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Chinese Mugwort

Scientific Name(s): Artemisia argyi Levl. et Vant.
Common Name(s): Chinese mugwort

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 1, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Chinese mugwort has been used for various conditions in traditional Chinese medicine, including in the practice of moxibustion. Studies (primarily animal and in vitro) have been conducted to evaluate potential antifatigue, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, cardiovascular, antidiabetic, immune system, and insecticidal effects of A. argyi; however, clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


Chinese mugwort is available commercially in the United States and Europe, but clinical data are lacking to provide dosing recommendations.


Avoid use in the case of hypersensitivity to any Chinese mugwort component. No absolute contraindications have been documented.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


The flavones eupatilin and jaceosidin may potently inhibit drugs metabolized by CYP1A2 and CYP2C9.

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited. One study suggests that the proteins in Chinese mugwort may cause severe allergies in hypersensitive individuals.


No data.

Scientific Family


The genus Artemisia consists of approximately 500 species. A. argyi is an herbaceous perennial plant that typically grows 30 to 50 cm in height and has a main or single taproot system. Chinese mugwort is grayish in color with ovate leaves that are 5 to 7 cm in length and 3 to 5 cm in width. The flowers are pale yellow, and the whole plant is strongly aromatic. The plant is native to China and Japan, prefers dry soil, and has a growth cycle from March to October.(Chen 2004, Lee 2006, Lee 2008)


Since ancient times, Chinese mugwort has been used in several applications. The plant is edible and can be used to make pastries, breads, dumplings, and cakes, and can be mixed with rice or processed into tea or wine. It has also been used as an air purifier and mosquito repellent.(Li 2010)

In traditional Chinese medicine, the leaf has been used to treat asthma, malaria, hepatitis, and inflammation, as well as fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.(Zheng 2004) The leaves have also been used to treat tuberculosis, menstrual symptoms, and eczema, and are chewed to relieve cough.(Lan 2010b, Samuel 2010) Chinese mugwort is used in the traditional Chinese medicine therapy moxibustion to help heat the area being treated in acupuncture.(Adams 2010, Li 2010)


Extensive chemical studies of Artemisia species, including Chinese mugwort, document many compounds, including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, triterpenes, and flavones.(Ehrman 2007, Kim 2002, Lee 2002, Li 2008, Pan 1992) More than 200 components have been detected in A. argyi essential oil, including terpenoids, ketones (aldehydes), alcohols (phenols), acids (esters), and alkyl (olefins) hydrocarbons.(Liu 2021) The chemical constituents in the essential oil are ether (23.66%), alcohols (16.72%), sesquiterpenes (15.21%), esters (11.78%), monoterpenes (11.63%), ketones (6.09%), and aromatic compounds (5.01%).(Huang 2012)

Phytochemical databases of Chinese herbal constituents document approximately 106 bioactive compounds found in Chinese mugwort.(Ehrman 2007) The lactone artemisolide, isolated from the aerial parts of the plant, exhibits antitumor activity.(Kim 2002) Artemisolides B, C, and D have been isolated and exhibit similar antitumor activity.(Lee 2002)

Chemical analysis of Chinese mugwort revealed 53 volatile constituents in the flowers, as well as 36 essential oil components in the leaves. Analysis of chemical seasonality showed that October was the best time to collect Chinese mugwort leaves.(Li 2008, Pan 1992, Zheng 2004)

Eupatilin is a pharmacologically active flavone found in Chinese mugwort. A synthetic analog of eupatilin is being evaluated in various trials for treating dry eye and gastritis.(Mishra 2011)

Uses and Pharmacology

Antifatigue effects

Animal data

A swimming test was conducted in mice administered essential oil from A. argyi for 30 days. Results showed reduced lactic acid in the blood as well as increased elimination of lactic acid. Decreased consumption of glycogen and increased levels of urea nitrogen in the serum were also observed.(Han 2005)

Antifungal activity

In vitro data

Essential oil extracted from Chinese mugwort showed antifungal activity against 2 common storage pathogens of fruits and vegetables, Botrytis cinerea and Alternaria alternata.(Wenqiang 2006) An ethyl acetate extract of A. argyi at a concentration of 2 mg/mL was highly effective at reducing the spore germination rate of the common cotton fungus Verticillium dahlia, and demonstrated other inhibitory mechanisms.(Wang 2022)

Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal and in vitro data

In in vitro experiments, oil from A. argyi dose dependently suppressed the release of proinflammatory mediators (nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2, and reactive oxygen species) and cytokines (tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, interferon-beta, and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1) in lipopolysaccharide-induced RAW264.7 macrophages. The essential oil of A. argyi suppressed inflammatory responses by inhibiting Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription activation.(Chen 2017) A. argyi protected ethanol-induced rats from gastric mucosal injury by inhibiting inflammatory responses and ameliorating oxidative stress. The investigators suggested that A. argyi may be suitable as a dietary supplement for individuals with gastric mucosal injuries or unhealthy dietary habits.(Li 2018) In in vitro experiments, sesquiterpenoids from A. argyi show selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitory activity.(Zhang 2019) Artemargyinolide E, a new sesquiterpene lactone from A. argyi, inhibits inflammatory responses by downregulating the nuclear factor kappa B signaling pathway.(Zhang 2020) In an induced colitis mouse model, an ethanolic extract of A. argyi decreased inflammatory markers and reduced symptoms.(Shin 2022) Many diseases (ie, type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, gout) have been associated with the dysfunction and/or activation of the NLRP3 inflammasone, a complex shown to be inhibited in vitro by the essential oil of A. argyi.(Chen 2021)

Antimicrobial activity

Animal and in vitro data

In vitro, A. argyi essential oil showed antimicrobial activities against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The minimum inhibitory concentrations of the essential oil against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella typhimurium were 16 mcg/mL, 16 mcg/mL, 32 mcg/mL, 32 mcg/mL, 32 mcg/mL, 64 mcg/mL, and 32 mcg/mL, respectively. Results indicated that the cytomembrane might be the target of the essential oil.(Xiang 2018) Increased permeability of S. aureus cell walls was a confirmed mechanism for chloroform fraction of an aqueous A. argyi extract.(Zhang 2022)

In vitro and in vivo assessments of A. argyi fermented with Lactobacillus plantarum WLPL01 suggest that A. argyi could possibly be used as an alternative anti-Salmonella agent.(Tao 2021)

Antioxidant activity

In vitro data

In vitro tests on A. argyi leaf polysaccharides showed strong free radical scavenging activity.(Lan 2010b, Liao 2008) Cytotoxic action involving antioxidant enzymes has been documented in a leukemia cell line.(Jung 2002)


Animal and in vitro data

Growth inhibitory activity of leaf aqueous extracts has been documented against a variety of human cancer cell lines, including in breast, lung, pancreas, and prostate tissues.(Shoemaker 2005) Cytotoxic action involving antioxidant enzymes has been documented in a leukemia cell line.(Jung 2002) Apoptotic death of mouse thymocytes was suppressed by a polysaccharide leaf extract that may modulate gene expression.(Chung 2003) A leaf extract showed some inhibitory activity against a neuroblastoma cell line.(Mazzio 2009)

In a study conducted in human tumor cells and a mouse xenograft model, arteminolides isolated from the aerial parts of Chinese mugwort inhibited, in a dose-dependent manner, growth of human colon adenocarcinoma and human lung tumor cells, with no loss in body weight in mice.(Lee 2003) An ethyl acetate leaf extract containing the coumarin flavones scopoletin and isoscopoletin inhibited leukemia cell growth in a cell proliferation assay.(Adams 2006, McGovern 2010) Additionally, the 2 substances also inhibited growth of a multidrug-resistant leukemia cell subline.(Adams 2006)

Jaceosidin, a flavone in several Artemisia species, induced apoptosis in a human ovary adenocarcinoma cell line by activating the mitochondrial pathway.(Lv 2008) Apoptosis was also induced in human breast epithelial cells by generating free radicals or reactive oxygen species.(Kim 2007) Jaceosidin inhibited COX-2 and matrix metalloproteinases in cultured human mammary epithelial cells; elevated levels of COX-2 and matrix metalloproteinases are found in numerous cancerous and transformed cells.(Jeong 2007) Interactions between E6 and E7 oncoproteins of the human papillomavirus and tumor suppressors (p53 and pRb), as well as growth of human papillomavirus–harboring cervical cancer cells, were also inhibited by jaceosidin.(Chung 2003, Lee 2005) This inhibitory activity may be associated with the recovery of p53 and pRb tumor suppressors. Additional studies document similar anticancer activity of other isolated flavones. Some inhibition of the flavones is associated with farnesyl protein transferase interference. Oncogenic activity is abolished if farnesyl protein transferase activity is blocked.(Nakasugi 2000, Seo 2003)

In in vitro studies, artemisianins A through D from A. argyi induced apoptosis via enhancement of endoplasmic reticulum stress.(Xue 2019) A sesquiterpene lactone from A. argyi induced gastric carcinoma cell apoptosis via activating the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase/reactive oxygen species/mitochondrial pathway.(Zhang 2018)

Cardiovascular effects

In vitro data

Although details are limited, one study evaluating effective A. argyi chemical constituents noted that 2 chemical constituents (beta-sitosterol and eupatilin) inhibited platelet aggregation.(Zhong 1992) Two new flavonoids from A. argyi were evaluated in vitro for anticoagulation activities. One compound significantly extended thrombin time, while the other increased prothrombin time.(Lv 2018)


Animal and in vitro data

Four triterpene compounds from A. argyi showed alpha-glucosidase activity in vitro.(Zhang 2020) In a rat model of alloxan-induced diabetes, decreases in alloxan-induced increases in fasting blood sugar and glycosylated hemoglobin were observed with oral administration of an aqueous A. argyi extract at a dose of 200 mg/kg, but not at 100 mg/kg. Insulin levels were also increased compared with a diabetic control.(Wu 2020)

Immune system effects

Animal data

Jaceosidin inhibited T-cell–mediated contact dermatitis in mice by blocking activation of T lymphocytes, leading to reduced swelling and inflammation.(Yin 2011)

Insecticidal effects

In vitro data

An investigation into the insecticidal and repellent effects of cultivated A. argyi from 7 Chinese provinces showed slightly differing efficacies of the essential oils. For all the essential oils, however, larvicidal activity was significantly effective against Anopheles sinensis, the mosquito vector for malaria; the Gansu province oil repellency was equivalent to 10% DEET.(Luo 2022) Mugwort volatile oil obtained via a CO2 extraction method from Artemisia species killed 2 human parasitic mites, Demodex brevis and Demodex folliculorum; the minimum effective concentration was 3.125% for killing D. brevis and 6.25% for killing D. folliculorum, with a greater killing effect on D. brevis.(Du 2021)

Version of fetal breech position

Clinical data

Some studies have demonstrated that moxibustion (eg, using A. argyi) may promote cephalic version of breech presentation and may facilitate external cephalic version.(Schlaeger 2018)


Chinese mugwort is available commercially in the United States and Europe, but clinical data are lacking to provide dosing recommendations. Most products are available in powder and oil forms and are used for promoting cardiovascular health as well as for treating asthma or cough.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


Based on in vitro data, the flavones eupatilin and jaceosidin may potently inhibit drugs metabolized by CYP1A2 (eg, several antidepressants and antipsychotics, some antibiotic medications) and CYP2C9 (numerous analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antiepileptic, statin, antidiabetic, anticoagulant, anticancer, antifungal, and antibacterial medications).(Ji 2010)

Adverse Reactions

Information is limited. One study suggests that the proteins in Chinese mugwort may cause severe allergies in hypersensitive individuals.(Yang 2005) A case report documents contact dermatitis resulting from use of A. argyi for moxibustion.(Xie 2021)


Information is limited. No toxicity was documented on development of forelimb buds and skeletal structure of embryonic mice administered the volatile oil from Chinese mugwort in utero.(Lan 2010a) However, incidences of hepatoxicity in mice from A. argyi essential oil have been recorded.(Liu 2021)



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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