After months of analysis, the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam in Germany announced that dried Artemisia annua extract has been shown to be effective against Coronavirus. Further clinical trials will soon be launched in the United States and Mexico on patients with Covid19.

“We extracted pure substances from the Artemisia plant and combined them with the virus”,

Explained Peter Seeberger of the Max Planck Institute, who is co-head of the study along with chemist Kerry Gilmore.

The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.

“Since I work with combinations of Artemisia annua plants, I am very familiar with the interesting activities of plants that can work against a variety of diseases, including a whole host of viruses,” said Seeberger.

He said that is why it made sense for him and his colleagues to look into the possible effects on the Sars-CoV-2 virus .

The tests were carried out with plants produced in the United States in the former Kentucky tobacco fields. It is in the same state that the first clinical trials will be launched within a few days.

Peter Seeberger Artemisia
Peter Seeberger, director of the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam

Surprising results

Researchers found that Artemisia annua leaf extract showed significant antiviral activity against Coronavirus after being extracted with pure ethanol, or distilled water. Antiviral activity increased significantly when ethanol extract was combined with coffee .

“I was surprised that Artemisia annua extracts worked much better as derivatives and that adding coffee increased antiviral activity,” said Klaus Osterrieder, professor of virology at the Free University.

In April, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina promoted a herbal blend made from Artemisia annua called Covid-Organics (we already talked about it in this article ). However, no clinical studies have been performed on the remedy.

The World Health Organization “urges extreme caution on reports advertising the effectiveness of such products.” The WHO also warns that ” there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be prevented, or treated with products based on plant material based on Artemisia “.

“In recent weeks we have been asked over and over again to say something about Covid-Organics made in Madagascar. We tried to get hold of some samples, ”Seeberger said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get them. I think it’s a real shame. If it really works, it would be nice to be able to test it. As far as we know, no studies have been conducted so far. 

New studies on Artemisia soon

The University of Kentucky will begin new clinical trials on the effects of  Artemisia annua  combined with coffee and tea. The effectiveness of artesunate, another derivative of the plant used to treat malaria, will also be tested.

Scientists in Mexico are also interested in conducting clinical trials.

Only with laboratory tests and clear results will it be possible to determine whether  Artemisia annua  can be used effectively to treat COVID-19.