Artemisia annua and Artemisia afra Essential Oils and Their Therapeutic Potential

  • Matthew R. Desrosiers
  • Melissa J. Towler
  • Pamela J. WeathersEmail author


Known for its production of the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, Artemisia annua L. contains a plethora of other phytochemicals and is a rich source of essential oils. Oil content and compositions vary considerably among cultivars, change throughout plant development, and vary with the geographic region. Many of the oils have antimicrobial activity and repel insects. Although numerous oil constituents have therapeutic properties, the response varies with mode of oil delivery to the patient, affecting both bioavailability of other compounds and their therapeutic efficacy. Depending on type and concentration, some oil constituents are also toxic to livestock and humans. Here, the essential oil contents of mainly A. annua, but also its close cousin, A. afra, which also has antimalarial capability, are discussed in relation to variations in the plant and eventual cost-effective use for a number of different therapeutic purposes including for treatment of many parasitic and microbial diseases, some viral diseases, and a variety of cancers.


1,8-cineole Artemisinin Borneol Camphor Eucalyptol Malaria Pinene Thujone 



Artemisinin combination therapy


Essential oil



We are grateful for award Number NIH-2R15AT008277-02 from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health that enabled MJT and PJW to provide phytochemical analyses of the plant and essential oil samples. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health or the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew R. Desrosiers
    • 1
  • Melissa J. Towler
    • 1
  • Pamela J. Weathers
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biology and BiotechnologyWorcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcesterUSA

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