and potential uses of Wormwood
ability to rid the intestines of parasitic worms earned
this plant its common name, "Wormwood," and its
reputation for curing a wide variety of stomach ailments.
Folkloric medicinal uses of this bitter root are
documented in ancient Egyptian writings and the Bible. In
the 1970s, archeologists unearthed ancient Chinese medical
recipes that used Wormwood to treat malaria, a disease
caused by a mosquito-borne blood parasite.
revealed that a compound in Wormwood called "artemisinin"
does in fact help kill off the malaria parasite in the
blood stream, and the treatment regained popularity in
modern Asia and Africa. More recently, researchers at the
University of Washington have looked into artemisinin's
ability to kill cancer cells. In a 2001 article in the
journal Life Sciences, researchers Henry Lai and Naredndra
Singh reported that artemisinin killed 75% of human breast
cancer cells exposed to the compound after just eight
hours. Earlier research suggests artemisinin is even more
effective with Leukemia. Though these results are very
promising, the compound will require more laboratory tests
before even preliminary testing begins in humans.