Wild remedies at work

The Sutherlandia frutescens, a South African traditional herbal medicine used on HIV/AIDS patients to treat wasting from HIV symptoms and to boost the immune system, is believed by practitioners to have antiviral effects. Researchers are conducting trials on the plant, and while it does not appear to bring about full remission, it does show promise in reducing viral count in HIV-positive patients.

Artemisinin, a compound distilled from the dried leaves and flowers of Artemisia annua, the sweet wormwood plant, has been used to treat malaria. Chinese doctors have been using it since the 4th century, and the active compound, called qinghaosu, was isolated in the 1970s. More recent research shows that a new compound synthesized from Artemisia may prove to be an effective treatment for cancer, boosting the plant’s natural ability to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

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