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Artemisinin vs Dihydroartemisinin

Artemisinin vs Dihydroartemisinin


DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin
  • Efficacy against Malaria
  • Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics
  • Safety Profile
  • Combination Therapies
  • Conclusion
  • References


Two important antimalarial compounds derived from the plant Artemisia annua are artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin. Because of their potent antimalarial properties, they have received a lot of attention in the medical community. In this article, we will look at Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin's chemical structure, mode of action, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, safety profile, resistance, combination therapies, availability, and future directions.


Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin

Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin are sesquiterpene lactone compounds derived from the Artemisia annua plant. For centuries, these compounds have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fever and malaria. Their potential as potent antimalarial agents, however, was not discovered until the 1970s.

Chemical Properties and Structure

Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin have chemical structures that are similar but differ in an important way. The antimalarial activity of artemisinin is due to the presence of an endoperoxide bridge. Dihydroartemisinin, on the other hand, is the reduced form of Artemisinin that lacks the endoperoxide bridge. This structural difference is important in their pharmacological properties.

Method of Action

Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin work by interacting with heme, a component of hemoglobin found in malaria parasites. In the presence of iron, these compounds undergo a chemical reaction that results in the formation of toxic free radicals. These radicals destroy the parasite's cell membranes and other vital structures, eventually killing it.


Efficacy against Malaria

The Potency of Artemisinin

Artemisinin has shown exceptional antimalarial efficacy, particularly in cases of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. It clears parasites quickly and reduces the overall parasite burden in the patient's bloodstream. However, the emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria strains has become a concern in some areas.

The Power of Dihydroartemisinin

Artemisinin's active metabolite, dihydroartemisinin, has similar antimalarial efficacy. It is more rapidly absorbed and has a higher bioavailability than Artemisinin. The body's conversion of Artemisinin to Dihydroartemisinin ensures a long-lasting antimalarial effect.


Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics


Artemisinin has a short half-life, necessitating multiple daily doses for effective treatment. It is metabolized quickly in the body, primarily by the liver. Artemisinin is frequently administered in combination with other antimalarial drugs due to its low bioavailability.


Dihydroartemisinin has better pharmacokinetic properties than Artemisinin. It has a longer half-life, making once-daily dosing possible. Dihydroartemisinin's increased bioavailability contributes to its improved antimalarial activity.


Safety Profile


Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin are generally well tolerated, with few side effects reported. High doses of Artemisinin, on the other hand, may cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea and vomiting. Both compounds should be used under medical supervision and as part of a comprehensive antimalarial treatment regimen.


Dihydroartemisinin has the same safety profile as Artemisinin. When adverse effects do occur, they are usually mild and transient. To reduce the risk of side effects, it is critical to stick to the prescribed dosage and duration of treatment.

Cross-Resistance and Resistance

Malaria control efforts are being hampered by the emergence of artemisinin-resistant strains. Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin resistance has been reported in some areas, primarily in Southeast Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the importance of monitoring and surveillance in preventing resistance and developing effective anti-resistance strategies.


Combination Therapies

Combination Therapies (ACTs) based on artemisinin

For uncomplicated malaria, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the first-line treatment. Artemisinin or its derivatives are combined with a partner drug, typically a longer-acting antimalarial. This combined approach improves efficacy, prevents resistance, and shortens treatment duration.

Combination Therapies Based on Dihydroartemisinin

Combination Therapies based on dihydroartemisinin have also been developed and are used in some areas. These combinations provide similar benefits to ACTs and contribute to effective malaria management.

Availability and Price

Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin are antimalarial medications that are available worldwide. Their accessibility varies according to region and local healthcare infrastructure. The price of these medications can also vary, with generic formulations typically being less expensive.


Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin are valuable antimalarial compounds derived from Artemisia annua. They have revolutionized the treatment of malaria, saving countless lives worldwide. Understanding the chemical properties, mode of action, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, safety profile, and challenges associated with these compounds is essential for the effective management and control of malaria. With further research and concerted efforts, we can continue to combat malaria and improve the health and well-being of communities affected by this devastating disease.

Continuous research and development efforts are focused on improving the efficacy, safety, and accessibility of Artemisinin and Dihydroartemisinin-based treatments. Scientists are exploring novel drug delivery systems, combination therapies, and alternative sources of Artemisinin production to meet the increasing global demand for effective antimalarials.

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References and Resources