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Several studies showed that bacterial compounds (e.g., acyl-homoserine lactone, N(3-oxododecanoyl)-l-homoserine lactone) as well as certain bitter phytochemicals (absinthin from Artemisia annua or wormwood) activate the bitter taste receptor transduction pathway in respiratory tract and leukocytes, leading to an increased production of antimicrobial peptides [256] and nitric oxide (that also has direct bactericidal activity), increased mucociliary clearance in respiratory tract [257], chemotaxis, up-regulation of CD11b expression, and enhanced phagocytosis [82].
The dry leaves and stems contain, among others, 0.25-1.32% essential oil, absinthin, anabsin, artemisinin, anabsinthin, artabsin and matricin (List and Horhammer, 1973; Kordali et al.
By and large the activity of the herb might be attributed to the major compound, camphor and to two other major sesquiterpene lactones, absinthin and artabsin, which are known to occur in the plant (van Wyk and Wink 2004).