Artesunate Holistic Treatment In Cancer

Holistic cancer treatment with Artesunate 

What you need to know in this 3 part series:

  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins have been studied in preclinical, clinical, phase I/II/III clinical trials including randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials
  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins are effective against a wide-variety of cancer types
  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins have been shown to have a wide variety of anti-cancer effects
  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins calm cytokine storm
  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins are a great example of a holistic cancer treatment
  • artemisinin, artesunate, and other artemisinins use in cancer is evidence-based

I will discuss these points on artesunate by asking the following 3 questions:

  • What is holistic cancer treatment?
  • Is holistic cancer treatment effective?
  • What is holistic cancer treatment at An Oasis of Healing?

I encourage you to check out previous posts on the inflammatory burst of cytokine storm, the connection of cytokine storm to the current COVID19 pandemic, the connection of cytokine storm to cancer and how chemotherapy can induce metastatic spread via the same cytokine storm. Enough pointing out the problems, now for some evidence-based holistic treatment solutions from an Integrative cancer perspective. First a quote from Moliere:

Physicians are people (clarification added) “who poured medicines of which they know little into bodies of which they know less”



I give you the holistic cancer treatment artesunate.

Some of you may be thinking, what???? Never heard of it?  Artesunate has become one of my favorite holistic therapies in the treatment of cancer at An Oasis of Healing. Not quite to the level of vitamin C, but getting close. In fact, artesunate and vitamin C have tremendous synergy against cancer. More on that later. Also, it turns out that artesunate is effective in calming the  cytokine storm which is how chemotherapy can cause metastasis.

Artesunate had its birth on the global stage in 2015 with the award of the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine to Dr.Youyou Tu for the treatment of malaria with sweet wormwood [1]; well, not sweet wormwood, but artemisinin which is a component of sweet wormwood. Sweet wormwood is the parent plant originally from China. Artemisinin is the main active ingredient and artesunate is the derivative for intravenous delivery [2]. Dr. Tu’s lab was the first to extract artemisinin from the sweet wormwood plant in 1972 in her research of  > 2,000 year old Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies in search for new treatments against malaria 1.

How about a little Botany journey with the plant—sweet wormwood? The shrub sweet wormwood is an annual that is native to parts of Europe, parts of Africa and Asia, such as the countries of, China, Vietnam, Madagascar and Pakistan. Many artemisinin and artesunate supportive industries are major economic contributors in these countries of original origin. Approximately 70% of the worlds artemisinin currently originates out of China, India, and Vietnam. Due to its wide distribution and cultivation, sweet wormwood now grows wild throughout the world, even including parts of the U.S.

Traditional medicine is the term often use to describe the current allopathic medicine model. However, this current model only dates back to approximately 100 years. In contrast, TCM and Ayurvedic medicine date back > 2,000 years [3] to > 6,000 years [4] respectively. According to the World Health Organization, traditional medicine can be defined as:

“knowledge, skills and practises based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness…is often termed alternative or complementary medicine in many countries.”

I wonder who at the World Health Organization (WHO) is referencing in the statement “…often termed alternative or complementary medicine”? Interesting statement, because according to the same WHO, 70-80% of the world’s population rely on the same non-conventional therapies [5] [6]. It is almost as if the WHO disclaimer is an attempt to try and discredit their definition of traditional medicine. Why make the statement of definition at all? Just an interesting question to ponder. Conventional should be the tag left to describe the current allopathic model. Leave the traditional tag to accompany the historically traditional therapies, which by the way were conventional at the time.

Sweet wormwood, known as Artemsia annua, is known as Qinghaosu in TCM. Dr. Tu’s initial work was with the primary active component of sweet wormwood—artemisinin. As wonderful as artemisinin’s discovery and accolades were, the low bioavailablity and short half-life of oral artemisinin has limited its clinical benefits [7]. According to Merriam-Webster, bioavailability can be defined as “the amount of the administered compound (in this case, artemisinin for clarification) that reaches the systemic circulation that can reach the target tissue to elicit an effect”. The low bioavailability of artemisinin means that very little orally administered artemisinin reaches the intended target tissue. This is not too different than that similar low bioavailability of oral vitamin C. It is the low bioavailability and the short half-life of artemisinin that limits its clinical usefulness. To overcome the limited bioavailability of artemisinin, additional derivatives such as artesunate, dihydroartemisin, artemether, arteeter, and artemisone were developed. The artemisinin derivatives collectively are called artemisinins [8]. These derivatives increase the bioavailability, half-life, and thus clinical effectiveness beyond that of artemisinin . There are many additional useful components of sweet wormwood and derivatives of artemisinin, but that is beyond the scope of this specific post. Artesunate’s delivery with the intravenous route ensures 100% bioavailability and improves half-life, over that of oral artesunate, due to its rapid conversion to the active metabolite dihydroartemisinin to overcome the limitations of oral artemisinin [9] [10]. As a result, artesunate has now become the #1 Artemisia annua derivative used today.


[1] Efferth T, Zacchino S, Georgiev MI, Liu L, Wagner H, Panossian A. Nobel Prize for artemisinin brings phytotherapy into the spotlight. Phytomedicine. Dec 2015;1;22(13):A1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2015.10.003.

[2] Deeken, J.F., Wang, H., Hartley, M. et al. A phase I study of intravenous artesunate in patients with advanced solid tumor malignancies. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2018;81:587–596.

[3] Deng H, Shen X. The mechanism of moxibustion: ancient theory and modern research. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:379291. doi:10.1155/2013/379291

[4] Narayanaswamy V. Origin and development of ayurveda: (a brief history). Anc Sci Life. 1981;1(1):1‐7.

[5] Chauhan A, Semwal DK, Mishra SP, Semwal RB. Ayurvedic research and methodology: Present status and future strategies. Ayu. 2015;36(4):364‐369. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.190699

[6] Jacqui W. Herbal products are often contaminated, study finds. BMJ. 2013;347:f6138.

[7] Charlie-Silva I, Fraceto LF, de Melo NFS. Progress in nano-drug delivery of artemisinin and its derivatives: towards to use in immunomodulatory approaches. Artif Cells Nanomed Biotechnol. 2018;46(sup3):S611-S620. doi: 10.1080/21691401.2018.1505739.

[8] Krishna S, Bustamante L, Haynes RK, Staines HM. Artemisinins: their growing importance in medicine. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2008;29(10):520‐527. doi:10.1016/

[9] Morris, C.A., Duparc, S., Borghini-Fuhrer, I. et al. Review of the clinical pharmacokinetics of artesunate and its active metabolite dihydroartemisinin following intravenous, intramuscular, oral or rectal administration. Malar J. 2011;10, 263.

[10] Byakika-Kibwika P, Lamorde M, Mayito J, et al. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of intravenous artesunate during severe malaria treatment in Ugandan adults. Malar J. Apr 2012;11:132. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-132

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