I've been thinking of writing an article on Artemisia annua for quite some time now, as its Latin name indicates, it is an annual. On the other hand, the majority of the other wormwoods such as wormwood, tarragon, common wormwood, Afra, Aurone, genepis... are perennial. The Artemisia family refers to Artemis. Artemisia are generally aromatic plants.

A short history

In Greek, artemisia means integrity and by extension good health. The plant is dedicated to Artemis, also called Diana, the goddess of hunting, nature, wild animals and femininity. She is also the protector of young children. Artemis is a virgin and is escorted by nymphs. She is always accompanied by hunting dogs or a doe.

Dressed in a tunic and sandals, she has a quiver. She is ready to use her arrows. She loves nature, wild life and the mountains and seeks to protect them. As much as Apollo is the sun god, Artemis is the goddess associated with the moon. The probable link between Artemisia and Artemis is that the majority of the effects of using Artemisia are related to women. We will discuss these female links in other articles. It is therefore not surprising that Culpeper places it under the sign of Venus (1).

The genus Artemisia

Le genre Artémisia se décline dans, environ, 500 espèces réparties surtout dans l’hémisphère Nord. Elle fait partie de la famille nombreuse des Astéracées. Les fleurs sont regroupées ou ce que l’on appelle en jargon de botaniste, des fleurs composées. Chaque fleur est constituée de centaines de petites fleurs. C’est le cas de la marguerite, du pissenlit, du bleuet et même de la laitue. Dans le genre Artemisia les fleurs sont très petites avec un diamètre de moins de 7 mm. La graine des armoises est extrêmement petite. Parmi les 500 espèces, certaines sont protégées parce qu’elles sont endémiques d’une région.

The Artemisia annua

Now that we know a little more about Artemisia, we can start to describe the annual. It is called annual but also Chinese Artemisia. This name shows that this plant has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is 3 to 3.5 m tall, the leaves are alternate, yellowish-green, petiolate with very fine, linear or lanceolate lobes. The flowers are very small. The fruits are achenes on a hairless receptacle. The plant is fragrant and gives off a fresh smell.

Characteristics of Artemisia annua

Primary biotope. Exotic plant from China that has adapted to the large alluvial plains.

Secondary biotope. This plant can be found along roadsides or paths, as well as in industrial areas or wastelands. They can also be found in vineyards, orchards and in areas where there are no trees. cultivés.

Its indicator characters. Soil with very low retention capacity. Humus deficiency, organic matter deficiency.

Active principles

It is very complicated to discover the active ingredients of Artemisia annua (Aa), as if this plant could not be discovered. Not one medical treatise is likely to mention this species. We have enough descriptions for tarragon, wormwood, vulgaris, white but annua, almost nothing. Of all the books in my possession, not a single one dares to mention this plant, with the exception of Bernard Bertrand's. (3) That's when I tell myself that it's time I met this researcher.

The only thing we know is that annua has the highest rate of artemisinin, at 63%. You have to go to the Internet to find out more about these active ingredients: sesquiterpene lactones, sesquiterpene alcohols and sesquiterpene acids. Also rich in polyines, flavonoids, coumarins, sterols and triterpenes, it is known to strengthen the immune system. Indeed, it has an effect on headaches, sunstroke and fever, and its active ingredients effectively stimulate the human body.

Use of Artemisia annua

Medicinal plant

Artemisia annua has a basic active ingredient which is Artemisinin. Here is what Wikipedia says about it, which I invite you to read further if you are interested: "Artemisinin is the active medicinal substance isolated from the plant Artemisia annua and whose medicinal virtue has been known in China for more than 3000 years. It is a sesquiterpene lactone with a peroxide group that appears to be the key to its therapeutic efficacy. The oldest text describing the 50 benefits of this plant dates from 168 BC and comes from China. This plant, Qinghao, used as an herbal tea, helped North Vietnamese soldiers to resist malaria. In 1979, the Chinese pharmaceutical researcher Tu Youyou succeeded in isolating the Artemisin molecule, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015.

Without side effects

Currently, the annual is recognised as bitter tonic, febrifuge et antiparasitic. It is undeniable that this plant has a very bitter taste which has the faculty to look after certain disorders due to heat in particular the fevers, the headaches, the glare and the feeling of pulmonary suffocation. It also stops nosebleeds in case of strong heat. Its side  bitter tonic can facilitate digestion by taking a tea before or after heavy meals.

Conventional medicine does not recognize the virtues of artemisia for malaria. It follows the claims of the WHO by advising against the use of a simple herbal tea (3). Well hey! While the scientific literature (4) is increasingly important showing the positive effects of this plant throughout the world. It has been found, for Africans, that drinking a cup of artemisia a day reduces the risk of malaria by 95%, without side effects! Moreover, Africans have been so little affected by Covid that it is likely that there is a causal link.

What about other diseases?

In 2020, the Malagasy government made a name for itself by deciding to use Artemisia annua to treat people with Covid. This led to sanctions by the WHO. About ten countries, including Senegal and Germany, have worked on this issue and have obtained very good results in terms of healing patients. Moreover, the Max-Planck Institute in Potsdam, Germany, has declared that Artemisia Annua has an antiviral effect against the coronavirus. The WHO has once again objected to its use. It is clear, however, that Artemisia strengthens the immunity of people who might catch Covid.

Artemisia annua is being studied, among other things, for Lyme disease, schistosomiasis and thus Bilharzia, sleeping sickness, HIV and certain cancers including breast cancer. The research is carried out in laboratories, particularly in Africa, which are beginning to have a say in the scientific world. This is a good thing

In kitchen

The two Artemisia we have discussed here cannot be cooked because of their bitter taste. We could talk about wormwood (9), aurone, genepi, tarragon in cooking. But they are not the subject of this article.

Other uses

The annual mugwort is found on industrial wastelands for a reason. It is one of the best plants for cleaning the soil of chemical and other pollutants. It has the same cleaning power as lettuce and carrots. It is clear that these three plants should not be eaten or put in the compost, but should be taken to a specialist company. This service is free. This is another important use for Artemisia. Cleaning plants take about 15 years to clean up the soil.

In conclusion

This plant has significant benefits for human health.