Artemisia vulgaris L.

Last updated: 05 July 2017

Scientific Name

Artemisia vulgaris L.


Absinthium spicatum (Wulfen ex Jacq.) Baumg, Artemisia affinis Hassk, Artemisia apetala hort.pest. ex Steud, Artemisia cannabifolia H.Lév. [1]

Vernacular Name

English felon-herb, mugwort, wormwood [2]
China Bei ai [2], ye ai, ye ai hao [3]
Vietnam Ngải cứu, thuốc cứu [3]
Philippines Damong maria, kamaria [3]
Russian Polyn' obyknovennaia [3]
Italy Artemisia, assenzio selvatico [3]
Japan Arutemishia, oushuu yomogi [3]
German Beifuß, echter beifuß, gemeiner beifuß, gewöhnlicher beifuß [3]
Mexico Ajenjo, altamisa si'isim [2]
France Armoise vulgaire [3]
Spain Ajenjo, altamisa si'isim [2]
United States of America Wormwood [2]

Geographical Distributions

Artemisia vulgaris is found throughout most of the world, including North America, South America, Europe and Asia. [4]

Botanical Description

A. vulgaris is a member of the Asteraceae family. It is a perennial herb with creeping underground stolons and fibrous roots. [5]

The stems usually measure about 30-60 cm tall, tufted from the stolon and branched are often whitish and hairy. [5]

The leaves appearing stipulate at the base, lower to middle leaves with blade elliptic in outline, measure 5-11 cm x 3-7.5 cm, pinnately lobed or divided into 2-4 pairs of segments. These toothed or deeply incised or rarely entire, upper side deep green, underside silvery whitish hairy with upper leaves becoming smaller, usually 3-parted or lobed, and lobes entire. [5]

The inflorescence is a terminal panicle of crowded racemes, the heads ca. 0.25 cm long and the florets are brownish. [5]

The fruits are minute achenes. [5]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

The chemical constituent of A. Vulgaris consist of 1-α-terpineol, β-caryophylene, 1-quebrachitol, inulin, oxytocin, yomogi alcohol, ridentin, artemose 1,8-cineole, 3-β-hydroxyurs-12-en-27,28-dionic-acid, 5,3'-dihydroxy-3,7,4'trimethoxyflavone, 7,8-methylenedioxy-9-methoxycoumarin, adenine, α-amyrin, α-amyrin-acetate, α-cadinol, α-pinene, α-thujone, arsenic, artemisiketone, ascorbic-acid, barium, β-cadinol, β-carotene, β-pinene, β-sitosterol, borneol, bromine, cadinene, cadinenol, calcium, cineol, choline, chromium, cis-dehydromatricaria-ester, copper, dihydromatricaria ester, fernenol, gamma-cadinol, heptadeca-1,7,9-triene-11,13,15-triyne, inulin, iodine, iron, lead, linalool, linalyl-acetate, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, muurolol, myrcene, nerol, neryl-acetate, niacin, nickel, paraffin, phellandrene, phosphorus, potassium, protein, quebrachitol, quercetin-3'-glucoside, quercetin-3-rhamnoglucoside, riboflavin, rubidium, spathulenol, stigmasterol, strontium, sulfur, tauremisin, tetracosanol, tetradec-6-en-8,10,12-triyne-1-one, tetradeca-4,6-diene-8,10,12-triyne-1-ol, tetradeca-6-ene-8,10,12-triyne-3-one, thiamin, titanium, thujone, trans-dehydromatricaria-ester, trideca-1,3,5-triene-7,9,11-triyne, vulgarin, vulgarol, vulgarole. [3][6]

Plant Part Used

Root, leaves, flowers, seeds. [3][6][7]

Traditional Use

Gynaecological Diseases

Artemisia as the name implies is basically a plant for women. The leaves of A. vulgaris is used as a menstrual regulator and the Chinese stir fry them with eggs as a remedy for dysmenorrhoea. The leaves are also used to ally perimenopausal symptoms. In western herbal medicine a decoction of the fresh tops in a bath is believed to help correct female irregularities. The native Americans made use of the plant to relieve after-pains of childbirth. It’s emmenagogue actions is recognized both in the east and west making it an essential ingredient in pre and postpartum period. In Norwegian folklore medicine a sprig of the plant is given to strengthen uterine contractions. Amongst the adverse effects of the plant includes violent uterine contractions; labor-like pains; prolapse and rupture of the uterus; miscarriage; metrorrhagia; and increase of lochial discharges. While the Americans attested to these adverse reactions, the Filipino while using the plant to induce abortions did not believe it to be strong in this effects. In Indonesia the leaves have a wider used in women to include disturbances in menstruation i.e. hypermenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, irregular uterine bleeding and amenorrhoea, early bleeding of pregnancy, to calm down hyperactive foetus, to ease delivery and for fertility. It is also used to treat leucorrhoea. [3][7-15]

Gastrointestinal Diseases

A. vulgaris is used in moxibustion treatments at acupuncture points and this is used in the gastrointestinal treatment like abdominal cramps, constipation, diarrhea and vomiting. The leaves have stomachic, carminative and tonic properties. In Indonesia, the flowering plant is used to improve appetite and to treat abdominal colic especially the griping pains of indigestion. [3][9][16][17][18]

Central Nervous System Diseases

The leaves of A. vulgaris is considered a nervine and it used in several central nervous system disorders including psychiatric symptoms like a anxiety, depression, hysteria, hypochondriasis, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, neuroasthenia and neurosis. Organic brain disorders could also benefit from taking the leaves i.e epilepsy. The juice of the leaves is applied to the forehead of children in convulsion. A dharma of the powdered leaves taken four times a day is used to cure chronic hysterical fits [7][8][9]

Other uses

In China, Buddhist monks burns the leaves onto the faces of 3-day old infants in the belief that this ensures their survival through infancy. The Chinese considered it a haemostatic and antiseptic, thus it is used to treat bleeding or infected wounds. In Annam the leaves are used in cases of haemorrhage, epistaxis, haematemesis and haematuria. The leaves are beneficial in a number of skin disorders including eczema, herpes, purulent scabies and measles. In these cases either poultice or the juice of the leaves are applied locally. For inflamed and infected wounds the pounded leaves mixed with ginger are wrapped in banana leaves and heated over fire and applied over the lesion. The leaf poultice is also used to treat headache and rheumatism. [6][10][16]

Preclinical Data


Moxibustion activity

This is a form of acupuncture where A. vulgaris leaves in the form of a stick is ignited at acupuncture points to enhance circulation of the body. One of the uses of this method of acupuncture is to convert breech to cephalic position in pregnancy. There was a study attempted to test the efficacy of this method in non-Chinese population but met with inconclusive results because of treatment interruption. Their patients either were skeptical about the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of the treatment. [19] Another study however, met with success in the treatment obtaining 40.8% spontaneous conversion in their 76 cases and additional 43.4% subsequent external cephalic version. They found that those who engaged help in performing moxibustion were more successful than those who self-treat. The success rate appears to be 16% more in multiparous than in nulliparous. 88% of successful conversions had vaginal delivery while the remaining 12% had caesarean sections [20]. Wheeler et al. [21] looked into the possible health hazard of using moxa treatment but could not find any danger of its use. Recent paper review [22][23] on the use of moxibustion in the treatment of symptoms of cancer and in hypertension. They were not convinced of the efficacy of the treatment based on the paper review and suggested more studies to be done to add on to the evidence of it effectiveness.

Antibacterial activity

There was study on the antimicrobial activities of ethanol, methanol and hexane extracts of three Artemisia species (Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia annua and A. vulgaris) against 5 Gram-positive bacteria, two Gram-negative bacteria and one fungal strain. They were found to have some effects against the tested microorganisms. [24]

Antiviral activity

The essential oil of A. vulgaris showed antiviral activity against Yellow Fever Virus by direct inactivation. [25]

Antispasmodic and bronchodilator activity

Antispasmodic and bronchodilator activities of crude extract of A. vulgaris was done in a study. Analysis of the extract showed the presence of alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, saponins, sterols, tannins and terpenes. The extract could relax spontaneous jejunal contraction; inhibit carbachol induced contraction; produced rightward parallel shift in carbachol curves followed by non-parallel shift at higher doses with suppression of the maximum response; protective effects against carbachol induced bronchoconstriction; relaxed tracheal contractions induced by carbachol; protective effects against castor oil-induced contraction and shift Ca2+ concentration-response curve to the right. These results show that the extract exhibit a combination of anticholinergic and Ca2+ antagonist actions. [26]

Antioxidant activity

Study on the antioxidant activities of several Japanese herbs and found that the essential oil of A. vulgaris exhibit the strongest antioxidant activity. [27] Another study obtained similar effects and attribute it to the presence of polyphenols especially flavonoids and flavonols. [28]

Hyperglycaemic activity

In their study to determine the hypoglycaemic activity of medicinal plants, reports found that A. vulgaris instead of reducing the blood glucose level cause a significant rise in it after administration of the extract. [29]

Antimalarial activity

Study found that A. vulgaris did not have any antimalarial activity when he studied the use of this plants extract as chemoprophylaxis in travelers to West Africa. [30]

Hepatoprotective activity

A crude extract of the aerial parts of A. vulgaris when give in mice prior to induction of liver damage was found to be able to reduce hepatic damaged enzyme markers. Histopathological examination showed improved architecture, absence of parenchyma congestion, decreased cellular swelling and apoptotic cells. [31]

Cytotoxic activity

Study by Hiramatsu et al. found that the aqueous soluble component and essential oil of A. vulgaris had antimutagenicity against Trp-P-1 and Trp-P-2 with Salmonella typhimurium TA98 but weak antimutagenicity against B(a)P. [32]

Xanthin-oxygenase inhibition activity

A. vulgaris extract was amongst those that exhibited strong Xanthine-oxygenase inhibitory activity. [33]


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Side effects

A. vulgaris should be used with caution in diabetic patients as it has been shown to increase blood glucose levels. [34]

Adverse reaction

Adverse reactions include significant uterine stimulant effects, contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, and anaphylaxis. A. vulgaris is contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation, coagulopathies, and gastroesophageal reflux. The pollen is an allergen that contributes to hay fever, with cross-sensitivity to hazelnut, tobacco, honey, or jelly. [9]

One of the primary etiologies of pollinosis, within European countries in particular, is the pollen produced by A. vulgaris. [35][36] The pollen of A. vulgaris is comprised of profilin, calcium-binding proteins and additional substances that appear to contribute to the significant allergenic cross-reactivity observed in pollen-sensitized patients. [35][37] Moreover, the Celery-Mugwort-Spice syndrome has been described in the literature in pollen-sensitized patients. [36] Patients showing an allergic reaction to celery typically present with sensitization to A. vulgaris and spices, indicating an extensive cross-reactivity between members of the Asteraceae and Apiaceae families. [38][36] Cross-reactivity has also been suggested between chamomile, hazelnuts, pistachios, tobacco and mangos. [38][39][40] Additionally, one case study has emerged documenting a reaction believed to be idiosyncratic resulting in the presentation of anaphylaxis in a patient known to have celery-Mugwort-spice syndrome and a sensitization to star anise following therapy with oseltamivir. [41]

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation


Dosage Range

0.2-2.0 g of aerial portions of the plants, dried, with equivalent used in varying preparations and use not to exceed 3 times per day. [3]

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation


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