Sneeze! It was drizzling lightly yesterday while I wandered around the Christmas Market in Schleitheim. Good thing I have some Artemisia leaves! Nothing beats inhaling Artemisia steam for curing a head cold.
I first became excited about Artemisia when I read about its ability to cure Malaria. Since then I know it has been tested for use in cancer treatment and AIDS, and that it is a powerful immune system booster. (For information on Artemisia check out this website: http://www.anamed.net/English_Home/english_home.html
I’ve taught Zambians how to grow Artemisia for several years, and started hundreds of seedlings. But I’d never followed the whole growing period through to harvest and storage. Last spring my cousin Kathy asked for seed and started some plants in northern British Columbia. Mom gave me three of them when I got back to Canada in June. Here in Switzerland my sister-in-law Ruth and husband Freddy grew a very successful plot of Artemisia out of the seedlings I brought back from the Anamed Natural Medicine Seminar in Stuttgart last February. I saw them grow and harvest the crop while here last fall.
I understand better now why so few Africans successfully grow this medicinal plant. It’s finicky, more even than tomatoes I think, and wants a committed gardener. Kathy found it difficult to start the plants from seed. Making cuttings (the only way to propagate this hybrid without seed, which is not readily available everywhere) isn’t so easy either. My cuttings aren’t doing well but Mom’s look great. She used her proven method of making longer cuttings and slicing the stem right under the leaf node. Once growing it’s important to keep the plants moist and fertilized.
Artemisia must be harvested before it begins to flower for optimal medicinal value. It should dry within three days if possible, and preferably not in the sun. It should be brittle dry; something not always easy in tropical regions.
Our plants were small – they had a late start, survived drowning, and were harvested early to escape the first frost. Robert hung them upside down near the heater and they maintained a healthy green colour, which is an indicator of good quality. We stripped the leaves and ground them through a sieve, ending up with over 100 grams of fine powder.
Freddy takes some leaf powder daily to help fight his auto immune system disease. Kathy takes some of the leaf powder whenever others around her have the flu or colds. She feels she is healthier, and wonders that others aren’t more interested in the plant.
We ourselves mostly use Artemisia for malaria prophylaxes while in Zambia. We wouldn’t openly recommend this to others travelling to malaria infested countries. It seems to work quite well for us, but especially for new and short time travellers please take the drugs recommended from your doctor. We still sometimes get malaria, but in a lighter form, and then we take the standard recommended chemical treatments. The Africans successfully using Artemisia as a malaria treatment have much higher rates of antibodies against the disease. Even they must still sometimes resort to a chemical treatment.
If you’re interested in growing some plants yourself you can contact Anamed at the above website. Or leave me a message if you would rather.