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Jansen (2006) writes that “the herbal tea approach to artemisinin as a therapy for malaria is totally misleading and should be forgotten as soon as possible.”
We believe that this statement is totally misleading and should be forgotten as soon as possible, for the following reasons.
It is clear that further concerted research is needed to optimise the dose and preparation of A. annua (including combinations with other antimalarial plants), to tackle the problem of recrudescence, and to conduct trials in non-immune populations. If these show sufficient effectiveness, a sustainable treatment for malaria could be made available to those in remote areas who cannot rapidly access modern health care. If the herbal approach is “forgotten”, those remote populations will also remain forgotten. In any case, they cannot access the products of the pharmaceutical industry, so it need not feel threatened by this approach. There is one point where A. annua herbal preparations will never reach the efficiency of pure artemisinin: …business, of course!
RITAM Artemisia annua Task Force (www.gifts-ritam.org)