Chinese scientists have
isolated several compounds with antimalarial activity from species of Artemisia. These include artemisinin (Qinghaosu), artesunate, and artemether.
These sesquiterpene peroxides are potent and rapidly acting antimalarial drugs
that show rela-tively low human toxicity. They are active against blood stages,
especially in patients with severe manifestations, such as cerebral malaria and
chloroquine-resistant malarial infections. They possess activity against the
erythrocytic stages of human malaria and have no effect on the liver or
exoerythrocytic stage of the parasite; their gameticidal activity is not clear.
They are most use-ful in treating life-threatening cerebral edema. At pres-ent
artemisinin, artesunate, and artemether are avail-able outside the United