WORCESTER, Mass. - A group of researchers, including a professor from Worcester Polytechnic Insittute (WPI), say early research finds extracts from an ancient herb can inhibit the COVID-19 Virus.

WPI Biology Professor Pamela Weathers says Artemisia Annua, also known as sweet wormwood, has been recognized as a medicinal plant for more than 2,000 years. It’s been used in teas to treat infectious diseases, including malaria. 

The researchers soaked dried leaves of the plant from four different continents and tested the solutions against SARS-COV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, and the variants first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Results showed the extracts from plant did not block the virus from entering cells, but stopped the virus' ability to replicate and killed it. 

Prof. Weathers says this wouldn’t replace vaccines, but it could be a therapy if you get infected.

"It's very important right now, because we don't have therapies and this looks like it could be a therapy and very easy to implement globally to help us get a control on this horrible viral pandemic as you see it ravaging India. Well, this is a country that actually grows Artemisia and could use it to help treat their patient as they're running out of things," Weather said. "I don't know if it would treat patients with really severe SARS, but one would hope that, that could at least minimize the number of tragic and very serious cases."

She says this is a safe plant to use, there are no real side effects, and there is currently a small human trial in progress.