The dried leaf or extract of the Artemisia annua plant or its natural derivative artemisinin are available as supplements with anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

How do experts use Artemesia annua and artemisinin?

Integrative experts provide recommendations for Artemisia annua and artemisinin in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations: Integrative Oncology Programs and Expert Guidelines ›

Clinical practice guidelines

Artemisia annua and artemisinin are not mentioned in the practice guidelines we consulted.

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

Artemisia annua and artemisinin are used in programs, approaches, and protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care from these integrative oncologists, drawing from both scientific research and observations from years or even decades of treating people with cancer.

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella

Uses of Artemisia annua and artemisinin:

  • Head and neck cancer
  • Prostate cancer

In her 2010 book, naturopathic oncologist Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, advises avoiding using artemisinin during radiation therapy and for an additional 30 days after therapy ends.1Alschuler LN, Gazella KA. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts. 2010.

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

In his 2009 book integrative physician Keith Block, MD, advises: “Until we have more research, I advise not taking this herbal while you are undergoing conventional treatment.”2Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009. p. 476.

Barbara MacDonald, ND, LAc

MacDonald B. The Breast Cancer Companion—A Complementary Care Manual: Third Edition. Self-published. 2016.

Naturopathic physician Barbara MacDonald provides information about breast cancer, its conventional treatment, and natural approaches to enhancing treatment, managing side effects, reducing risk of recurrence, and healthy living after cancer treatment is completed.

Uses of Artemisia annua and artemisinin:

  • Liver metastases
  • Immune modulator for preventing breast cancer recurrence
  • Metastatic breast cancer

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Uses of artemisinin:

  • Breast cancer
  • Carcinoid (gastrointestinal neuroendocrine) tumor
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Liver and gallbladder cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Nasopharyngeal, head and neck cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Skin cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thyroid
  • Vulva cancer

Compatible with cetuximab
Works best when the patient is physically active 
Best to avoid red meat and stop antioxidant supplements during treatment with artemisinin

Uses of Artemisia annua:

  • Constipation
  • Hormone balance
  • Inflammation

Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO, and Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Parmar G, Kaczor T. Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology: A Desktop Guide of Integrative Cancer Care. 1st edition. Medicatrix Holdings Ltd. 2020.

This book provides information on the treatment of 24 cancers, plus the most effective treatments of the most common symptoms affecting cancer patients while they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Uses of Artemisia annua and artemisinin:

  • Melanoma following chemotherapy
  • Remission maintenance

Traditional medicine

Artemisia annua is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Learn more about traditional medicine and how to find practitioners: Finding Integrative Oncologists and Other Professionals ›

Other expert assessments

Moss Reports

Moss regards artemisinin as a promising, but not a proven, therapy.

Dosing

Exact dosage of the herb Artemisia annua in cancer has not been determined in clinical trials. Concentrations of the active ingredients vary among products.3Alschuler LN, Gazella KA. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts. 2010. p. 388. 

Integrative cancer care plans, protocols, and assessments listed above suggest doses:

Other sources also provide dosing information.

General information about dosing

Find general dosing guidelines regarding natural products and supplements in Dosing Guidelines ›

Keep reading about Artemisia annua and artemisinin

Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: December 7, 2023

Last full literature review: October 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.

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