COVID-19: Herbal Uses Of Artemisia (Mhlonyane) In Africa Vs Madagascar’s Artemisia Annua

COVID-19 herbal plant Artemisia Afra Mhlonyane

COVID-19 Madagascar Artemisia

COVID-19 treatment possibilities saw a surge of excitement in South Africa after Madagascar produced its Artemisia-based “coronavirus cure.” South Africans grew very excited about it as Artemisia grows naturally in the country. However, for those not familiar with the herb, a species known as Artemisia absinthium from Europe differs a bit from the plant in Madagascar. It also differs slightly from the African version known as Artemisia afra, or Mhlonyane.

Disclaimer: Please always consult a medical professional before using home-brewed natural medicines. Side effects could prove dangerous, or interfere with current medication. The potential for this herb to fight COVID-19 is not approved by any scientific laboratory outside of Madagascar, and neither is it endorsed by the South African government. This article is intended for information purposes only and is not recommended as a cure for anything. 

COVID-19 hopes for Artemisia (Mhlonyane) in South Africa

News broke that Madagascar produced and distributed Covid-Organics, a “therapy…developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research,” Science Mag reported. Touted as a cure for the coronavirus, many people grew excited. However, it got a sceptical response from the WHO and western governments. As Artemisia afra grows locally in South Africa, images of people selling it as a herbal treatment on the roadside emerged on Twitter.

Impatiently, people who know the plant, await the news that it helps prevent deaths from the virus. They hope to import the drink into the country. However, apart from offering to assist with scientific studies, South Africa seems reluctant to commit to the importation of the drink. On May 17, VOA reported, “researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, in Potsdam, are collaborating with a U.S. company, ArtemiLife, to test an extract from the plant Artemisia annua to determine its effectiveness in speeding recovery from the COVID-19 virus.”

Different plants – the Madagascar Artemisia is not the same as the South African plant

The Madagascan Artemisia arrived in that country via the Chinese who grew it for anti-malarial treatments. It’s known as the “Sweet Annie.” South Africa has the Artemisia plant known as “Wild Wormwood.” It’s the African counterpart to the European plant of the same name, “Wormwood.” According to the Washington Association of Natural Physicians, (WANP.org), the plants are related. However, they are actually different species of the same plant family.

As the Sweet Annie helps with malarial treatment, some scientists fear its use could compromise current malarial treatments. Nevertheless, Science Mag notes it seemed effective in a “petri dish” again the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus.” But, it never got tested on humans. As all Artemisia plants have an antimicrobial effect, the potential use for COVID-19 might be relevant.

South Africans use the local wormwood variety despite government caution

On Twitter, many South Africans celebrate the fact they can buy Artemisia afra locally, or order it online and get it delivered by courier. Known as Wild Wormwood or by the Afrikaans name Wilde Als, it’s been used for hundreds of years by indigenous southern African peoples. Early white settlers gained knowledge of the medicinal properties of this herb mainly from Khosian, Xhosa, and Ngqika sources. The Zulu name is Mhlonyane;  Xhosa: Umlonyane;  Southern Sotho: Zenana.

Many claims have been made as to its efficiency in curing ills such as fevers and bronchial ailments. It’s used to treat a multitude of things, including respiratory infections, coughs, sore throats, influenza, constipation, worms, jaundice, and more. Mainly, the plant gets made into a tea using the leaves. Sometimes, as it leaves a bitter taste, a sweetener like honey or sugar gets added. But note the health minister’s stance on it as a cure for COVID-19.

For those who who don’t know how to use the herbal tea

While many South Africans grew up with the herb used by their mothers and grandmothers, they already use it. One Twitter distributor told us that they “boil it in a pot of water and inhale the vapours and steam through the mouth and nose. They then suggest “drinking half a cup of boiled water/tea per day.” They recommend people store it in a fridge to “conserve potency and use as needed against flu-related symptoms.”

But, for these people unfamiliar with it, it sounds like a scary prospect. After all, they know little about it. However, interest in any natural herb that might help with COVID-19 is naturally quite high. The plant’s not banned in the country, but caution is advised. Herbal experts in their field, like Margaret Roberts, Yvette van Wyk, Maria Thurbin, all accept that the people of South Africa use the plant in a variety of ways.

Making a tea with Mhlonyane similar to the Madagascar COVID-19 ‘cure’

Our contributor noted the differences between the method of preparation recommend by the Twitter distributor and books on the subject. This recipe involves:

  • Pick three sprigs, approximately 15cms long and chop (or tear) them, then place in a suitable receptacle (N.B.: Use only glass, china or stainless steel. NOT aluminium).
  • Pour over 600 ml boiling water and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  • Strain the herb into a container, squeezing out as much of the juice as possible, and then sweeten to taste.

Note: Wilde Als is very potent so it is important not to exceed the dosage which is as follows:

  • Take 10 ml (1 dessertspoon) in the morning and at night, for no longer than 4 days.
  • If too large or prolonged a dose is taken, the blood vessels will dilate and have an effect on the heart.

Notably, most scientific articles mention that pregnant woman should take care and avoid using it, whether for COVID-19 or not.


Disclaimer: Please always consult a medical professional before using home-brewed natural medicines. Side effects could prove dangerous, or interfere with current medication. The potential for this herb to fight COVID-19 is not approved by any scientific laboratory outside of Madagascar, and neither is it endorsed by the South African government. This article is intended for information purposes only and is not recommended as a cure for anything. 

Remember to check back with SAns Newsfeed for more news and views about South Africa during COVID-19.  (Contributor, Mrs IE Smallbones.)

 

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