ivermectin.
In addition to their shared properties, the two are low in toxicity, safe, and relatively cheap for consumption.
Sweet wormwood can be likened to a second ivermectin because of the many properties and effects these two substances have in common. The disease-fighting traits these medicinals share include the following.
- Act as antivirals against ACE-2, CD-147, and TMPRSS2 receptors, preventing viruses from entering the cells through these receptors
- Prevent the virus from infecting cells by binding to its spike proteins, as discovered in a computer simulation study published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
- Prevent viral replication and assembly by binding to Rdrp, Mpro, and Clpro
- Transport zinc into infected cells, preventing viral replication
- Produce free radicals that can kill infected cells and viruses
- Reduce inflammation by lowering levels of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha, according to a study published in Rheumatology (Oxford)
- Inhibit cytokine storms, according to the Rheumatology (Oxford) study
- Prevent the formation of thick scar tissues in the lungs
Despite their similarities, studies show that sweet wormwood and ivermectin do not act in the same location of the COVID virus. They can, however, complement each other.
Ivermectin binds with the strongest affinity to COVID-19 spike protein, preventing the virus from entering human cells, as shown in a study that compared ivermectin with other drugs including remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine.
On the other hand, artemisinin and its derivatives have a low binding score to spike protein, as shown in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics study.
Artemisinin and its derivatives, however, are more capable of binding to SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid proteins, which is a property that has not been associated with ivermectin.
Ivermectin also has other antiviral properties that sweet wormwood does not have, including its ability to maintain mitochondrial health under hypoxic conditions.
The Madagascar Protocol
Abreu published a combination treatment protocol that includes ivermectin, sweet wormwood, and zinc. He named his protocol the Madagascar protocol (pdf), based on his observation that Madagascar, which has a higher consumption of both sweet wormwood and ivermectin, was significantly less affected by the diseases than the rest of the Western world.
Abreu said in an interview with Dr. Jennifer Hibberd that his Madagascar protocol was a combination of drugs and supplements because “there is no magic bullet.”
Including as many drugs that work together without interference and competition in the protocol will give an individual a greater chance of reaping the most benefits.
Abreu pointed out that artemisinin has a property that he “has not seen” in any other plant or chemical, and that is the chemical’s potential ability to increase oxygen levels in the body.
The reaction between the hydrogen peroxide bridge and iron can lead to the production of oxygen, as demonstrated in the right corner of the diagram below.
“When we get COVID, the oxygen goes down, causing hypoxia,” said Abreu, that’s when artemisinin can help.
Hydrogen peroxide reacting with iron. (Courtesy of Prof. Jose Luis Abreu)
How to Take Sweet Wormwood
Artemisinin can be consumed in isolation through supplements, but consuming the sweet wormwood plant or drinking tea steeped with sweet wormwood would provide added benefits.
The essential oils in sweet wormwood are both antibacterial and antifungal. The flavonoids in the plant may also increase the synergistic effects of artemisinin.
Studies from China have recommended that a person steep 4 to 9.5 grams of dried sweet wormwood in boiling water and drink it as tea. Abreu himself consumes the plant by steeping 1 gram of the leaf in hot water and drinking it down. He sometimes drinks up to four servings per day.
Schmidt has seen visible pulmonary improvements in people who have taken sweet wormwood as a treatment for COVID-19. She said that many of her patients also breathe better after taking artemisinin.
However, it’s worth noting that there have been no human studies published on the plant as a COVID-19 therapeutic.
Schmidt warned that despite their similar names, sweet wormwood is not synonymous with a similar plant commonly called wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium. Wormwood has a lower concentration of artemisinin compounds than Artemisia annua. It also carries alpha- and beta-thujones toxins.
Sweet wormwood is not recommended for pregnant women or anyone taking seizure medications or blood thinners, Schmidt said. People who are allergic to the plant may also experience adverse reactions.
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