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Coronavirus: This medicinal plant works against SARS-CoV-2

Coronavirus: This medicinal plant works against SARS-CoV-2


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Mugwort extracts work against the new corona virus

The annual mugwort (Artemisia annua) has long been considered a natural remedy, which is used among other things against malaria. Researchers are now reporting that the plant could also help in the fight against COVID-19.

According to a current report, chemists at the Max Planck Institute for Colloid and Interfacial Research in Potsdam, in close cooperation with virologists from the Free University of Berlin, have shown in laboratory studies that aqueous and ethanolic extracts from specially grown mugwort plants (A. annua) are effective against the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. In the United States, human clinical trials are beginning to test the effectiveness of teas and coffee that contain A. Annua and the anti-malarial drug artesunate.

Herbal extracts for the treatment of infectious diseases

In Asia, Africa and South America, herbal extracts have been used to treat infectious diseases for thousands of years. Extracts from mugwort plants have been used successfully to treat febrile diseases, including malaria.

According to the Max Planck Institute, artemisinin is extracted from mugwort. It is the basis for the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended combination anti-malaria therapies that are used every year in millions of adults and children with little or no side effects.

The use of A. annua teas as a malaria treatment is being promoted as a natural combination therapy for infection, despite the fact that the WHO strongly opposes its use in view of concerns about the development of resistance to antimalarials.

The researchers at the participating institutions wanted to find out whether A. annua extracts - pure artemisinin and related derivatives and mixtures thereof - may also be effective against the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. These drugs would be attractive candidates for reuse because they have an excellent safety profile, are readily available, are quickly scalable, and are relatively inexpensive.

“After working with mugwort plants, I was familiar with the plants' interesting activities against many different diseases, including a number of viruses. We therefore believed that it was worthwhile to investigate the activity of this plant against COVID-19, ”explains Prof. Peter H. Seeberger, who together with Dr. Kerry Gilmore initiated and oversaw.

Adding coffee increased activity

Results show that A. annua leaves from a cultured seed line grown in Kentucky, USA provided the best antiviral activity when extracted with absolute ethanol or distilled water. According to the scientists, adding either ethanolic or aqueous A. annua extracts before adding the virus resulted in a significantly reduced plaque formation. The ethanolic extract of A. annua and coffee was the most active.

Artemisinin alone shows little antiviral activity. "I was surprised that A. annua extracts worked noticeably better than pure artemisinine derivatives and that the addition of coffee further increased activity," said Klaus Osterrieder, professor of virology at the Free University of Berlin, who carried out all activity tests.

At the University of Kentucky (USA) academic medical center, human clinical trials begin with teas and coffee containing A. annua leaves to test the activity of mugwort extracts. In addition, Artesunate, an artemisinin derivative used to treat malaria, is also being used in a phase 1/2 clinical trial, the release said. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Swell:

  • Free University of Berlin: Mugwort extracts are active against SARS-CoV-2, (accessed: June 28, 2020), Free University of Berlin



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