Artemisia warning

Young pregnant women standing in row

The TGA is warning consumers and health professionals that listed medicines containing herbal ingredients from the Artemisia species may pose a risk during pregnancy

Artemisia species have been traditionally used for a variety of conditions, many of which relate to the gastrointestinal system and certain infections.

Several Artemisia species are permitted for use in listed medicines in Australia, and these medicines are available from a range of suppliers including through health food stores and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners. 

“Artemisinin is a chemical found in many Artemisia species and is present at relatively high levels in Artemisia annua, a species that is currently permitted for use in listed medicines,” says the TGA.

“Compounds related to artemisinin are used in some prescription medicines. These prescription medicines are not recommended for use in pregnant women, particularly during the first three months of pregnancy.

“The TGA is aware of evidence that indicates the use of Artemisia species in listed medicines may also be unsafe during pregnancy.”

Extracts from Artemisia annua have been shown to harm the developing embryo in animals, the TGA notes.

“These types of studies are used to identify risks for medicines used during pregnancy in humans. Studies of artemisinin and related compounds have also shown the potential for both pregnancy loss (miscarriage) and developmental abnormalities in animals.

“In light of this, the TGA is advising that medicines which contain Artemisia ingredients should not be taken by women who are pregnant, think they may be pregnant, or intend to become pregnant.”

The TGA says that it is currently further investigating the issue, and will consider the level of risk associated with different Artemisia species.

“The TGA anticipates that new requirements will be introduced to warn consumers of the potential risk during pregnancy,” it says.

“The TGA is aware that some products containing Artemisia species already advise consumers to not take these products during pregnancy.

“To date, the TGA has not received any adverse event reports related to the use of listed medicines containing Artemisia species during pregnancy.”

Health professionals are being encouraged to ask patients who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy about their use of complementary medicines, and advise them not to take products containing Artemisia species.

The following Artemisia species are currently permitted for use in listed medicines in Australia and will be considered in the TGA investigation:

Artemisia species currently included in listed medicinesOther Artemisia species permitted for use in listed medicines

Artemisia absinthium (also known as Absinth, Absinth sagewort, Wormwood)

Artemisia abrotanum (also known as Southern wood)

Artemisia annua (also known as Chinese wormwood, Annual wormwood, Sweet wormwood, Sweet Annie, Quinghao)

Artemisia arborescens (also known as Mediterranean Artemisia, Artemisia tree)

Artemisia argyi (Aiye, Argy wormwood leaf, Chinese Artemsia, Chinese mugwort)

Artemisia dracunculus (also known as Estragon, French Tarragon, Tarragon)

Artemisia frigida (also known as Fringed sagebrush, Prairie sagewort, Wormwood-sage, North American Artemisia, Siberian artemsia)

Artemisia maritima (also known as Sea wormwood)

Artemisia herba-alba (also known as Sheih, North African Artemisia)

Artemisia pallens (also known as Davana)

Artemisia vulgaris (also known as Mugwort)

Artemisia tridentata (also known as Sagebrush)


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