Sweet Annie Herb

What Is Sweet Annie?

Artemisia annua is a plant with small yellow flowers. It contains flavonoids, essential oils, and artemisinin, which is a compound that many people think has health benefits. Other names for this plant include sweet Annie, sweet wormwood, and qinghao. It’s native to China and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years.

Malaria is a life-threatening illness. A parasite that mosquitoes carry causes this illness. People have found that artemisinin kills these parasites.

Some herbal remedies are made from the dried leaves of sweet Annie and sold as malaria treatments. However, the World Health Organization Trusted Source encourages people to avoid using these products to treat malaria. Instead, it recommends pharmaceutical drugs made from artemisinin and other compounds.

Antimalarial drugs that contain artemisinin usually also include another drug. People commonly use these medications in countries where malaria is common. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Trusted Source also approved Coartem for use in the United States. This is the first disheartening-based drug approved in the United States.

Some doctors are concerned that parasites carrying malaria could become resistant to artemisinin in countries where malaria is widespread.

Can sweet Annie treat cancer?

More research is necessary to determine if sweet Annie is a useful treatment for cancer. Scientists continue to research sweet Annie’s effect on cancer cells. According to an article published in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences Trusted Source, artemisinin may be useful for treating leukemia and cancers of the:

Sweet Annie is an herb. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Sweet Annie is used most commonly for malaria. It contains a chemical that can be changed in the laboratory to make it more effective against malaria. This lab-made product is sold as a prescription drug for malaria in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Sweet Annie is also used for bacterial infections such as dysentery and tuberculosis; illnesses caused by worms, other parasites, and mites; fungal infections; and viral infections such as the common cold. Other uses include treatment of upset stomach, fever, yellowed skin (jaundice), psoriasis, systemic lupus erythrocytes (SLE) and other autoimmune disorders, loss of appetite, blood vessel disorders, constipation, gallbladder disorders, stomach pain, painful menstruation, and joint pain (rheumatism).

People with AIDS sometimes use sweet Annie to prevent an often fatal type of lung infection called pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) that is caused by a fungus.

Sweet Annie is sometimes applied directly to the skin for bacterial and fungal infections, arthritis and other joint pain, bruises, nerve pain, and sprains.

A Sweet Annie Garden Wreath  

Although each sweet Annie plant lives for only a single growing season, it readily self-seeds, and after one or two have become established in your garden, you’re sure to have plants for years to come. Be patient in waiting for your first seeds to germinate. We usually till the soil, then sow the fine seeds directly in the ground in May (a few weeks before the last frost in our Zone 5 garden), walking back over the sown rows to firm in the seed. It sometimes takes a month for the small, feathery-leaved seedlings to appear. We sometimes sow the seeds indoors in a flat of potting mix about two months before the last frost date. Press the seeds into the soil or just barely cover them, and keep the flat at 60° to 70°F. Pot up the seedlings when they’re about 2 inches high, and keep them indoors until all danger of frost has passed. Harden off the potted plants for at least a week, setting them outdoors in a protected area for a longer period each day, and then transplant to the garden.

Space the plants at least 3 to 4 feet apart in the garden so they’ll grow full and well branched: each one can grow to the size and shape of a Christmas tree by harvest time. The plants will grow steadily until late summer, when they shoot up to 6 feet or more in height. (Transplanted sweet Annie usually doesn’t grow as large as self-sown plants do.) Neighbors may think you have missed pulling some very large weeds, but you can encourage them to brush against the foliage to release its lovely, fruity fragrance.

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