The genus Artemisia, which comprises about 400 species, belongs to the Asteraceae family and is the largest of the flowering plants. Most representatives are aromatic herbs or shrubs. They are mainly found in the northern hemisphere. Several Artemisia species have been or are used medicinally and hence are of more or less commercial value. In Western herbal medicine they include, among others, Artemisia abrotanum L., Artemisia absinthium L., Artemisia cina Berg, Artemisia dracunculus L., Artemisia maritima L., Artemisia pontica L. and Artemisia vulgaris L. (Frohne and Jensen 1992, Evans 1996). In traditional Chinese herbal medicine the following Artemisia species are used: Artemisia annua L., Artemisia argyi Levi, et Vant., Artemisia scoparia Waldst. et Kit. and Artemisia capillaris Thunb. (Tang and Eisenbrand 1992). In addition, Artemisia annua L. is a source of artemisinin, which is the mother compound of a novel class of antimalarial drugs (Woerdenbag et al., 1990, 1994a).
Analytical aspects and other criteria for quality control of the above mentioned Artemisia species are the subject of this chapter. Procedures to assay secondary metabolites which are characteristic for a given species, as described in the literature, are presented and discussed.
Despite the rather broad medicinal use of Artemisia species, only few of them are official and have a monograph included in one or more pharmacopoeias. Pharmacopoeial aspects for the crude drug generally include a definition, and macroscopical and microscopical description of the crude drug, identity and purity reactions, and an assay for a quantitative determination. Demands for non official Artemisia species as presented in this chapter, have been adopted from several textbooks. In addition, several general (pharmacopoeial) procedures described for a given species may be used for other, non official, species as well. They include the determination of the essential oil content and its composition, determination of the ash, bitter value and storage conditions. Before the state of the art of various
Artemisia species is discussed separately, generally applicable procedures are described first.
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