Jaceosidin is a single compound from the Japanese mugwort Artemisia princeps, which is used as a food and a traditional medicinal herb. A. princeps extracts and flavonoid components have been shown to have antihyperglycaemic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Although the anticancer properties of these extracts were recently demonstrated, the related mechanisms have not been characterised. In this study, we investigated the effects of jaceosidin in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells and initially showed selective suppression of proliferation (IC50 = 82.1 μM in HSC-3 cells and 97.5 μM in Ca9.22 cells) and accumulation of cells at the sub-G1 stage of the cell cycle. In addition, jaceosidin increased cleavage of caspase-9 and caspase-3 in OSCC cells, although caspase-8 was not detected. In further experiments, jaceosidin downregulated Akt phosphorylation and ectopic activation of Akt blocked the antiproliferative effects of jaceosidin. Finally, we showed that jaceosidin has no effects on HaCaT normal epithelial cell viability, indicating selective chemotherapeutic potential of jaceosidin and that tumour-specific downregulation of Akt increases apoptosis and inhibits growth in OSCC cells.