3.2.1 A. annua as a Traditional Antimalarial
The earliest record of the medicinal use of the shrub A. annua (Qing Hao) dates back to 168 b.c. in the "Fifty-two prescriptions" discovered in one of the Han Dynasty tombs in Mawangdui; this advocated the use of A. annua for the treatment of hemorrhoids. It is likely that the plant had been used for some time before this, as it appears in the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, the foundation text of Chinese herbal medicine. It is considered that this was first written in about 200 a.d., but represents the cumulative knowledge of herbal medicine transmitted orally over many centuries (Shou-zhong, 1997). This text claims that among other properties, Qing Hao "relieves lodged heat in the joints," which could be interpreted as treating rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly a number of febrile conditions. Li Shizhen (1596) described the use of Qing Hao for malarial fevers in his Bencao Gangmu.
Zhang Ji (150-219 a.d.) in his classic text On Cold Damage (Shang Han Lun) recommends a decoction of A. annua to treat fevers with sweating and jaundice (Mitchell et al., 1999). He recommends that fruits of Gardenia jasminoides and roots of rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) should be added to the decoction. The Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatment (Zhouhou Beiji Fang), written in 340 a.d., also recommends the use of Qing Hao for intermittent fevers. The
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