Wormwood: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions

Wormwood

What other names is Wormwood known by?

Absinth, Absinthe, Absinthe Suisse, Absinthii Herba, Absinthites, Absinthium, Ajenjo, Alvine, Armoise, Armoise Absinthe, Armoise Amère, Armoise Commune, Armoise Vulgaire, Artesian Absinthium, Artemisia absinthium, Common Wormwood, Grande Absinthe, Green Ginger, Herba Artemisae, Herbe aux Vers, Herbe d’Absinthe, Herbe Sainte, Indhana, Lapsent, Menu Alvine, Qing Hao, Vilayati Afsanteen, Wermut, Wermutkraut, Western Wormwood, Wurmkraut.

What is Wormwood?

Wormwood is an herb. The above-ground plant parts and oil are used for medicine.

Wormwood is used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood is also used to treat fever, liver disease, and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating.

Wormwood oil is also used for digestive disorders, to increase sexual desire, and to stimulate the imagination.

Some people apply wormwood directly to the skin for healing wounds and insect bites. Wormwood oil is used as a counterirritant to reduce pain.

In manufacturing, wormwood oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes. It is also used as an insecticide.

Wormwood is used in some alcoholic beverages. Vermouth, for example, is a wine beverage flavored with extracts of wormwood. Absinthe is another well-known alcoholic beverage made with wormwood. It is an emerald-green alcoholic drink that is prepared from wormwood oil, often along with other dried herbs such as anise and fennel. Absinthe was popularized by famous artists and writers such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Manet, van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde. It is now banned in many countries, including the U.S. But it is still allowed in European Union countries as long as the thujone content is less than 35 mg/kg. Thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. Distilling wormwood in alcohol increases the thujone concentration.

QUESTION

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for.

  • Crohn’s disease. Early research suggests that taking a specific wormwood product (SedaCrohn, Noor Herbals, LLC) daily for 10 weeks improves quality of life and mood and reduces the amount of steroids needed by people with Crohn’s disease.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Indigestion.
  • Gallbladder disorders.
  • Wounds.
  • Insect bites.
  • Worm infestations.
  • Low sexual desire.
  • Spasms.
  • Increasing sweating.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of wormwood for these uses.

How does Wormwood work?

Wormwood oil contains the chemical thujone, which excites the central nervous system. However, it can also cause seizures and other adverse effects.

Are there safety concerns?

Wormwood is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food and beverages including bitters and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. Wormwood that contains thujone is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when it is taken by mouth. Thujone can cause seizures, muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), kidney failure, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, tremors, urine retention, thirst, numbness of arms and legs, paralysis, and death.

Not enough is known to rate the safety of using wormwood topically.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

If you are breast-feeding, don’t use wormwood until more is known about safety.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Wormwood may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking wormwood.

A rare inherited blood condition called porphyria: Thujone present in wormwood oil might increase the body’s production of chemicals called porphyrins. This could make porphyria worse.

Kidney disorders: Taking wormwood oil might cause kidney failure. If you have kidney problems, talk with your healthcare provider before taking wormwood.

Seizure disorders, including epilepsy: Wormwood contains thujone, which can cause seizures. There is concern that wormwood might make seizures more likely in people who are prone to them.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Wormwood may also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, wormwood may decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.

Dosing considerations for Wormwood.

The appropriate dose of wormwood depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for wormwood. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

SLIDESHOW

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Anderson, J. H. Allergenic airborne pollen and spores in Anchorage, Alaska. Ann.Allergy 1985;54(5):390-399. View abstract.

Arnold, W. N. Vincent van Gogh and the thujone connection. JAMA 11-25-1988;260(20):3042-3044. View abstract.

Benezet-Mazuecos, J. and de la Fuente, A. Electrocardiographic findings after acute absinthe intoxication. Int J Cardiol. 11-10-2006;113(2):e48-e50. View abstract.

Berggren, L. [Drugs and poisons in the life of Vincent van Gogh]. Sven.Med Tidskr. 1997;1(1):125-134. View abstract.

Bielenberg, J. [Thujone]. Med Monatsschr.Pharm 2007;30(9):322-326. View abstract.

Blumer, D. The illness of Vincent van Gogh. Am.J Psychiatry 2002;159(4):519-526. View abstract.

Bonkovsky, H. L., Cable, E. E., Cable, J. W., Donohue, S. E., White, E. C., Greene, Y. J., Lambrecht, R. W., Srivastava, K. K., and Arnold, W. N. Porphyrogenic properties of the terpenes camphor, pinene, and thujone (with a note on historic implications for absinthe and the illness of Vincent van Gogh). Biochem.Pharmacol. 6-9-1992;43(11):2359-2368. View abstract.

Chung, M. J., Kang, A. Y., Park, S. O., Park, K. W., Jun, H. J., and Lee, S. J. The effect of essential oils of dietary wormwood (Artemisia princeps), with and without added vitamin E, on oxidative stress and some genes involved in cholesterol metabolism. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2007;45(8):1400-1409. View abstract.

Deiml, T., Haseneder, R., Zieglgansberger, W., Rammes, G., Eisensamer, B., Rupprecht, R., and Hapfelmeier, G. Alpha-thujone reduces 5-HT3 receptor activity by an effect on the agonist-reduced desensitization. Neuropharmacology 2004;46(2):192-201. View abstract.

Dettling, A., Grass, H., Schuff, A., Skopp, G., Strohbeck-Kuehner, P., and Haffner, H. T. Absinthe: attention performance and mood under the influence of thujone. J Stud.Alcohol 2004;65(5):573-581. View abstract.

Efferth, T. Willmar Schwabe Award 2006: antiplasmodial and antitumor activity of artemisinin—from bench to bedside. Planta Med 2007;73(4):299-309. View abstract.

Gniazdowska, B., Doroszewska, G., and Doroszewski, W. [Hypersensitivity to weed pollen allergens in the region of Bygdoszcz]. Pneumonol.Alergol.Pol. 1993;61(7-8):367-372. View abstract.

Hein, J., Wrase, J., and Heinz, A. [Alcohol-related disorders: etiopathology and therapeutic considerations]. Fortschr.Neurol.Psychiatr. 2007;75(1):10-17. View abstract.

Hien, T. T., VinhChau, N. V., Vinh, N. N., Hung, N. T., Phung, M. Q., Toan, L. M., Mai, P. P., Dung, N. T., HoaiTam, D. T., and Arnold, K. Management of multiple drug-resistant malaria in Viet Nam. Ann.Acad.Med Singapore 1997;26(5):659-663. View abstract.

Holstege, C. P., Baylor, M. R., and Rusyniak, D. E. Absinthe: return of the Green Fairy. Semin.Neurol. 2002;22(1):89-93. View abstract.

Hughes, J. R. A reappraisal of the possible seizures of Vincent van Gogh. Epilepsy Behav. 2005;6(4):504-510. View abstract.

Huisman, M., Brug, J., and Mackenbach, J. Absinthe—is its history relevant for current public health? Int J Epidemiol. 2007;36(4):738-744. View abstract.

Iwasaki, E. and Baba, M. [Classification of allergens by positive percentage agreement and cluster analysis based on specific IgE antibodies in asthmatic children]. Arerugi 1992;41(10):1449-1458. View abstract.

Koo, H. N., Hong, S. H., Jeong, H. J., Lee, E. H., Kim, N. G., Choi, S. D., Ra, K. W., Kim, K. S., Kang, B. K., Kim, J. J., Oh, J. G., and Kim, H. M. Inhibitory effect of Artemisia capillaris on ethanol-induced cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1alpha) secretion in Hep G2 cells. Immunopharmacol.Immunotoxicol. 2002;24(3):441-453. View abstract.

Krishna, S., Bustamante, L., Haynes, R. K., and Staines, H. M. Artemisinins: their growing importance in medicine. Trends Pharmacol.Sci 2008;29(10):520-527. View abstract.

Lachenmeier, D. W. [Absinthe — history of dependence to thujone or to alcohol?]. Fortschr.Neurol.Psychiatr. 2007;75(5):306-308. View abstract.

Lachenmeier, D. W. [Thujone-attributable effects of absinthe are only an urban legend—toxicology uncovers alcohol as real cause of absinthism]. Med Monatsschr.Pharm 2008;31(3):101-106. View abstract.

Lachenmeier, D. W. and Nathan-Maister, D. Absinthe and tobacco—a new look at an old problem? (Comment on: Absinthe—is its history relevant for current public health?). Int J Epidemiol. 2008;37(1):217-218. View abstract.

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Mangena, T. and Muyima, N. Y. Comparative evaluation of the antimicrobial activities of essential oils of Artemisia afra, Pteronia incana and Rosmarinus officinalis on selected bacteria and yeast strains. Lett Appl.Microbiol 1999;28(4):291-296. View abstract.

Meschler, J. P. and Howlett, A. C. Thujone exhibits low affinity for cannabinoid receptors but fails to evoke cannabimimetic responses. Pharmacol.Biochem.Behav. 1999;62(3):473-480. View abstract.

Milovic, I. [Medical manuscript of Mihail Plamenac, a priest]. Srp.Arh.Celok.Lek. 1998;126(1-2):63-67. View abstract.

Minigh, J. Steroid-Sparing Effect of Wormwood in Crohn’s Disease. HerbalGram 2008;(77):29-30.

Morrant, J. C. The wing of madness: the illness of Vincent van Gogh. Can.J Psychiatry 1993;38(7):480-484. View abstract.

Omer, B., Krebs, S., Omer, H., and Noor, T. O. Steroid-sparing effect of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) in Crohn’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Phytomedicine. 2007;14(2-3):87-95. View abstract.

Ostroumov, A. I., Khanferian, R. A., and Edigarova, T. L. [Allergenic activity of some kinds of plant pollen]. Biull.Eksp.Biol.Med 1979;88(9):332-333. View abstract.

Park, H. S., Lee, M. K., and Hong, C. S. Bronchial challenge responses in asthmatic patients sensitized to Artemisia spp. pollen. Yonsei Med J 1989;30(2):173-179. View abstract.

Plebani, M., Borghesan, F., Basso, D., and Faggian, D. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves: a fundamental tool for improving the clinical usefulness of in vitro IgE tests. Allergy 1996;51(6):407-411. View abstract.

Rekand, T. and Sulg, I. [Absinthe and the artistic creativeness]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 1-9-2003;123(1):70-73. View abstract.

Rezaeinodehi, A. and Khangholi, S. Chemical composition of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium growing wild in Iran. Pak.J Biol.Sci 3-15-2008;11(6):946-949. View abstract.

Singh, N. P. and Lai, H. C. Artemisinin induces apoptosis in human cancer cells. Anticancer Res 2004;24(4):2277-2280. View abstract.

Singh, N. P. and Lai, H. C. Synergistic cytotoxicity of artemisinin and sodium butyrate on human cancer cells. Anticancer Res 2005;25(6B):4325-4331. View abstract.

Sundar, S. N., Marconett, C. N., Doan, V. B., Willoughby, J. A., Sr., and Firestone, G. L. Artemisinin selectively decreases functional levels of estrogen receptor-alpha and ablates estrogen-induced proliferation in human breast cancer cells. Carcinogenesis 2008;29(12):2252-2258. View abstract.

Trevett, A. and Lalloo, D. A new look at an old drug: artemesinin and qinghaosu. P.N G Med J 1992;35(4):264-269. View abstract.

Van der, Meersch H. [Review of the use of artemisinin and its derivatives in the treatment of malaria]. J Pharm Belg. 2005;60(1):23-29. View abstract.

Weisbord, S. D., Soule, J. B., and Kimmel, P. L. Poison on line—acute renal failure caused by oil of wormwood purchased through the Internet. N.Engl.J.Med. 9-18-1997;337(12):825-827. View abstract.

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Burkhard PR, Burkhardt K, Haenggeli CA, Landis T. Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. J Neurol 1999;246:667-70. View abstract.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 — Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182

Gambelunghe C, Melai P. Absinthe: enjoying a new popularity among young people? Forensic Sci Int 2002;130:183-6. View abstract.

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SWEET ANNIE

Absinthe Sauvage, Ajenjo Silvestre, Annual Mugwort, Annual Wormwood, Armoise AmГЁre, Armoise Annuelle, ArtГ©mise, Artemisia annua, Artemisia, Artemisinin, Chinese Wormwood, Ching-hao, Herba Artemisiae Annuae, Herbe aux Cent GoГ»ts, Huang Hua Guo, Qing Hao, Qinghaosu, Sourcil de Lune, Sweet Wormwood.

Overview Information

Sweet Annie is an herb. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Sweet Annie is used most commonly for malaria. It contains a chemical that can be changed in the laboratory to make it more effective against malaria. This lab-made product is sold as a prescription drug for malaria in Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Sweet Annie is also used for bacterial infections such as dysentery and tuberculosis; illnesses caused by worms, other parasites, and mites; fungal infections; and viral infections such as the common cold. Other uses include treatment of upset stomach, fever, yellowed skin (jaundice), psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune disorders, loss of appetite, blood vessel disorders, constipation, gallbladder disorders, stomach pain, painful menstruation, and joint pain (rheumatism).

People with AIDS sometimes use sweet Annie to prevent an often fatal type of lung infection called pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) that is caused by a fungus.

Sweet Annie is sometimes applied directly to the skin for bacterial and fungal infections, arthritis and other joint pain, bruises, nerve pain, and sprains.

How does it work?

Sweet Annie contains a chemical called artemisinin that seems to be effective against the parasites that cause malaria. Some drug manufacturers make anti-malarial medications from artemisinin that they have modified in the laboratory.

Sweet Annie should not be used alone for malaria since it may only inactivate the parasites that cause malaria, not actually kill them. The amount of artemisinin in sweet Annie might be too small to kill all the parasites that cause malaria, but large enough to make these parasites resistant to further treatment with more powerful malaria drugs that also contain artemisinin.

Many researchers are investigating new ways to increase the amount of artemisinin in sweet Annie.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Malaria. Taking sweet Annie tea for 4-7 days might improve symptoms and decrease the number of active parasites in people with malaria. The tea should not be boiled, because heat will destroy the chemical that seems to fight malaria. There is some concern that if sweet Annie tea is used alone instead of in combination with usual malaria treatments it might only inactivate the malaria parasites, not actually kill them.
  • AIDS-related infections.
  • Anorexia.
  • Arthritis.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Fungal infections.
  • Bruises.
  • Common cold.
  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Gallbladder disorders.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
  • Night sweats.
  • Painful menstruation.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Scabies.
  • Sprains.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of sweet Annie for these uses.

Side Effects & Safety

Sweet Annie is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth. The tea of sweet Annie might cause upset stomach and vomiting. It might also cause an allergic reaction in some people including a rash and cough.

There has been one report of liver damage in a person who took doses of sweet Annie that were too large. But liver damage has not been reported in people taking typical doses.

Not enough is known about the safety of applying sweet Annie directly to the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Sweet Annie is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Animal studies show that drugs made in the laboratory from artemisinin, a chemical found in sweet Annie, can cause death of the fetus or birth defects when used early in the pregnancy. The safety of using sweet Annie during the last 6 months of pregnancy is not known. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization considers drugs made in the laboratory from artemisinin acceptable to use during the last six months of pregnancy, if no other malaria treatment is available.

The safety of using sweet Annie during breast-feeding is not known. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Sweet Annie may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking sweet Annie.

Interactions ?

We currently have no information for SWEET ANNIE Interactions.

Dosing

The appropriate dose of sweet Annie depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for sweet Annie. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Wormwoods

Botanical: N.O. Compositae

  • Wormwood, Common
  • Wormwood, Roman
  • Wormwood, Sea

The Wormwoods are members of the great family of Compositae and belong to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of 180 species, of which we have four growing wild in England, the Common Wormwood, Mugwort, Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood. In addition, as garden plants, though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in every herb-garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), an old-fashioned favourite, is found in many borders, whilst others, such as A. sericea, A. cana and A. alpina, form pretty rockwork shrubs.

The whole family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the plant: ‘as bitter as Wormwood’ is a very Ancient proverb.

In some of the Western states of North America there are large tracts almost entirely destitute of other vegetation than certain kinds of Artemisia, which cover vast plains. The plants are of no use as forage: and the few wild animals that feed on them are said to have, when eaten, a bitter taste. The Artemisias also abound in the arid soil of the Tartarean steppes and in other similar situations. The genus is named Artemisia from Artemis, the Greek name for Diana. In an early translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius we find: ‘Of these worts that we name Artemisia, it is said that Diana did find them and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is Artemisias.’ [Top]

WORMWOOD, COMMON

Absinthium
( Artemisia absinthium LINN.)
Click on graphic for larger image

Botanical: Artemisia absinthium (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Compositae

  • Description
  • Cultivation
  • Parts Used
  • Constituents
  • Medicinal Action and Uses
  • Preparations

—Synonym—Green Ginger.
—Part Used—Whole Herb.
—Habitat—Europe, Siberia, and United States of America. The Common Wormwood held a high reputation in medicine among the Ancients. Tusser (1577), in July’s Husbandry, says: ‘While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine To save against March, to make flea to refraine: Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne, What saver is better (if physick be true) For places infected than Wormwood and Rue? It is a comfort for hart and the braine And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.’ Besides being strewn in chambers as Tusser recommended, it used to be laid amongstuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects.

According to the Ancients, Wormwood counteracted the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. The plant was of some importance among the Mexicans, who celebrated their great festival of the Goddess of Salt by a ceremonial dance of women, who wore on their heads garlands of Wormwood.

With the exception of Rue, Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops. The leaves resist putrefaction, and have been on that account a principal ingredient in antiseptic fomentations. An Old Love Charm ‘On St. Luke’s Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner «that is to be»: «St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me, In dreams let me my true-love see.» ‘ Culpepper, writing of the three Wormwoods most in use, the Common Wormwood, Sea Wormwood and Roman Wormwood, tells us: ‘Each kind has its particular virtues’ . . . the Common Wormwood is ‘the strongest,’ the Sea Wormwood, ‘the second in bitterness,’ whereas the Roman Wormwood, ‘to be found in botanic gardens’ — the first two being wild — ‘joins a great deal of aromatic flavour with but little bitterness.’

The Common Wormwood grows on roadsides and waste places, and is found over the greater part of Europe and Siberia, having been formerly much cultivated for its qualities. In Britain, it appears to be truly indigenous near the sea and locally in many other parts of England and Scotland, from Forfar southwards. In Ireland it is a doubtful native. It has become naturalized in the United States.

—Description—The root is perennial, and from it arise branched, firm, leafy stems, sometimes almost woody at the base. The flowering stem is 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and whitish, being closely covered with fine silky hairs. The leaves, which are also whitish on both sides from the same reason, are about 3 inches long by 1 1/2 broad, cut into deeply and repeatedly (about three times pinnatifid), the segments being narrow (linear) and blunt. The leaf-stalks are slightly winged at the margin. The small, nearly globular flowerheads are arranged in an erect, leafy panicle, the leaves on the flower-stalks being reduced to three, or even one linear segment, and the little flowers themselves being pendulous and of a greenish-yellow tint. They bloom from July to October. The ripe fruits are not crowned by a tuft of hairs, or pappus, as in the majority of the Compositae family.

The leaves and flowers are very bitter, with a characteristic odour, resembling that of thujone. The root has a warm and aromatic taste.

—Cultivation—Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings, or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet apart each way.

—Parts Used—The whole herb — leaves and tops — gathered in July and August, when the plant is in flower and dried.

Collect only on a dry day, after the sun has dried off the dew. Cut off the upper green portion and reject the lower parts of the stems, together with any discoloured or insect-eaten leaves. Tie loosely in bunches of uniform size and length, about six stalks to a bunch, and spread out in shape of a fan, so that the air can get to all parts. Hang over strings, in the open, on a fine, sunny, warm day, but in half-shade, otherwise the leaves will become tindery; the drying must not be done in full sunlight, or the aromatic properties will be partly lost. Aromatic herbs should be dried at a temperature of about 70 degrees. If no sun is available, the bunches may be hung over strings in a covered shed, or disused greenhouse, or in a sunny warm attic, provided there is ample ventilation, so that the moist heated air may escape. The room may also be heated with a coke or anthracite stove, care being taken that the window is kept open during the day. If after some days the leaves are crisp and the stalks still damp, hang the bunches over a stove, when the stalks will quickly finish drying. Uniformity in size in the bunches is important, as it facilitates packing. When the drying process is completed, pack away at once in airtight boxes, as otherwise the herbs will absorb about 12 per cent moisture from the air. If sold to the wholesale druggists in powdered form, rub through a sieve as soon as thoroughly dry, before the bunches have had time to absorb any moisture, and pack in tins or bottles at once.

—Constituents—The chief constituent is a volatile oil, of which the herb yields in distillation from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. It is usually dark green, or sometimes blue in colour, and has a strong odour and bitter, acrid taste. The oil contains thujone (absinthol or tenacetone), thujyl alcohol (both free and combined with acetic, isovalerianic, succine and malic acids), cadinene, phellandrene and pinene. The herb also contains the bitter glucoside absinthin, absinthic acid, together with tannin, resin, starch, nitrate of potash and other salts.

A nervine tonic, particularly helpful against the falling sickness and for flatulence. It is a good remedy for enfeebled digestion and debility.

—Preparations—Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Wormwood Tea, made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful diuretic in some dropsical cases. The ashes yield a purer alkaline salt than most other vegetables, except Beanstalks and Broom.

The juice of the larger leaves which grow from the root before the stalk appears has been used as a remedy for jaundice and dropsy, but it is intensely nauseous. A light infusion of the tops of the plant, used fresh, is excellent for all disorders of the stomach, creating an appetite, promoting digestion and preventing sickness after meals, but it is said to produce the contrary effect if made too strong.

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The flowers, dried and powdered, are most effectual as a vermifuge, and used to be considered excellent in agues. The essential oil of the herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly the whole of their smell and taste both to spirit and water, but the cold water infusions are the least offensive.

The intensely bitter, tonic and stimulant qualities have caused Wormwood not only to be an ingredient in medicinal preparations, but also to be used in various liqueurs, of which absinthe is the chief, the basis of absinthe being absinthol, extracted from Wormwood. Wormwood, as employed in making this liqueur, bears also the name ‘Wermuth’ — preserver of the mind — from its medicinal virtues as a nervine and mental restorative. If not taken habitually, it soothes spinal irritability and gives tone to persons of a highly nervous temperament. Suitable allowances of the diluted liqueur will promote salutary perspiration and may be given as a vermifuge. Inferior absinthe is generally adulterated with copper, which produces the characteristic green colour.

The drug, absinthium, is rarely employed, but it might be of value in nervous diseases such as neurasthenia, as it stimulates the cerebral hemispheres, and is a direct stimulant of the cortex cerebri. When taken to excess it produces giddiness and attacks of epileptiform convulsions. Absinthium occurs in the British Pharmacopoeia in the form of extract, infusion and tincture, and is directed to be extracted also from A. maritima, the Sea Wormwood, which possesses the same virtues in a less degree, and is often more used as a stomachic than the Common Wormwood. Commercially this often goes under the name of Roman Wormwood, though that name really belongs to A. Pontica. All three species were used, as in Culpepper’s time. Dr. John Hill (1772) recommends Common Wormwood in many forms. He says: ‘The Leaves have been commonly used, but the flowery tops are the right part. These, made into a light infusion, strengthen digestion, correct acidities, and supply the place of gall, where, as in many constitutions, that is deficient. One ounce of the Flowers and Buds should be put into an earthen vessel, and a pint and a half of boiling water poured on them, and thus to stand all night. In the morning the clear liquor with two spoonfuls of wine should be taken at three draughts, an hour and a half distance from one another. Whoever will do this regularly for a week, will have no sickness after meals, will feel none of that fulness so frequent from indigestion, and wind will be no more troublesome; if afterwards, he will take but a fourth part of this each day, the benefit will be lasting.’ He further tells us that if an ounce of these flowers be put into a pint of brandy and let to stand six weeks, the resultant tincture will in a great measure prevent the increase of gravel — and give great relief in gout. ‘The celebrated Baron Haller has found vast benefit by this; and myself have very happily followed his example.’

WORMWOOD, ROMAN

Botanical: Artemesia pontica
Family: N.O. Compositae

Roman Wormwood (Artemesia Pontica) is not indigenous to this country, being a native of Southern Europe. It grows about the same height as the Common Wormwood, but has smaller and more finely cut leaves, the segments being narrower, the upper leaves more resembling those of Southernwood; the leaves are white with fine hairs on both upper and under surfaces. The flowers, which blossom in July, are numerous, at the tops of the branches, and are darker and much smaller than those of Common Wormwood.

This is the most delicate though the least strong of the Wormwoods; the aromatic flavour with which its bitterness is mixed causes it to be employed in making the liqueur Vermuth.

Medicinally, the fresh tops are used, and also the whole herb, dried. Much of the A. Pontica in commerce is A. maritima.

Culpepper considered the Roman Wormwood ‘excellent to strengthen the stomach.’ Also that ‘the juice of the fresh tops is good against obstructions of the liver and spleen. . . . An infusion of the flowering tops strengthens digestion. A tincture is good against gravel and gives great relief in the gout.’

Dr. John Hill says of this plant that it is the ‘most delicate, but of least strength. The Wormwood wine, so famous with the Germans, is made with Roman Wormwood, put into the juice and work’d with it; it is a strong and an excellent wine, not unpleasant, yet of such efficacy to give an appetite that the Germans drink a glass with every other mouthful, and that way eat for hours together, without sickness or indigestion.’

WORMWOOD, SEA

Botanical: Artemesia maritima
Family: N.O. Compositae

  • Description
  • Part Used
  • Medicinal Action and Uses

—Synonym—Old Woman.
—Parts Used—Young flowering tops and shoots.
—Habitat—In Britain it is found as far-as Wigton on the West and Aberdeen on the East; also in north-east Ireland and in the Channel Islands.

The Sea Wormwood, in its many variations of form, has an extremely wide distribution in the northern hemisphere of the Old World, occurring mostly in saltish soils. It is found in the salt marshes of the British Isles, on the coasts of the Baltic, of France and the Mediterranean, and on saline soils in Hungary; thence it extends eastwards, covering immense tracts in Southern Russia, the region of the Caspian and Central Siberia to Chinese Mongolia.

—Description—It somewhat resembles Artemesia Absinthium, but is smaller. Thestems rise about a foot or 18 inches in height. The leaves are twice pinnatifid, with narrow, linear segments, and, like the whole plant, are covered on both sides with a white cottony down. The small, oblong flower-heads — each containing three to six tubular florets — are of a yellowish or brownish tint; they are produced in August and September, and are arranged in racemes, sometimes drooping, sometimes erect.

Popularly this species is called ‘Old Woman,’ in distinction to ‘Old Man’ or Southernwood, which it somewhat resembles, though it is more delicate-looking and lacks the peculiar refreshing scent of ‘Old Man.’ Dr. Hill says of this species: ‘This is a very noble bitter: its peculiar province is to give an appetite, as that of the Common Wormwood is to assist digestion; the flowery tops and the young shoots possess the virtue: the older Leaves and the Stalk should be thrown away as useless. . . . The apothecaries put three times as much sugar as of the ingredient in their Conserves; but the virtue is lost in the sweetness, those will not keep so well that have less sugar, but ’tis easy to make them fresh as they are wanted.’ The plant abounds in salt marshes in which cattle have been observed to fatten quickly, and thus the herb has acquired the reputation of being beneficial to them, but they do not eat it generally, and the richness of maritime pasturage must be regarded as the true reason of their improvement under such circumstances.

—Part Used—The flowering tops and young shoots are used, collected and dried in the same manner as Wormwood.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—The plant possesses the same properties as the otherWormwoods, but is less powerful. It is a bitter tonic and aromatic.

Although it is not now employed in regular medical practice, it is often made use of by country people for intermittent fever, and for various other medicinal purposes instead of the true Wormwood. Thornton, in his Family Herbal, tells us that: ‘beat up with thrice its weight of fine sugar, it is made up into a conserve ordered by the London College, and may be taken where the other preparations disgust too much.’ It acts as a tonic and is good in worm cases, and Culpepper gives the following uses for it: ‘Boiling water poured upon it produces an excellent stomachic infusion, but the best way is taking it in a tincture made with brandy. Hysteric complaints have been completely cured by the constant use of this tincture. In the scurvy and in the hypochondriacal disorders of studious, sedentary men, few things have a greater effect: for these it is best in strong infusion. The whole blood and all the juices of the body are effected by taking this herb. It is often used in medicine instead of the Roman Wormwood, though it falls far short of it in virtue.’ See:
MUGWORT
SOUTHERNWOOD
WORMSEED (LEVANT)

Purchase from Richters Seeds
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) Seeds
African Wormwood (Artemisia afra) Seeds
Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia annua) Seeds
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) Plants
Silver King Wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver King’) Plants
Silver Mound Wormwood (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Nana’) Plants
Silver Queen Wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver Queen’) Plants
Tree Wormwood (Artemisia arborescens) Plants

Bear in mind «A Modern Herbal» was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900’s. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.

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