Qing Hao (Sweet Wormwood or Artemisia Annua)

What Is Qing Hao

Qing Hao is also known as Sweet Wormwood, Sweet Sagewort, Sweet Annie, Annual Wormwood, or Artemisia annua, which is an annual short-day herb belonging to the family Asteraceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (around 100 BCE).

Artemisia annua likes a sunny and humid environment and often grows in grasslands, wasteland, hillsides, or forest edges. It is widely distributed in temperate, cold temperate, and subtropical regions of Europe and Asia. A small part of it is distributed in some parts of North America.

This plant is often used as animal feed and as a food spice. It is also the main raw material of the anti-malaria drug artemisinin. In 1972, Chinese scientist Tu Youyou and her team extracted a colorless crystal with the molecular formula C15H22O5 from Artemisia annua. They named this colorless crystalline substance artemisinin.

Artemisia annua

Artemisinin and its derivatives can effectively reduce the mortality of malaria patients. In October 2015, Tu Youyou won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contribution to the creation of new antimalarial drugs-artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin.

With the deepening of research in recent years, other effects of artemisinin have also been discovered, such as anti-tumor, anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and immune regulation.

When the flowers of Artemisia annua are blooming in autumn, people gather their above-ground parts, remove old stems and impurities, use them directly, or cut them into segments, dry them in the shade, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Qing Hao contains artemisine, arteannuin A, arteannuin B, deoxyartemisinin, 9-epi-artemisine, artemisitene, dihydroartemisinic acid, artemisinic acid, dihydroarteannuin B, 1β -hydroxy-4(15),5-eudesmadiene, 1β-hydroxy-4(15),7-eudesmadiene, 4(15)-eudesmene-1β,6α-diol, 5α-hydroperoxy-eudesma-4(15),11-diene, α-epoxy-dihydroartemisinic acid, α- Epoxy-arteannuic acid, norannuic acid formyl ester, 3α,15-dihydroxy cedrane, artemisinin G, deoxyarteannuin B, dihydro-deoxyarteannuin B, epi-deoxyarteannuin B, dihydro-epi-deoxyarteannuin B, isoannulide, annulide, artemisinin K, Artemisinin L, artemisinin M, artemisinin O, arteannoide A-E, fartemisilactone, norannuic acid, diterpenoids, flavonoids, phenyl propionic acid compounds, coumarins, volatile oils.

Its volatile oils components are artemisia ketone, camphor, 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, borneol, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, myrcene, limonene, β-pinene, camphene, and β-caryophyllene.

Generally, Qing Hao with dark green or brownish-green leaves and yellow-green or brownish-yellow stems is preferred.

According to <Compendium of Materia Medica>, the medicinal nature of Qing Hao is relatively cool, with a bitter and pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the liver and gallbladder meridians.

The medicinal properties of Qing Hao are similar to that of Artemisia japonica, but the latter has no effect on malaria treatment.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Qing Hao is often used to clear asthenic fever, cool blood and eliminate hot flashes, relieve summer-heat and stop malaria, treat colds, flu, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, nose bleeding, dengue fever, lupus erythematosus, neurodermatitis, schistosomiasis japonicum disease, and acute jaundice hepatitis.

There are about 30 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang, Qing Gu San, and Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang.


  • Anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation, and anti-fungus.
  • Inhibiting influenza virus, herpes virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus.
  • Promoting bile secretion and having antipyretic and analgesic effects.
  • Inhibiting steatosis and improving alcoholic liver damage.
  • Improving hepatic fibrosis induced by bile duct ligation and attenuating collagen deposition in rat liver.
  • Slowing heart rate, inhibiting myocardial contractility, reducing coronary flow, and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improving the lymphocyte transformation rate, enhancing the phagocytic ability of macrophages, and promoting cellular immunity.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of T lymphocytes induced by Concanavalin A, down-regulating cellular immune response, and suppressing immunity.
  • Blocking the nutritional absorption of Plasmodium, increasing the intracytoplasmic calcium concentration of Plasmodium, and killing Plasmodium.
  • Inhibiting the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in diabetic retinopathy and treating diabetic retinopathy.
  • Alleviating symptoms in the later stage of warm diseases, such as fever at night without sweating and persistent low fever.
  • Clearing asthenic fever, treating dysphoria with feverish sensation in the chest, hot flashes, night sweats, red tongue with little coating, and fever due to yin deficiency.
  • Relieving summer-heat, treating dizziness, headache, fever, and thirst caused by summer-heat.
  • Clearing heat and dampness, treating eczema, urticaria, and jaundice caused by damp-heat.
  • Draining dampness and resolving phlegm, treating alternating chills and fever, bitter taste in mouth, chest stuffiness with emesis caused by damp-heat stagnation of Shaoyang and Sanjiao.
  • Inducing apoptosis of prostate cancer PC-3 cells, human colon cancer drug-resistant cells, adenocarcinoma GLC-82 cells, pancreatic cancer JF305 cells, breast cancer MT40 cells, and HepG2 cells.
  • Inhibiting Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus, Candida albicans, and Leptospira.
    Studies have found that artesunate can improve the learning and memory ability of Alzheimer’s disease model rats.


Side Effects

  • Qing Hao is low-toxic and has few side effects.
  • Individual patients taking it may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
  • Its injection may cause allergic reactions.
  • It contains sodium artesunate, which has embryonic toxicity. Taking it during pregnancy may cause embryonic bone marrow development retardation.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Qing Hao should be controlled at 6-12g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or injections.
  • When using fresh Qing Hao, the dosage should be doubled.
  • People who are allergic to Qing Hao should not take it.
  • Patients with weakness of the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • Patients with cold diarrhea should not take it.
  • Patients with indigestion or diarrhea should not take it.
  • Women with postpartum blood deficiency or pregnant women should not take it.
  • The main components in Qing Hao are volatile oils and sesquiterpenoids. Boiling it for a long time will cause its active ingredients to volatilize and reduce the efficacy of the medicine. Therefore, you should add Qing Hao for decocting 5 to 10 minutes before the fire ceases.