Objective: This review intends to motivate and encourage researchers to explore new alternatives to treat different diseases with Artemisia annua L., an important plant of traditional Chinese pharmacopoeia that has been used for more than 2.000 years in the treatment of different diseases, mainly malaria. Methods: Data include currently available information about A. annua, its origin, traditional use in medicine, pharmacological activity, toxicity and main metabolites with reported clinical activity. The information was collected by literature search on web databases such as Pubmed and Google Scholar up to 2014 on publications about the medicinal uses of A. annua L., in the treatment of different diseases that affect humans but also some animals.
Results: Pharmacological activity against chronic and infectious diseases of various metabolites from A. annua, artemisinin and its derivatives, flavonoids and essential oils, reported in this review, is supported by preclinical experimental evidence both in vivo and in vitro and clinical observations in human beings of different parts of the plant, mainly leaves, in the treatment of malaria. Leaves, seeds and whole plant of A. annua have also proved pharmacological activity against parasites responsible of leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. Recently, the first report of in vivo efficacy of A. annua against dengue fever was published.
Conclusions: This review highlights the pharmacological potential of the A. annua plant in the treatment of several infectious diseases and unveils its suitable profile of safety and tolerability.
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