Materia Medica, Pharmacology & Bio-Prospecting

Huang Hua Hao from the School of Chinese Medicine at HKBU

All parts of the mature Artemisia annua L. are used in traditional Chinese medicine and are revered for their antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic, antitumor, antiarrhythmic, immune-boosting, and cooling properties.

While the entire plant is often used year-round, the leaves, flowers, and fruit must be picked seasonally, sun-dried, and stored for future use. The “whole plant,” which includes the leaves, stems, and flower buds, can be harvested in the budding season, as the leaves are present from November to August, but fall during the flowering season of August to October. Except for in the roots, all parts of the plant contain terpenoids like qinghaosu, artemisinin, arteannuin, and artemisinin C, as well as flavonoids, like chrysosplenol, chrysosoplenol D, and casticin, coumarins and volatile oils. As a treatment, the whole plant is regarded as bitter and is used to treat heat stroke, “damp-warm syndrome,” and fevers associated with jaundice, malaria, and the kidney disease yin asthenia. The whole plant can be decocted and administered orally (6g-15g), or externally by administering a powdered, triturated, or decocted form to affected areas.

Particularly regarding the flowers and roots of the plant, the flowers (qinghaozi), which bloom from October to November, turn into spherical, pale green or yellow fruit about 2mm in diameter. The fruit is sweet, and can be used as an oral decoction to treat heatstroke, pyrexia, dysentery, ulcers, sarcoidosis, bastard measles, poor eyesight, and parasite infections. The roots (qinghaogen) are also used in medicinal treatments and are typically harvested in autumn or winter before being sliced and sun-dried. The root contains compounds such as canthin-6-one and 10-hydroxy canthin-6-1 which have antimicrobial and antitumorigenic properties. The root is used to treat pyrexia, arthralgia, and bloody stool. Typically, 3 to 15g of the roots are decocted and administered orally for treatment.


Hong Kong Baptist University. "Artemisia Annua L." In School of Chinese Medicine: Medicinal Plant Images Database. Last modified 2007.
Hong Kong Baptist University. "Artemisinin" In School of Chinese Medicine: Phytochemical Images Database. Last modified 2007.

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