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J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 May 30;112(1):138-44. Epub 2007 Feb 14.

Acute and chronic toxicity of the aqueous extract of Artemisia afra in rodents.

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Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy and South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute, University of the Western Cape, Private Bag X17, Bellville 7535, South Africa.


Artemisia afra (Jacq. Ex. Willd), "African Wormwood" is widely used traditionally in South Africa with no literature evidence substantiating its safety. The aim of this study was to investigate the safety of the aqueous extract of Artemisia afra by determining its pharmaco-toxicological effects after acute and chronic administration in mice and rats, respectively. The aqueous extract mimicked the traditional decoction dosage form of Artemisia afra. In mice, single intraperitoneal injections of Artemisia afra-extract (1.5-5.5g/kg) induced a regular dose-dependent increase in the death rate and incidence of general behaviour adverse effects, while with single oral doses (2-24g/kg) the increases in incidence of general behaviour adverse effects and mortality rate were dose-independent. The LD(50s) after acute intraperitoneal and oral doses were 2.45 and 8.96g/kg, respectively. Rats given oral doses of Artemisia afra-extract (0.1 or 1g/kg/day) survived the 3 months of dosing (i.e. LD(50) much higher than 1g/kg), experienced no significant changes in general behaviour and haematological and biochemical parameters, except for transient decrease in AST activity. No significant changes were observed in organ weights, and histopathological results showed normal profile suggesting no morphological alterations. Collectively, the results indicate that Artemisia afra-extract is non-toxic when given acutely, has low chronic toxicity potential and, in high doses, may have a hepatoprotective effect.

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