Artemisinin: Der geheimnisvolle Wirkstoff von Artemisia Annua

Artemisinin - The story behind the medicinal plant Artemisia Annua

Artemisinin - The story behind the medicinal plant Artemisia Annua

Artemisia Annua stretches its pinnate leaves in delicate silver-green. From August, the delicate panicles begin to bloom in bright yellow. A delicate fragrance emanates from the plant. On dry soils, the annual herb feels at home in the sun. It spreads itself via its round, brown seeds. Its use in natural medicine and cooking has a long history. The herb was named after Artemis, the goddess of hunting, the forest, and the moon.

Artemisia Annua - annual herb with aromatic fragrance


The mugwort - who does not know it? The spice is popular not only at Christmas time. But in addition to the culinary herb, there are many other species. Artemisia Annua, the annual mugwort, is one of the four hundred species of the genus. The wild plant belongs to the composite plants. The herb is an annual and reseeds itself repeatedly.

On its herbaceous, glabrous stems sit feathery, silvery to light green leaves up to five centimeters long. In August, small, panicle-like, light yellow flowers open. A little later, the brown-colored, spherical seeds appear. The herb itself can reach a height of up to two meters.

Mugwort is known for its aromatic scent, reminiscent of a mixture of chamomile and camphor. Its essential oils spread in the warmth and complement the scent of meadows or forests in the summertime.

From Eurasia to the Elbe

Mugwort grows all over the world. Most species are undemanding. Barren soil is enough for them. They appreciate sun or like it in partial shade. The annual Artemisia is originally from Eurasia. It is at home in the north of India and in China. It is found in southeastern Europe, in the Balkans. From there it has conquered Central Europe.

In Germany, the annual Artemisia grows mainly along the Elbe River together with red goosefoot and rocket. The plant can also be grown well in the garden. It is considered easy to care for and robust. Similar to its relatives, wormwood and common mugwort, it spreads by self-seeding.

In all countries, the herb is appreciated. It is used for seasoning and, as in Germany, as a medicinal herb in natural and folk medicine.

Mugwort in Hildegard of Bingen

In the monastery gardens, many medicinal plants were cultivated. Mugwort species was also among them. The wormwood was valued for its bitter substances. Weakly dosed, it is said to stimulate the appetite and support digestion. Traditionally, mugwort is used in the preparation of St. Martin's goose and fatty meat. It makes it more digestible.

This also recommended Hildegard von Bingen. She saw in the Beifuß an anti-inflammatory, the stomach favorable means and recommended also a juice won from it. In doing so, she partially anticipated the results of later research. The interaction of more than 600 active ingredients makes the annual mugwort so valuable. These include, among others:

  • Amino acids as a source of protein and support in collagen formation
  • .
  • Essential oils with relaxing and antibacterial effects
  • .
  • Calcium to help maintain bones and teeth
  • .
  • Cumarin as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels
  • .
  • Iron for hemoglobin and oxygen balance
  • .
  • Flavonoids to strengthen the immune system
  • .
  • Menthol with analgesic and cooling effect
  • .
  • Thymol as an antiseptic substance
  • .
  • Vitamin E as an active cell protection
  • .

However, with the mugwort is also mindfulness required. Too much will harm and it can lead to intolerances. The advantage of today's dietary supplements is their exact measure. Thus, the dosage can be exactly determined individually, as with the offers of Euro Nutrador.


Annual mugwort in TCM


In traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort has had a firm place for over a thousand years. Qing-guo is recommended there for diseases accompanied by fever, inflammation and infection. It is said to restore inner balance, balance yin deficiency and combat heat. Inflammation and eczema accompanied by weeping processes, it takes away the wetness and promotes dryness.

As far back as Shen Nong, the divine farmer, the discovery of the herb and its healing properties is said to date back. He wrote with "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing" one of the basic works of Chinese herbalism. In addition to fever and ulcers, mugwort was used as a dewormer (similar to Europe). Its aromatic scent was used to drive away unpleasant odors and insects.

Based on these experiences, Qing-Guo was further researched in Asia and used in the fight against various diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and even cancer. In this context, it is said to be complementary to classical medical treatments.

Active ingredient with Nobel Prize

A crucial active ingredient in the plant is artemisinin. Following her studies, Chinese pharmacologist Youyou Tu worked on plant substances that act against malaria. In 1971, she succeeded in isolating the active ingredient artemisinin from annual Artemisia. This substance became the basis of an effective therapy against malaria.

In 2015, the scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine together with the Japanese biochemist Satoshi Ōmura and the American parasitologist William C. Campbell.

This gave increasing importance to research into plant-based therapies. In addition to malaria, infections and cancer, leading institutes such as the Max Planck Society also conducted research on the use of mugwort against corona in the wake of the pandemic.

Already in 2005, alcoholic extracts had been used to combat the SARS-CoV virus. In contrast to pure mugwort, which can have a toxic effect if the dosage is too high, Artemisia extracts show only very low toxicity with a high degree of effectiveness. Research projects using artesunate (an artemisinin derivative) to fight cancer have also shown promise.

From the monastery garden to Madagascar and back

Mugwort is experiencing a renaissance. From a spice, it has long since reemerged as a herbal remedy that is being studied, researched and used in many medical fields. In the process, empirical data from past times are becoming starting points for further analysis and exploration at international institutes and renowned universities.

The largest cultivation areas of the annual herb are in China, Madagascar and other African countries such as Kenya. A total of 75 countries currently grow annual Artemisia as a medicinal plant. In Africa, derivatives are used mainly for efficient malaria control. Experiments are being conducted with mixed crops to obtain sustainably healthy plants with high active ingredient intensity.

Cultivation in combination with other plants also had a tradition in Europe. This was a natural way to keep pests away in monastery gardens. Today, this type of planting accommodates soil conservation and avoids the use of fertilizers or pesticides while maintaining high yields. The leaves, which are rich in active ingredients, are again selectively processed into tinctures and powders.

Artemisinin from Euro Nutrador - Nature compact


The substance extracted from mugwort can be used as a dietary supplement according to individual requirements. The advantage lies in the dosage indication, while in the application of the leaves of the herb too much or too little is possible.


Taking the capsules can be easily integrated into the daily routine and complements a healthy lifestyle. The extract in compact form can complement a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Under certain conditions, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding or allergies, a consultation with the family doctor is advisable.


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