In a press release published on June 20, the Academy of Medicine “formally advises against the indiscriminate use of herbal teas or decoctions based onArtemisia, in any form whatsoever, for the treatment of Covid-19, as long as rigorously codified and scientifically supported therapeutic protocols have not been proven to be effective and harmless in this indication. »Are therefore targeted decoctions, capsules, herbal teas containing dried leaves ofArtemisia annua or annual mugwort .
A position shared by the French Medicines Agency (ANSM) which last May already denounced “false and dangerous allegations” after the publication on the internet and social networks of numerous messages extolling the therapeutic or preventive virtues of products based on plants against coronavirus.
“The products based on Artemisia annua have so far not demonstrated any therapeutic virtues”, recalled the ANSM on May 4.
What is the Covid-Organics targeted by these warnings?
A tisane, the Covid-Organics, officially launched by the Madagascan president on April 19 and produced by the Madagascan Institute of Applied Research (IMRA), is indeed the buzz. Madagascar is the world’s leading exporter of Artemisia. His active ingredient, artemisinin, is used in combination with other therapeutic combinations, against malaria.
Distributed in a 33 cl bottle or in a bag of dry herbs under the brand “CVO Tambavy”, the Covid-Organics “Contains a mixture, in proportions that have remained confidential, of Malagasy medicinal plants used in the composition of traditional remedies as antiseptics and bronchial thinners”, specifies the Academy of Medicine. Since May 2020, IMRA has been preparing a injectable form for patients in respiratory distress.
No scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Covid-Organics
IF the success of the tisane is real in African countries, it is indeed controversial, even within the Malagasy medical community. The Madagascan Academy of Medicine has thus underlined that these are “drugs of which the scientific evidence is not yet elucidated and which risk harm the health of the population, in particular to that of children ”.
Doctor Michel Yao, responsible for emergency operations for the WHO (World Health Organization) Africa based in Brazzaville, was also alarmed at the end of April, shortly after the official launch of the herbal tea: medicine, our position is clear: there was no test, research is encouraged, but any recommended drug should have been tested and tested to prove its efficacy and safety, so that it is not harmful to the public. This is not the case for this remedy. If we were to recommend it, it would have to be the subject of scientific consensus. ”
After making this important reservation, the Director General of the WHO ended up including Covid-Organics in the clinical trials of the program. “Solidarity trial”.
As for the Academy of Medicine, it underlines, for its part, “the lack of data on the molecules present in the dry matter ofArtemisia annua produced in Madagascar, (…), theno prior study demonstrating antiviral activity artemisinin against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro, (…), The absence of controlled clinical studies of tolerance and efficacy ”.
Artemisia tea also does not protect against malaria
This is not the Academy of Medicine’s first warning against the plant Artemisia annua. It then concerned its use in the fight against malaria: “The proof of its effectiveness has not been demonstrated and people who have taken it have developed serious forms of malaria during a stay abroad. In this context, we had prohibited several operators from marketing products containing Artemisia annua in 2015 and 2017. ”
If theartemisinin is well used in combination therapy against malaria, it should no longer be used alone because this promotesemergence of resistant strains of P. falciparum, one of the parasites involved in malaria. For this reason, the WHO in 2017 called for the withdrawal of all oral artemisinin-based monotherapies.