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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 159819, 7 pages
Review Article

Essential Oil of Artemisia annua L.: An Extraordinary Component with Numerous Antimicrobial Properties

1Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Via Ugo Schiff 6, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, Italy
2Department of Health Sciences, University of Florence, Viale G.B. Morgagni 48, 50134 Florence, Italy

Received 16 January 2014; Accepted 28 February 2014; Published 1 April 2014

Academic Editor: William Setzer

Copyright © 2014 Anna Rita Bilia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Artemisia annua L. (Asteraceae) is native to China, now naturalised in many other countries, well known as the source of the unique sesquiterpene endoperoxide lactone artemisinin, and used in the treatment of the chloroquine-resistant and cerebral malaria. The essential oil is rich in mono- and sesquiterpenes and represents a by-product with medicinal properties. Besides significant variations in its percentage and composition have been reported (major constituents can be camphor (up to 48%), germacrene D (up to 18.9%), artemisia ketone (up to 68%), and 1,8 cineole (up to 51.5%)), the oil has been subjected to numerous studies supporting exciting antibacterial and antifungal activities. Both gram-positive bacteria (Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, and Listeria spp.), and gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia, Shigella, Salmonella, Haemophilus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas spp.) and other microorganisms (Candida, Saccharomyces, and Aspergillus spp.) have been investigated. However, the experimental studies performed to date used different methods and diverse microorganisms; as a consequence, a comparative analysis on a quantitative basis is very difficult. The aim of this review is to sum up data on antimicrobial activity of A. annua essential oil and its major components to facilitate future approach of microbiological studies in this field.