Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

The Wonder Pill

. .
Coincidental Cures

Photo of WormwoodRemedy: Wormwood
Artemisia absinthium

Artemisia absinthium's ability to rid the intestines of parasitic worms earned this plant its common name, "Wormwood," and its reputation for curing a wide variety of stomach ailments. Folkloric medicinal uses of this bitter root are documented in ancient Egyptian writings and the Bible. In the 1970s, archeologists unearthed ancient Chinese medical recipes that used Wormwood to treat malaria, a disease caused by a mosquito-borne blood parasite.

Research revealed that a compound in Wormwood called "artemisinin" does in fact help kill off the malaria parasite in the blood stream, and the treatment regained popularity in modern Asia and Africa. More recently, researchers at the University of Washington have looked into artemisinin's ability to kill cancer cells. In a 2001 article in the journal Life Sciences, researchers Henry Lai and Naredndra Singh reported that artemisinin killed 75% of human breast cancer cells exposed to the compound after just eight hours. Earlier research suggests artemisinin is even more effective with Leukemia. Though these results are very promising, the compound will require more laboratory tests before even preliminary testing begins in humans.

Click to learn more about dandelionClick to learn more about capsacinClick to learn more about cloverClick to more learn about St. John's WortClick to learn more about cod liver oilFront page

photo: Scott Bauer, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

return to show page




© 1990-2003 The Chedd-Angier Production Company, Inc. All rights reserved. A Different Way to HealBrainwaves Lift the BluesExpectation PaysSnuffing the SnifflesHealing Rituals Teaching guide Email Scientists Watch Online Web links & more Contact Search Homepage