U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Detecting the antimalarial artemisinin in plant extracts using near-infrared spectroscopy

Dowell, Floyd E., Wang, Donghai, Wu, Xiaorong, Dowell, Kayla M.
American Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology 2014 v.2 no.1 pp. 1-7
Artemisia annua, artemisinin, near-infrared spectroscopy, plant extracts
The antimalarial artemisinin is produced by Artemisia annua L and can be used to kill the protozoan parasite Plasmodium, which is spread by mosquitoes. Artemisinin is extracted from these plants through tea preparation. The artemisinin content of the tea varies depending on how much artemisinin was extracted. There is currently no rapid means of measuring the artemisinin content of the tea. We studied the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect artemisinin in tea extracts. NIR spectra were measured in 2mm pathlengh transmitted cuvettes. Our results showed that NIRS can be used to rapidly predict the artemisinin content (R2 = 0.84, SECV=3.4 ppm), and the scanning procedure is simple and quick. Hundreds of samples can be prepared and scanned per day with relatively little training, and the process requires no consumables. This rapid and simple technique could be used in medical clinics to determine whether tea being prepared for patients contains enough artemisinin to be effective.