Artemisia abrotanum L. (Southern Wormwood)-History, Current Knowledge on the Chemistry, Biological Activity, Traditional Use and Possible New Pharmaceutical and Cosmetological Applications

Molecules. 2021 Apr 25;26(9):2503. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092503.


Artemisia abrotanum L. (southern wormwood) is a plant species with an important position in the history of European and Asian medicine. It is a species famous as a medicinal plant in Central Asia, Asia Minor, and in South-East and Central Europe. The raw materials obtained from this species are Abrotani herba and Abrotani folium. In the traditional European medicine, they have been used successfully most of all in liver and biliary tract diseases, in parasitic diseases in children and as antipyretic medication. In the official European medicine, this plant species is recommended by the French Pharmacopoeia for use in homeopathy. In many European countries, it is used traditionally in allopathy. The latest studies on the biological activity of extracts from the aboveground parts of the plant and/or the leaves, and/or the essential oil have provided evidence of other possible applications related to their antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anticancer, and antiallergic properties. The latest studies have also focused on the repellent activity of the essential oil of this species and the possibility to use it in the prevention of diseases in which insects are the vectors. The main substances obtained from the plant that are responsible for this activity are: the essential oil, coumarins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. Some of the latest investigations emphasize the large differences in the composition of the essential oil, determined by the geographical (climatic) origin of the plant. A. abrotanum is recommended by the European Cosmetic Ingredients Database (CosIng) as a source of valuable cosmetic ingredients. Additionally, the leaves of this species possess a well-established position in the food industry. This plant species is also the object of biotechnological studies.

Keywords: Artemisia abrotanum; biological activity; biotechnological studies; chemical composition; position in cosmetology; potential medicinal value; southern wormwood; traditional medicinal use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Artemisia / chemistry*
  • Cosmetics
  • Humans
  • Insect Repellents / chemistry
  • Insect Repellents / therapeutic use
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Cosmetics
  • Insect Repellents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts