When 18 severely ill malaria patients in Congo failed to respond to medication, the doctor gave them a yet unapproved treatment with dried leaves of Artemisia annua (Artemisia annua).
In just five days, all 18 patients recovered.
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute wrote about this huge success in the journal Phytomedicine.
It is the first time that resistant malaria in humans has been successfully treated with dried leaves of the plant, said lead investigator Pamela Weathers, who developed the treatment.
The 18 patients in the North Kivu province were initially treated with standard medications, which they did not respond to.
One of the patients, a five year old child even fell into a coma. None of the patients showed improvement.
The doctors established their last hope on the dried leaves of the plant, a treatment that has been extensively studied by Weathers, and her team.
Patients received five days of tablets made from the dried leaves of the plant and a full recovery.
Lab tests showed that they no longer had parasites in their blood.
Weathers noted that more than 100 other patients with resistant malaria have been successfully treated with the tablets.
“These 18 patients were dying,” Weathers said. “It was so amazing to 100 percent, even a child who had fallen into a coma, to see recover.”
Thousands of years
According to the World Health Organization 212 million people were infected with malaria in 2015. Approximately 429,000 people died from the disease.
The disease occurs in nearly 100 countries and threatens nearly half the world’s population. The drugs are expensive, and in the areas most affected is only a limited supply.
Weathers said that Artemisia annua is used for thousands of years by people as a herbal remedy, often in the form of tea.