Thursday, 3 December 2015

Herbal antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals are anti-infection superheroes

How does one herb save millions of lives?

The worldwide crisis on the emergence of superbugs is unfolding. It appears that genius microbes are outwitting our ability to eradicate them with single constituent single action super-chemicals made in factories. Maybe the drugs are too simple and the bugs not all that clever. In comparison herbs are multi-constituent and multi-action complex vegetation that have co-evolved with microbes over millions of years.

Complex herbs match the less than genius bugs.

Many common ailments such as sinus problems, sore throats, simple urinary tract infections and superficial wounds do not need drugs in most cases. Many times, these can be effectively treated with the right lifestyle changes and herbal medicines. More complex disease may need professional treatment form a well qualified herbalist. This is not a modest claim, the time for underestimating and playing a modest hand for herbs is over. Witness the role of the plant Artemisia annua for malaria which I have been using in my clinic for almost 20 years. The current Nobel Prize Winner Dr Tu Youyou has rediscovered the role of this plant in the teeth of a worldwide malaria crisis due to super-drug resistance.

The 2015 Nobel Prize winner TuYouyou rediscovered the use of Artemisia in the treatment malaria, According to the Nobel committee, her work saves more than 100,000 lives in Africa alone every year. The World Health Organization says modern malaria treatments — which include some form of an artemisinin have saved more than 3 million lives since 2000.

Figure 4: Youyou Tu searched ancient literature on herbal medicine in her quest to develop novel malaria therapies. The plant Artemisia annua turned out to be an interesting candidate, and Tu developed a purification procedure, which rendered the active agent, Artemisinin, a drug that is remarkably effective against Malaria.

Youyou Tu was born in 1930 in China and is a Chinese citizen. She graduated from the Pharmacy Department at Beijing Medical University in 1955. From 1965-1978 she was Assistant Professor at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, from 1979-1984 Associate Professor and from 1985 Professor at the same Institute. From 2000, Tu has been Chief Professor at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In my next blog I will talk about my top Antimicrobial herbs. 

1 comment:

  1. Can Artemesia be used both internally and externally? Would it be the herb of preference for athletes foot?