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Pierre Lutgen's blog

Mosquitocidal and repellent properties of plant extracts.

May 6, 2015 - 14:27 -- Pierre Lutgen

Mosquitoes are progressively becoming resistant to industrial repellents and insecticides. This is the case for pyrethroids used on bednets.

Most of these products are expensive and African households cannot afford their purchase.

Plants, their extracts and their essential oils have been used during centuries to fight aggressive mosquitoes responsible for malaria, dengue, sleeping sickness but also insects acting as vectors for many other diseases.

Saponin lowers iron, glucose, uric acid and cholesterol: key factors in malaria

April 28, 2015 - 17:47 -- Pierre Lutgen

Most research work on Artemisia annua has ignored saponins and polysaccharides because these are only soluble in water and in the search of the golden fleece or the exceptional antimalarial molecule most extracts are obtained with organic solvents.

Saponins are found in many plants, often in desert plants and are also present in some marine organisms. Most medicinal plants are rich in saponins, which to a large extent are responsible for their bitterness. In fact saponins protect plants from phytopathogenic microorganisms, phytophagous mammalian and insects.

Geophagia, Artemisia afra and Tuberculosis

April 16, 2015 - 14:57 -- Pierre Lutgen

Three diseases at least are caused by mycobacteria : leprosy, tuberculosis and Buruli ulcer. Iron is a prerequisite for the growth of mycobacteria. It is a cofactor for numerous enzymes encoded in the mycobacterium genome. It is required for the cytochromes involved in electron transport. It has been estimated that 7 to 64 g Fe per kg of mycobacterial cell mass is required to support growth. Iron limitation in vitro to levels below these results in growth restriction in many species of mycobacteria, such as M.tuberculosis.

Artemisia's incredible impact on health care costs

April 9, 2015 - 20:34 -- Pierre Lutgen

In a country in the center of Africa two plants producing the same palm oil based cosmetic products and belonging to the same shareholder have established for the first quarter 2015 the balance of their health care costs. The first plant employs 168 people, the second 458 people. In the first plant the total health care costs per employee are 6.1 times lower than in the second. In the first plant people have been convinced a few years ago that regular consumption of Artemisia annua tea could be prophylactic and beneficial for several diseases, particularly for malaria.

Selenium, malaria and infections

February 20, 2015 - 10:48 -- Pierre Lutgen

 Selenium is an essential trace element in human health and disease. It is currently a subject of intense interest and appears to play a key role in malaria. Selenium has important health effects related to the immune response. It appears to be a key nutrient in counteracting the development of virulence and inhibiting HIV progression to AIDS. In the context of health effects, low selenium status in some parts of the world, notably in Africa, is giving cause for concern.

Selenium and immunity

A Mosquito Repellent from Burundi

January 27, 2015 - 10:34 -- Pierre Lutgen

The association ACECI in Burundi ( has developed a mosquito repellent based on Nepeta cataria (catmint in english, cataire en français, Katzenminze auf deutsch). The study by local students in medicine in collaboration with Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique together with the Government of Burundi showed that catnip oil reduced the number of bites from mosquitoes by 91.7%. The trial involved 60 volunteers.

Gallium, key element in the excellent Bamileke Artemisia?

January 23, 2015 - 16:58 -- Pierre Lutgen

Over the years IFBV-BELHERB accumulated puzzling data concerning Artemisia annua grown on the Bamileke plateau in Cameroon.

Among all the clinical trials we have run in several countries, the infusion from Cameroon gave probably the best results (Rosine Chougouo et al, Proceedings MIM Conf, Nairobi, Kenya, 2 Nov 2009, no 312). The results of the comparative study showed a significantly higher sensistivity for the Artemisia annua concoction (0% late therapeutic failure), much better than 12.5 % for artesunate and 14.3% for artesunate-amodiaquine.

Artemisia stems, nitrate and malaria

January 10, 2015 - 16:30 -- Pierre Lutgen

Many anecdotical or scientific results indicate that leaves and stems of Artemisia annua have different therapeutical properties, often higher for leaves, sometimes lower.

Our efforts so far to elucidate key factors explaining these differences have failed. Artemisinin, polyphenols, essential oils are higher in leaves, scopoletin sometimes lower. If the therapeutical properties against malaria, bacteria or nematodes, really are proportional to the concentration of these organic key constituants the healing power of stems should be close to zero.

Africans are following the new WHO traditional medicine strategy

December 26, 2014 - 07:47 -- Pierre Lutgen

Following the recommandations in the WHO Tradtional Medicine 2014-2023 document published in Decembrer 2013 in several African countries Centers for Traditional Medicine are stepping up their activities

- Centre de Médecine Traditionnelle de Buta, abbé Léopold Mvukiye

- Homeopharma, Institut de Soins Naturels, Madagascar

- Centre de Médecine Tradtionnelle du Mali (Bandiaraga)

- In the Gambia the National Agricultural Research Institute

- Département de Médecine, INRS, Bamako, Mali

- In Uganda the Ministry of Health and the University of Makerere


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