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

Mukinda, J.T., Syce, J.A.
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2007 v.112 no.1 pp. 138-144
Artemisia, medicinal plants, chemical constituents of plants, plant extracts, medicinal properties, bioassays, rats, mice, toxicity, dose response, hepatoprotective effect, traditional medicine, herbal medicines, ethnobotany, 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 (1.5-5.5 g/kg) induced a regular dose-dependent increase in the death rate and incidence of general behaviour adverse effects, while with single oral doses (2-24 g/kg) the increases in incidence of general behaviour adverse effects and mortality rate were dose-independent. The LD50s after acute intraperitoneal and oral doses were 2.45 and 8.96 g/kg, respectively. Rats given oral doses of Artemisia afra-extract (0.1 or 1 g/kg/day) survived the 3 months of dosing (i.e. LD50 much higher than 1 g/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.