|Wormwood Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Artemisia absinthium|
|Origin||Eurasia, northern Africa|
|Shapes||A cypsela without a pappus.|
|Health benefits||Stimulate the digestive system and Kill Worms and Parasites|
Wormwood is a nonnative, long-lived, fragrant, herbaceous perennial plant growing about one and a half meters (four feet) in height. The plant grows naturally on uncultivated, arid ground, on rocky slopes, and at the edge of footpaths and fields. It prefers moderately fertile, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. The plant has taproot occasionally reaching 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter with shallow lateral branches spreading 6 feet in all directions. Stem is straight, growing to 0.8–1.2 meters (2 ft. 7 in–3 ft. 11 in) tall, grooved, branched, and silvery-green colored.
Leaves are spirally arranged, greenish-grey above and white below, covered with silky silvery-white trichomes, and bearing minute oil-producing glands; the basal leaves are up to 25 cm long, bipinnate to tripinnate with long petioles, with the cauline leaves (those on the stem) smaller, 5–10 cm long, less divided, and with short petioles; the uppermost leaves can be both simple and sessile.
Flower & Fruit
Flower is pale yellow, tubular, and clustered in spherical bent-down heads (capitula), which are in turn clustered in leafy and branched panicles. Flowering normally takes place from July to October. Fruit is a cypsela without a pappus. It is grown as an ornamental plant and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe as well as some other alcoholic beverages. Whole plant releases an aromatic odor and has a spicy, bitter taste. Many species of the Artemisia family tend to have medicinal properties.
The wormwood plant was cultivated in the French-Swiss border regions near Pontparlier and Val de Travers, two villages known as the historical “home” of absinthe, but it can now be found across much of North America. Initially recommended as a tonic for a variety of ailments, from headache to dysentery, the use of wormwood extract as a pharmaceutical cure for several different illnesses can be traced as far back as the Egyptian dynasty of 1600 B.C. Today it is fond throughout the world due to its outstanding health benefits.
Health benefits of Wormwood
Apart from being used as an ingredient in absinthe, wormwood has traditionally been used to treat various illnesses including digestive conditions, fevers, and dyspepsia and liver conditions. These days it is becoming more and more popular to treat conditions which include the following:
1. Beats Malaria
Malaria is a severe disease caused by a parasite that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes and attacks human red blood cells. Artemisinin is an extract isolated from the plant wormwood. Artemisinin is an herbal drug that is considered most powerful antimalarial on the market. It’s known for quickly reducing the number of parasites in the blood of patients with malaria. The World Health Organization recommends artemisinin-based combination therapies as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria.(1)
2. Stimulating the digestive system
Wormwood has been used to treat many problems relating to the digestive system. It is used to relieve indigestion and also to encourage better digestion because of its ability to promote the production of bile and support gallbladder and liver health. It is particularly effective when it is combined with another digestive herb like ginger or peppermint.
Wormwood is used to bring down high temperature due to fever. The herb works by inducing sweating in patients suffering from high fever. It also helps in reducing fever that is caused by the actions of intestinal parasites.
4. To Kill Worms and Parasites
Wormwood is quite beneficial to destroy harmful parasites found in the body. It is considered one of the affordable herbal medicines for the people of developing countries who cannot afford high cost of pharmaceuticals. It is capable of destroying numerous parasites including pinworms and roundworms.
According to research wormwood helps to produce an intestinal environment that is deadly to parasites and other dangerous organisms.(2), (3)
5. For Anxiety
Wormwood has mild anti-anxiety effects and many people use it to help overcome the symptoms of stress and anxiety. There is however little scientific research to confirm its use for anxiety so use it cautiously.
6. To Stimulate the Appetite
Wormwood has traditionally been used as a tonic to encourage the appetite which is especially important following about of illness. The recommended amount to help improve your appetite is between 10 and 20 drops of liquid extract mixed into a glass of water and drunk around 15 minutes prior to every meal.
7. For Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common condition which affects the colon and can cause several horrible symptoms including cramping, bloating, abdominal pains, diarrhea and constipation.
Some people succeed in treating many of these symptoms with wormwood either alone or in combination with other herbal remedies. Research also shows that wormwood combined with other herbs was effective against the symptoms of abdominal complaints like nausea, heartburn and intestinal spasms. (4)
8. To Stimulate Menstruation
Wormwood has natural emenagogue properties which basically mean that it can help stimulate menstruation and help regulate the cycle of menstruation. This may be desirable because herbal emenagogue preparations like wormwood can be used as an emergency contraceptive or as a natural treatment for infrequent menstruation.
9. Crohn’s disease
Research has suggested that wormwood can improve the symptoms in Crohn’s disease. Its regular consumption for 2 – 3 months can help lowering symptoms of the disease and reducing steroid dosage.
Ayurvedic Health benefits of Wormwood
- Ascaris: Make a powder of wormwood. Take one tbsp two times a day.
- Bursitis: Apply wormwood over the affected area twice a day.
- Debility: Take 2-3 tbsp of wormwood two times a day.
- Aphrodisiac: Put some wormwood dried leaves in the fire and inhale its smoke.
- Tapeworm infection: For cleaning of tapeworm infection you need to drink half a cup of wormwood tea in the morning on an empty stomach and at night before sleeping, during 5-6 days.
- Appetite: To strengthen the appetite take one teaspoon of chopped young wormwood leaves mixed with honey every day for three weeks.
- Asthma: You should drink a glass of wine (0.5 ounces) with boiled wormwood on an empty stomach.
- Freckles and scabs on face: You need to crush fresh wormwood leaves, put in water, cover and strain after 24 hours. You can wash 3-4 times a day with that water and freckles and scabs will disappear on your face.
- Gall bladder, spleen, and kidney stones Problems: Grind one teaspoon of wormwood, one teaspoon of dandelion, one tablespoon of mint and one tablespoon of yarrow. Put all the ingredients in a glass jar, and pour one liter of white wine. Seal, let it stand for 8 days with occasionally shaking and then strain the wine. Take one tablespoon of wine 3 to 4 times a day about 30 minutes before eating.
Other Traditional uses and benefits of Wormwood
- It is an extremely useful medicine for those with weak and under-active digestion.
- It increases stomach acid and bile production, improving digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
- It also eases wind and bloating and, if taken regularly, helps the body return to full vitality after a prolonged illness.
- Leaves and flowering shoots are anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, carminative, cholagogue, emenagogue, febrifuge, hypnotic, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge.
- Extremely bitter leaves are chewed to stimulate the appetite.
- Leaves have been used with some success in the treatment of anorexia nervosa.
- Plant is applied externally to bruises and bites.
- Warm compress has been used to ease sprains and strained muscles.
- Homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves.
- It is used to stimulate bile and gastric juice production and to treat disorders of the liver and gall bladder.
- Mix fresh wormwood juice with a little honey and put over the eyes to improve vision.
- Mix wormwood with equal amount of lemon balm, it helps to stimulates the nerves and brain.
- If you wash your eyes with the wormwood tea 2-3 times a day it strengthens vision.
- Steam from wormwood let will help celiac and painful ear and can also calm a toothache.
How to take it
Wormwood is available in a number of forms including capsules, tinctures, tablet and liquid extract forms. Its oil is also extracted and sold as essential oil. There is inadequate proof regarding an exact dose but traditionally for indigestion and other digestive problems, it has been taken at around 3 to 5 grams each day as an herbal infusion.
As well as the commercially available forms of wormwood, it is often drunk as a tea. You can make your own home made wormwood brew by following these steps.
- Take around half a teaspoon of crushed, dried wormwood.
- Add your herbs to a cup of boiled water.
- Allow the herbs to seep for around 15 minutes then strain out the herbs.
- You can conceal the bitter taste of the herb by adding a masking agent like peppermint. This will make your decoction more palatable and is also excellent for indigestion and heartburn.
- You can drink up to three cups a day but should not continue to use it for more than 4 weeks at a time.
- Leaves are occasionally used as a flavoring.
- Absinthe – a distilled, highly alcoholic drink is produced in France, Switzerland, Australia, Spain, and the Czech Republic.
- In the middle Ages, it was used to spice mead, and in Morocco it is used with tea, called sheeba.
- In 18th century England, wormwood was sometimes used instead of hops in beer.
- Fresh or dried shoots are said to repel insects and mice.
- They have been laid amongst clothing to repel moths and have also been used as a strewing herb.
- An infusion of the plant is said to discourage slugs and insects.
- The plant contains substances called sesquiterpene lactones, these are strongly insecticidal.
- The plant is poisonous if used in large quantities.
- Even small quantities have been known to cause nervous disorders, convulsions, insomnia etc.
- Just the scent of the plant has been known to cause headaches and nervousness in some people.
- Avoid if prone to seizures.
- Avoid during pregnancy & breast feeding.
- Absinthism adverse effects include hallucinations, insomnia, loss of intellect, psychosis, tremor & seizures.
- Plant should be taken internally in small doses for short-term treatment only, preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
- It should not be prescribed for children.
- The use of wormwood as a medicinal herb should not exceed four weeks.