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Two Species of Artemisia

Over the years, Dr. Setzer has studied many plants and written several publications on the Artemisia genus. One of his earlier studies analyzes the chemical components of Aremisia abyssinica from Yemen. Later, he also published a study on Artemisia absinthium from Tajikistan and its composition.


Artemisia abyssinica


Artemisia abyssinica, known as “boitheran” in Yemen, is an aromatic, grey, silky-hairy plant with pale yellow flower-heads and is well known as a stimulant and an analgesic (pain relief). It is short lived perennial plant widely spread on the high plateau from 2200 to 3600 m and often abundant on roadsides, alluvial plains and abandoned fields. t is used in Yemen for treating headache and as insect repellent. In Saudi Arabia, the decoction of fresh whole plant is traditionally used to treat diabetes mellitus. The plant has also been used in folk medicine as an anthelmintic, antispasmodic, antirheumatic and antibacterial agent. In this report, we present the essential oil compositions for A. abyssinica from three different regions of Yemen, namely Taiz (higher than 1500 m), Sana’a (higher than 3000 m) and Alhodiadah (coastal region).


A total of 26 compounds were identified in the essential oils of A. abyssinica from Yemen, accounting for about 99% of the compositions. A. abyssinica essential oils were rich in camphor and davanone with lesser amounts of (E)-nerolidol, cis-sabinene hydrate, terpinen-4-ol, linalool, and bornyl acetate. The A. abyssinica oils from Yemen are remarkably different in composition from those reported from different samples from Ethiopia. Clearly there is wide variation in the volatile components of A. abyssinica, which can be attributed to (a) individual genetic variability, (b) variation among different plant parts and developmental stages, or (c) variation due to environmental conditions.


Artemisia absinthium


Artemisia absinthium, the major component of the notorious drink absinthe, has been extensively studied. The plant has been used as an herbal medicine throughout Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, and at least nine different chemotypes have been recognized based on essential oil compositions. To our knowledge, no previous work on A. absinthium from Tajikistan has been reported, however. Three samples of Artemisia absinthium were collected from two different locations in the central-south of Tajikistan.


A total of 41 compounds were identified representing 72-94% of total oil compositions. The major components of A. absinthium oil were myrcene, cis-chrysanthenyl acetate, a dihydrochamazulene isomer, germacrene D, β-thujone, linalool acetate, α-phellandrene, and linalool. The chemical compositions of A. absinthium from Tajikistan are markedly different from those from European, Middle Eastern, or other Asian locations and likely represent new chemotypes.




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