New Evidence for Artemisia absinthium as an Alternative to Classical Antibiotics: Chemical Analysis of Phenolic Compounds, Screening for Antimicrobial Activity

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jul 27;24(15):12044. doi: 10.3390/ijms241512044.


Artemisia absinthium, an important herb of the Artemisia genus, was evaluated in this study for its potential as an alternative to classical antibiotics. The antimicrobial activity of methanol extracts of A. absinthium (MEAA) was evaluated using the broth microdilution method, revealing that A. absinthium exhibited broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal activity. Ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole-time of flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-Q-TOF-MS) was used to analyze the chemical profile of the MEAA, with a focus on flavonoids, quinic acids, and glucaric acids. A total of 90 compounds were identified, 69 of which were described for the first time in A. absinthium. Additionally, a new class of caffeoyl methyl glucaric acids was identified. The main active compounds were quantified and screened for antimicrobial activity. A. absinthium was found to be rich in quinic acids and flavonoids. The screening for antimicrobial activity also revealed that salicylic acid, caffeic acid, casticin, and 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid had varying degrees of antimicrobial activity. The acute toxicity of MEAA was examined following OECD guidelines. The administration of 5000 mg/kg bw of MEAA did not result in mortality in male and female mice. Furthermore, there were no observed effects on the visceral organs or general behavior of the mice, demonstrating the good safety of MEAA. This study provides new evidence for the use of A. absinthium as an alternative to classical antibiotics in addressing the problem of bacterial resistance.

Keywords: Artemisia absinthium; antimicrobial activity; bacterial resistance; compound identification.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Artemisia absinthium* / chemistry
  • Artemisia* / chemistry
  • Female
  • Flavonoids
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Flavonoids