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Artesunate - Cheney dosage and benefits

Discussion in 'Antivirals, Antibiotics and Immune Modulators' started by Daisymay, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Artesunate--again

    Hi all; I posted here a while ago to say that I had been having a rough patch, and had stopped taking Artesunate for the time being; Maxine (Hysterical Woman) has also been taking it, and has also hit a rough patch. Kim has kindly put the latest review by Efferth on The Toxicity of the Antimalarial Artemisinin and its Derivatives into the Research Library, and so though I posted a few conclusions taken from the abstract on this thread a while ago, I have now read the full text, and can report here on its findings.
    One difficulty is that most of the trials of Artesunate have been short term anti-malarial dosings, and though the stuff is being actively pursued for its anti-cancer possibilities, there is little information from those trials yet. There are a good many animal studies.

    In the short term human trials, at daily doses roughly equivalent to one or two 500 mg capsules of Artesunate, there have been very few serious side effects, and some of those have been difficult to distinguish from the effects of the malaria the drug is counteracting; common were nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which are also symptoms of malaria. Tenesmus (painful spasm of the anal sphincterI may have suffered that for a few days) did occur in some patients who were given Artemisinin via suppository (not my case!); this is described as associated with IBS, which I think I had for the first time in my life. At least I had painful and obvious gut problems on a scale I have never before experiencedmaybe the Artesunate was killing off both good and bad bugs in my gut? The problems have now resolved, with help from Oil of Peppermint and some probiotics.

    Some neurotoxicity has been described, and may be due to the Reactive Oxygen Species that artemisinins cause, and which is part of how they kill parasites and other bugs. In animal studies (using much higher doses than we would normally take) neural damage was found, including to the auditory and vestibular systems. In human studies, ataxia and slurred speech have been found, but were assigned to disease rather than the artemisinis. Some degree of ataxia (gait and movement disturbance) is common in CFS, but I think I noticed an increase during the last two months, now thankfully retreating. Hearing deficits and ataxia, nystagmus and slurred speech have been described after wormwood (artemisinin) treatment for breast cancer. All these effects were reversible upon discontinuation.

    There is documented embryotoxicityyou would not want to get pregnant while on Artesunate--attributed again to increased Reactive Oxygen Species. It is also potentially genotoxic and mutagenic. Toxicological studies show that an acute dose produces neurological symptoms and cardiotoxicity and some negative effects on red blood cells.

    In dogs, Arteether (another artemisinin derivative) caused progressive cardiorespiratory collapse and deathbut the dose was 20 mg/kg/day, equivalent to a 70 kilo (154 lb) human taking 1,400 mgs per dayapprox 3 x 500 mg capsules. The same dose produced a prolongation of the QTc interval on ECG, together with bizarre ST-T segment changes. During February I did have some alarming blood pressure spikes, and what felt like cardio problems, but ECG produced no disturbing signals, and since these are symptoms I have had before starting any artemisinins, I hesitate to ascribe them directly.

    Cheney has been testing his patients for liver function, it seems, and at his current dose of 500 mg three times a week has found no liver toxicity. This does not appear to be a trouble spot with Artemisinins at these doses.

    How to sum up? Cheney reports that he has found reversal (I take it diminution rather than total disappearance) of diastolic dysfunction in some of his patients with Artesunate, and that is excitingit implies a corresponding diminution in OI, a primary symptom, and perhaps eventually of PEM too, though he has not written about that as far as I know.

    I seemed to be improving slowly on it until mid January or so, and indeed an echocardiogram in January showed a slight improvement in E/A wave ratio over one I had in Oct 2008, one sign of improving diastolic function. I have to assume that Artesunate was attacking viruses successfully, and there is good evidence for its power to do that. So the diastolic dysfunction so many of us experience should be attributed to viral attackor mito degeneration maybe caused by viral attack-- rather than to simple aging, as cardiologists tend to assumeat least in my experience. As Cheney points out on his DVD, cardiologists have no answer for diastolic dysfunction.

    But I cannot deny my own experience, which suggests that there may be danger in using it long term, even at the modest dose Cheney suggests. I cannot know for sure whether my symptoms over the last months had anything to do with Artesunate; I can say that I now seem to be improving after taking myself off it for nearly a month. My mistake may have been to take Artemisinin for some months before starting on Artesunate; that may have prepared the way for some damage. Efferth is clear that the evidence points to long term use rather than short term intensive use as the danger, and I think he is right.

    For the time being I shall focus again on those things that seem to help the immune system fight off bugswhey, curcumin, NAC all have documented power to raise glutathione, and whey and mushroom beta glucans seem to help Natural Killer cell function. Maybe I will try inosine again, or make another attempt to get Immunovir or LDN. And then maybe in another month or two give Artesunate another try, on a shorter time frame. The stuff is potent enough to demand respect.
    Best, Chris
  2. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    Thanks Chris for the thoughtful post with really useful information

    I have been taking Artesunate for 2 months now using the 3 a week method.

    When I first started I had been ill since Christmas 2009 with suspected swine flu. The flu symptoms cleared up with the first 2 weeks but did get worse in the short term.

    Warning - there may be TMI after this sentence ("girl's stuff")

    Since then the most obvious change is that my menstrual cycle has become screwed up in a way that is very unusual for me. The first cycle on Artesunate lasted 6 weeks (instead of 4) with terrible period type pain in the abdomen for the last 2 weeks. Then a very heavy bleed with clots.

    Anyone else had this change?

    I am xmrv+
  3. Cloud

    Cloud Guest

    My LLMD said that Arteminisin has a fairly high potential for liver toxicty, and can only be used short term. Not sure how true that would be for Artesunate. I didn't get the chance to discuss with her it's anti (retro)viral affects, in particular, xmrv....Need to do that.
  4. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Hi, Cloud; won't argue over Artemisinin, but Cheney reports only one case of liver toxicity due to Artesunate, which was reversible upon discontinuation, and that was caused by a patient taking 500 mg every day continuously--not, obviously, following his advice. Efferth reports little on this score, and I had my own liver enzymes tested during this period, including the month of real crash, and they were normal. Best, Chris
  5. Hysterical Woman

    Hysterical Woman Senior Member

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    Chris - thanks for your post.

    Chris wrote: Maxine (Hysterical Woman) has also been taking it, and has also hit a rough patch.

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comprehensive post. I have indeed hit a rough patch. Yesterday I saw the RN/herbalist who does consultations at a local health food store. She does believe that the artesunate at least contributed to if not caused my recent gut problems. I also took wormwood, but only for a very short period of time. She knows that I am extremely sensitive to stuff and believes that I took the artesunate for too long (even tho it was a small swish and spit dose) without taking breaks and "building" with things like holy basil and ashwaganda.

    Her current recommendations are probiotics through foods such as yogurt and kefir (there is some good kefir info on other threads) along with some other things when I can work them in: freshly ground flax seed, jerusalem artichokes, burdock root, slippery elm powder, marshmallow, aloe (not green).

    I have been doing kefir for a few days already and it seems to help. I was sad that they didn't have the goat's milk kefir at the hfs yesterday, so got some of the cow's milk one (Helios). I stirred some slippery elm into it this morning. I have my fingers crossed.

    Take care,

    HW
  6. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Artesunate and.

    Hi, Maxine and other Artesunate users; I seem to have recovered from my crash, and have just resumed Artesunate, but on a pulsed schedule--I am trying alternate weeks, with 2 x 50 mg Mondays, and 1 x 50 Wed and Fr; no wormwood. On the alternate weeks I am taking Stem-Kine, 2 capsules per day; I take the odd single capsule during the Artesunate weeks.

    I have only just started this dosing, and so cannot give a serious report, but so far I am feeling pretty good and improving quite fast--walking speed and distance, sleep, ability to work all improved. I have given reasons for thinking that pulsing may be the way to go with Stem-Kine too on the Stem Cells thread and won't repeat them here. I just hope that pulsing Artesunate like this may avoid the destruction of all the good bugs in the gut, which both Maxine and I seemed to undergo.
    Best, Chris
  7. citybug

    citybug Senior Member

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    Does Cheney talk about, or does anyone know if it is okay to take oxymatrine and artesunate at the same time? I was interested in both, and started with oxymatrine for gut issues. Seemed to do better, but then would return. Then both came up positiive for me with xyto machine. Oxymatrine is supposed to be immune modulator. I was switching to artesunate but need to keep working on gut issues.
  8. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Hi, KDP; can't answer your question directly, since I know nothing about either oxymatrine or xyto machines, but Cheney does use both Artesunate and Inosine, which is apparently an immune modulator. I think Hysterical Woman was using Inosine and Artesunate together, and I was using Artesunate and a mushroom based immune modulator (AOR's Immune Support, cousin of AHCC?), and both of us eventually came down with nasty gut symptoms (though mine cleared after a few weeks); we both guessed that the Artesunate might eventually have wiped out good bugs and left the way open for bad bugs to do their work, but that was only guessing, and in my case there were also other unpleasant symptoms. I am now back on Artesunate on alternate weeks, to try to allow good bugs to keep going (fed by daily probiotic use). Good luck! Best, Chris
  9. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    Chris
    why do you suspect that artesunate killed off good gut bugs? Are you tracking with testing? Stool tests?
    If not, what are your suspicions based on? Is there anything in the literature about this?
    Also, why not use kefir &/or probiotics? It's cheap and some say stronger than commercial probiotics.
    tHANKS
  10. citybug

    citybug Senior Member

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    Thanks Chris for posting more info. Well it's good to know artesunate wouldn't necessarily get the gut bugs on its own. I'll keep up the probiotic.
  11. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Artesunate and the gut

    Hi, Aquariusgirl and kdp; sorry I can't be more definite on whether or not Artesunate was responsible for my crash, but I don't work with a sympathetic and knowledgeable doc, and can only get simple testing. So I know it was not basically my liver kicking up. I do take a probiotic--a mix of Lactobacillus Reuteri and Rhamnus, for which there seems some good evidence; I have now added Bifid longum. I stay away from dairy products, and so have not tried Kefir, but my gut seems fine now.

    I have read and posted what I could find about Artesunate potential toxicity, but the problem is that most of the human experience is with short term use for malaria, which reports occasional intense short term stomach reactions, though they are usually assumed to be caused by the parasite and not the drug. Trials have begun with cancer patients, but there is not much information coming from that source yet. Cheney has not been reporting any long term gut problems so far as I know, so my guess was just that--a guess, but since Hysterical Woman came down with gut problems about the same time, it seemed foolish to ignore the possibility, and I wanted to report it here just to alert others to the possibility.

    Maybe I should also report that I was popping the odd capsule of Olive Leaf, and maybe it was the mix of those with the Artesunate that did the damage--I guess I have to relearn that basic lesson--don't take too many things simultaneously. I am not a quick learner!

    My symptoms also included a return of very disturbing high blood pressure spikes accompanied by chest pain (not angina, it seemed), dizziness, etc., and some of this did seem to match some of the recorded bad responses to Artesunate. ECG at the Emergency found no evidence of significant heart problems, nor any others for that matter, and the blood pressure spikes (up to 190/100) did slowly resolve. Incidentally, my experience with Emerg in Canada is that they are badly overcrowded and can be very uncomfortable, but eventually one does get decent and compassionate attention.

    All this has now gone, and I am now doing well with my alternating mix of Artesunate and Stem-Kine--feeling optimistic again. Sorry I cannot be more specific, but I thought I should report what happened, even if I could not fully explain it. Artesunate may not have been responsible, but the timing suggested it was involved, though it is also true that I always seem to get worse some time in the late winter, and then better as spring springs (slowly up here). I was taking lots of Vit D, and since Stem-Kine includes 1,000 IU per capsule, I have reduced my other intake accordingly.

    Best, Chris
  12. Cloud

    Cloud Guest

    Great information in this thread. I have been on Monolaurin (which has low does Inosine in this particular blend), and it has some definite effects, although I can't give a clear report on that yet. It belongs in another thread anyhow. But, I have been wanting to try both Oxymatrine and Artesunate. I can only purchase one at a time each monthly payday, and have debated about which to start with. According to the indications on both products, I should benefit from either of them, and so I have been gathering info on which to do first. The Artesunate sounds best for the xmrv, but the oxymatrine sounds best for enteroviruses and other encapsulated viruses. Potential for toxicity considered and ease of ordering tips the scales to trying Oxymatrine first. But, I do appreciate all the info here on Artesunate to help me with further decisions. I'll be glad to share my experience as well.
  13. aquariusgirl

    aquariusgirl Senior Member

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    Wot Cloud said. I greatly appreciate your reports Chris, with or without confirmation from testing.
    We all do the best we can on that front, but it's not easy. I was just pressing for more details if they were available.
    This txt sounds intriguing. I wish we could get running antelope, a cheney patient who posts on PH, to come over here, because he is the only person who I have seen report positive results with artesunate.
    thanks
  14. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Thanks! If you can persuade running antelope, it would be great to have another user reporting and exchanging views. Remember that Cheney has reported good results, and most impressively a reduction in diastolic dysfunction, which I interpret as meaning a reduction in the viral load that was responsible for the dysfunction via damage to the mitos. That may be a false interpretation, but how else could this come about? Let's hope, anyway. Best, Chris
  15. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    Hi Chris and all,

    I am trying Artunsate as well (not a Cheney patient) and have also tried Olive leaf in the past.

    The OL gave me severe gut problems and I avoid it now. A very painful stomach, increasing bloating, increased alternating constipation/diarrhea.

    I've been OK on Artunsate so far (touch wood) apart from an increase in "flu symptoms" at the start and then a weird hormonal problem that I posted about earlier.

    xmrv+
  16. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Hi, ukxmrv, thanks for joining in! Hope we all do well. And thanks for the info on your response to Olive leaf--it is just possible that that was the root of my problems, and not Artesunate--I did take a bit of Olive leaf but irregularly, and unfortunately did not keep notes as I did for Artesunate, so cannot go back and try to correlate. A good reminder not to underestimate the potency of some of these supplements ! Best, Chris
  17. Hysterical Woman

    Hysterical Woman Senior Member

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    Hi ukxmrv,

    I have problems taking the olive leaf extract, but I did find that I can tolerate just the plain olive leaf capsules since it is in "weaker" form. It's something you might to consider if you ever want to experiment with the olive leaf again - altho it sounds like your symptoms were varied enough that you probably won't. I quit taking olive leaf when I started the artesunate/inosine combo.

    Good Luck,

    Hysterical
  18. Hysterical Woman

    Hysterical Woman Senior Member

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    Hi Chris and all,

    Yes, the potency of some of these supplements can be quite strong.

    I have not decided whether I am going to try the artesunate again or not. After several weeks of gut problems my doc finally ordered me off to the emergency room for a CAT scan. I think he believed I had diverticulitis, but the scan did not show that. The emergency room docs finally came in with a dx of IBS and gave me the "are you under a lot of stress" lecture. I started to tell them that I could be under a lot of stress since I have been ill for 19 years with basically no help from the medical system and didn't have enough money to live off of, but I didn't.

    So they sent me off with a rx from bentyl and zofran. The zofran was too expensive to have filled, but I have been taking the bentyl albeit at 1/4 the dosage. It has definitely helped the gut pain and uncomfort. I am hoping that I won't have to stay on it long term - we'll see. The herbalist/RN at a local health food store believes that I took the artesunate too long and should have taken breaks from it and done some "building" with holy basil and ashwaghanda.

    In any case, I dropped the artesunate/inosine/magnesium protocol I was on and took nothing but the bentyl. The bentyl makes me groggy and has caused some taste disturbances, but I am happy to have relief from the pain. I have been able to start taking low doses of magnesium again thank goodness. I plan on starting back with the inosine in the future, but not sure about the artesunate. While I was taking the artesunate/inosine combo in the past I did have more energy, plus my lymph glands were not as swollen/sore as before.

    In the meantime, I have also started drinking the Iceland Springs water that Cheney recommends - been doing it for a week or so - alternating it with Fiji. I am feeling somewhat better but don't know if I can attribute that to the water? Gut healing some?? Spring?

    Take care,

    Hysterical
  19. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

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    Just wondering how folks were getting on with the Artesunate, I am just about to start on it @ 4 x 20mgs a day courtesy of a GP here in the UK. it is a lot less than the dose Cheney prescribes.
  20. Chris

    Chris Senior Member

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    Hi, Maryb--I think you are taking a lot more than Cheney prescribes, and maybe should reconsider the dose; he currently uses, I believe, 50 mg three times a week--M, W, F, with swish and spit of wormwood on Tues, Thurs, and Sat; that adds to 150 mg Artesunate per week. If you take 80 per day, you are taking 560 per week. Check back into this thread and you will find some info on possible side effects and there are essasy in the Research Library by Efferth that you should look at. But be cautious--there can be long term side effects from this stuff. Best, Chris

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