What is Wormwood?
Wormwood, scientifically known as Artemisia absinthium, is a perennial, shrub-like bitter herb indigenous to the temperate climate zones of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia.
Characterized by its greenish grey stems, silky silvery white leaves, and yellow tubular flowers, it has an aromatic smell and a spicy, bitter taste.
Today, the herb is commercially cultivated in many regions in the
world due to the high demand for its medicinal benefits.
Wormwood has been used for its therapeutic properties since ancient times.
In fact, it derives its name from one of its ancient usages as an intestinal anthelmintic, expelling parasitic worms and other intestinal parasites from the body.
Historians have provided evidence pointing to the widespread usage of wormwood in ancient Egypt for the relief of anal pain and as a wine additive.
Wormwood in the Bible
Additionally, this medicinal herb was widely used in Europe to prevent indigestion and has several biblical mentions pointing to its usage both in the old and New Testament days.
In the 19th Century Europe, the wormwood herb was used in the production of a controversial and highly addictive alcoholic drink, absinthe.
This drink had severe side effects, collectively known as absinthism, which led to the breakdown of the central nervous systems as demonstrated by acute cases of hallucinations, sleeplessness, epilepsy, and other mental conditions.
Due to the many controversies surrounding the drink, absinthe is prohibited in many countries of the world including the United States.
The cause of these harmful side effects was believed to be a compound called Thujone, which is abundant in wormwood herb. Although modern scientific methods have called to question its adverse effects by attributing its toxicity to impure production or extraction methods, thujone is a potent poison and a neurotoxin.
Despite the potential adverse effects of thujone, used with caution, wormwood benefits are many, and the herb is still widely used for its medicinal value.
Wormwood can be used in many different forms, whether fresh or dried.
All the above-ground parts of the herb have medicinal value.
The wormwood is commercially available in the form of essential oils, tablets, capsules, and tincture.
The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of its leaves, twigs, and flowering tops.
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Wormwood Herb Elements
Wormwood essential oil contains more than twenty compounds, the main ones being pinene and thuloje.
- ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- phenolic acids
- sesquiterpene lactones.
Wormwood benefits are attributable to its several medicinal compounds which include anti-helmitic, cholagogue, deodorant, digestive, emmenagogue, febrifuge, insecticide, narcotic, vermifuge, and tonic substance.
Join me in this article to explore in details, the eighteen benefits of wormwood and the many uses to which you
can apply this product of nature.
Wormwood Fights malaria
Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite found in female Anopheles mosquitoes.
Malaria is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, and infected persons experience fever, muscle aches, and nausea.
It is a fatal disease if not treated with urgency and is mainly found in the tropics and sub-tropics countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria is one of the leading killers in these countries.
Sweet wormwood or qinghao in Chinese has the most potent antimalarial ingredient in the world currently known as artemisinin. The Chinese have been using it for thousands of years.
In 1975, a Chinese scientist discovered the powerful malaria-fighting properties of artemisinin. Since then, artemisinin has been used in antimalarial drugs with the recommendation of the WHO.
Artemisinin acts quickly to decrease the number of parasites in the
The Plasmodium parasite has a high iron content which reacts with the artemisinin to produce free radicals.
These free radicals act to damage and destroy the cell walls of the parasite thus eliminating the parasite.
Wormwood Oil Benefits
The benefits of wormwood oil are far and wide, we advise you to be cautious and consult your healthcare doctor to be safe.
Wormwood as an Insecticide
Are you spending sleepless nights due to the buzzing noises of
Wormwood herbs provide you a natural, cost-effective solution. In
addition to its practical usage in the treatment of malaria, wormwood also acts as a mosquito repellant.
The toxic ingredients in wormwood repel and kill mosquitoes and other small pests around your home.
It is used in the form of sprays and fumigants to ward off these disease-causing insects.
It is a great natural insecticide compared to the chemical alternatives and is especially useful in getting rid of pests and insects that have become immune to chemical pesticides.
These two-pronged malaria-fighting properties of wormwood make it a great addition to your herbal medicine collection.
Wormwood Treating Intestinal Parasites
As earlier stated, wormwood derived its name from its extensive application in eliminating intestinal parasites from the body.
Parasitic worms can find their home in our intestines and cause us undue discomfort, pain, and embarrassment.
They include tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, and pinworm
which is the most prevalent worm infection.
The eggs of these worms are easily transferred from one person to another where proper hygiene is not observed.
Some symptoms include chronic itching in the anal area, diarrhea, and blood in stools.
In severe cases, an infected person can eject the worms through vomit or in stools.
The worms, which infest our intestines, absorb nutrients from the food we eat depriving us of the essential nutrients for growth and fighting disease.
In children, the worms cause stunted growth which in turn may lead to reduced cognition and educational performance, low productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases.
Wormwood is effective in eliminating worms from the intestines.
It’s toxic ingredients act to kill and rid your intestines of these harmful parasitic worms quickly and efficiently.
Regular growth patterns are restored in children as they regain the ability to absorb all the right nutrients from ingested food.
To combat worm infestation, wormwood can be taken as a tea or as an essential oil.
Wormwood for Heavy Menstrual Periods
Women who experience heavy menstrual periods will benefit from drinking wormwood tea, especially during their menstrual period. Wormwood has emmenagogue properties that stimulate blood flow in the uterus and pelvic area.
Emmenagogues also act to stimulate menstrual discharge, normalizing heavy periods and opening up any obstructed areas. This helps in preventing the formation of cancer-causing uterine tumors.
Women who experience irregular periods or who have painful periods accompanied by muscle cramps and headaches can get relief by drinking wormwood infused tea to ease the symptoms.
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Wormwood Antifungal Properties
Candida is a yeast infection caused by fungi. It is a common infection affecting a woman’s skin, vagina, mouth intestines and mucous membranes.
The fungi are present in our gut in low amounts that do are not harmful.
It thrives and grows when we ingest a diet rich in sugar.
Wormwood’s antifungal properties act to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans.
This, therefore, lowers the number of fungi present in the gut to levels that cannot cause infection.
Sexually transmitted diseases caused by fungi can also be treated with the wormwood.
Drinking wormwood infused tea regularly fights the disease-causing fungi offering quick relief from disturbing symptoms.
Wormwood Antimicrobial Properties
Wormwood is a natural antimicrobial that aids in the treatment of
bacterial infections like salmonella an E. coli.
These gut related infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.
Salmonella has caused many foodborne infections which have led to many deaths annually.
Wormwood has essential oils like alpha-thujone and beta-thujone oils that carry the antimicrobial properties.
They fight bacterial infections by killing the harmful bacteria without destroying good bacteria in the gut.
Use wormwood oil is used in moderate amounts as excessive use of thujone can be harmful to the body.
Wormwood Anti-inflammatory Properties
Wormwood essential oil also contains moderate amounts of anti-inflammatory properties.
It is a quick herbal remedy used to offer relief to moderate pain
caused by inflammations and reduce itchiness and redness produced by the same.
This is effective in the treatment and reduction of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis as well as pain caused by hemorrhoids.
For relieving rheumatoid arthritis, pound and steam some wormwood leave then apply them on the affected area for quick relief.
For hemorrhoids apply the warm pounded leaves on the anal area for cooling and easing of the painful symptoms.
Wormwood Treatment of SIBO
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO is an ailment that can
cause undue pain your lower abdomen if not checked quickly.
The rapid growth of bacteria in your small intestines up to the colon can cause excessive diarrhea, abdominal cramps, constipation and overproduction of gas in your gut.
If these symptoms are left untreated, they induce liver diseases inhibiting the proper functioning of the liver.
Traditionally, antibiotics like metronidazole and rifampin have been used to treat SIBO symptoms.
These chemical antibiotics destroy both the good and harmful bacteria offering short-term relief of symptoms.
Frequent use of antibiotics to counter the recurrent symptoms causes the body to become immune to the effects of the antibiotics. It is also accompanied by side effects and destruction of good bacteria that helps in the digestion of food in the gut.
Wormwood tea mimics the action of these chemical antibiotics.
It is a natural alternative that has minimal side effects (if taken in moderate amounts) and encourages and stimulates the growth of good bacteria for a healthy gut.
It is also useful in persons who have grown immune to antibiotics.
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Wormwood Appetite stimulation
We often lose appetite when we are plagued by illness or when we are stressed.
Drinking wormwood tea or wormwood infused water a few minutes before meals helps in increasing one’s appetite. It also assists in digestion by helping in the absorption of nutrients.
One can recover much faster and go back to their normal appetite levels.
Persons recovering from anorexia can benefit from these appetite and digestion stimulation properties of wormwood oil.
Wormwood tea will help their stomachs adjust gradually from the harmful anorexic habits to a healthy digestive system.
Wormwood Treatment of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cells are rich in iron. Artemisinin acts on these cells in
the same way it works on the malaria-causing parasite.
Breast cancer cells have more iron receptors than healthy cells which makes them more prone to attack by artemisinin.
Artemisinin reacts with the iron causing a breakout of free radicals in the cells.
The free radicals destroy the cancer cells.
This chemotherapy like properties of wormwood offers effective elimination of harmful cancer cells without the painful and often challenging side effects of chemotherapy drugs.
More studies are being conducted to prove the effects of artemisinin on cancer cells scientifically.
Wormwood Acts as a tonic
Wormwood oil or tea is toning the entire body system. As mentioned above, it stimulates the digestive system by helping in the full absorption of nutrients.
It further stimulates the circulatory system which aids in the
distribution of oxygen and nutrients in the entire body.
When the body has absorbed nutrients, further wormwood tones the excretory system which we use to rid our bodies of toxins and waste matter.
The endocrine system also benefits from regular drinking of wormwood tea.
This system aids in the effective discharge of hormones and enzymes while ensuring proper growth and maturity of the body.
It also tones the immune system to fight disease-causing bacteria efficiently.
The nervous system benefits from this tonic and aids in keeping us alert for longer.
Wormwood is also used as a tonic after giving birth.
The Chinese have long used wormwood to relieve the effects of childbirth.
As stated before, wormwood acts as an emmenagogue which promotes the discharge of blood from the uterus.
Taking wormwood infused tea with some honey to mask the taste on a daily basis goes a long way in the elimination of blood from the uterus after childbirth.
Wormwood Managing Nervous System Ailments
Wormwood acts a useful narcotic in controlled environments.
It prevents the onset of epilepsy while relieving the symptoms of an epileptic attack.
It calms the nerves and tones the nervous system which helps in managing convulsions, insomnia, and stress-related ailments.
For a beneficial therapeutic effect, mix a few inches of wormwood roots with raw ginger and palm sugar.
Boil in water, strain and drink when it has cooled.
Wormwood for Odors
The natural scent of wormwood makes it ideal for use as one of the
ingredients in deodorants.
It eliminates or masks terrible odors, and hence it is
used widely in the industrial manufacture of deodorants.
Wormwood Helps in Liver Function
Liver discharges bile into the stomach. The stomach is acidic which creates an unfavorable environment for the digestion of food.
Bile is Alkaline.
It is discharged into the stomach helping in proper
digestion of food and breakdown of nutrients for proper absorption. It counters or neutralizes any overproduction of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
This prevents the onset of ulcers and relieves the symptoms of hyperacidity.
Wormwood has cholagogue properties which promote and stimulate the discharge of bile into the stomach.
Regular use of wormwood tea supports the proper functioning of the liver as well as acting as a tonic to the liver.
Wormwood Counters Infertility
Impotence or infertility in men can cause strained relations between
spouses and deal a significant blow to a man’s ego.
Wormwood has been used to counter impotence as well as acting as an aphrodisiac in couples in search of bearing their children.
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Wormwood Treatment of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory ailment affecting any part of the gastrointestinal system.
It is caused by a myriad of factors which include environmental and bacterial factors.
It can be fatal, and its symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss fever, and anemia.
It can cause bowel obstruction which can cause bowel cancer.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can go deep into layers of your bowel causing undue pain and damage to your gut.
Crohn’s disease, unfortunately, has no cure.
The focus is therefore in the management of its symptoms.
The anti-inflammatory properties of wormwood relieve the inflammations on your gut while the antimicrobial properties work to counter the effects caused by harmful bacterial action on your gastrointestinal system.
Wormwood tea is taken as a thrice daily dose to ease and neutralize the symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
Wormwood for Sore Throat
Bacteria or fungi cause sore throats. When not treated, the influx and growth of the bacteria or fungi can lead to more fatal ailments like pneumonia.
Wormwood has antibacterial and antifungal properties which fight the harmful organisms as well as anti-inflammatory properties that relieve the pain prevalent in sore throats.
Gargle warm water infused with wormwood or drink wormwood tea twice daily.
This will provide quick relief from the discomfort caused by sore throat infections.
Wormwood for Acupuncture
Acupuncture refers to a system of complementary medicine, mostly practiced in China.
In this system, the acupuncturist inserts fine needles through the
skin at specific points along the lines of energy to cure various physical and mental conditions or to relieve pain.
The Chinese have sapped the best of the wormwood plant by using it in various ways.
Wormwood leaves are dried and rolled into cigar-like rolls and
then placed near the pressure points used in acupuncture before the actual acupuncture session begins.
Wormwood Side Effects
The use of wormwood herb and its products should only be done under the guidance of a professional health care provider who is conversant with the impact of its chemical compounds in the body. At the moment, there is no scientific information available to determine the appropriate range of doses for wormwood for the various categories of users.
The right dose is determined by a health professional and is dependent on various factors including the user’s age, health, and several other conditions.
Wormwood is safe when ingested in proportions commonly found in foods and beverages as long as its thujone-free.
It was also safe as a medicine when the chemical compounds used do not include thujone.
Even for this safe usage, do not use wormwood for extended periods.
Experts advise that you should not use it for longer than four weeks at a time.
Long-term usage or overdose may lead to stomach and intestinal cramps, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches restlessness, insomnia, and nerve damage resulting in tremors and seizures.
As noted above, thujone is a potent poison and can be harmful when ingested.
Depending on the quantities ingested, its effects may range from numbness of legs and arms, vomiting, seizures, nightmares, restlessness, kidney failure, stomach cramps, urine retention, sleeplessness, tremors, muscle breakdown and even death.
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Wormwood is Known to stimulate or increase menstrual flow or to interfere with the uterus and cause abortion.
Consequently, do not use it in any form, including for topical application, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive.
Wormwood belongs to the Asteraceae/Compositae family, same as ragweed, marigolds, and daisies.
If you have known allergic reactions to ragweed, wormwood may trigger them as well.
Additionally, if you have porphyria, do not use wormwood since
thujone might amplify the production of porphyrins exacerbating your condition.
People suffering from epilepsy and kidney complications should not use wormwood products without the express authority of a medical doctor.
This is because thujone is known to trigger seizures and kidney failure and this may complicate the lives of people with epilepsy and kidney conditions.
The use of wormwood in aromatherapy is highly discouraged because thujone is a convulsant and a neurotoxin.
Equally, People who are on the medication used to prevent seizures (anticonvulsants) should not use it as it may interact with those medications.
Although it has been used to make alcoholic drinks more intoxicating and to give them a great flavor, wormwood has numerous health benefits.
As noted above, the herb has many beneficial active compounds such as ascorbic acid, carotenoids, flavonoids, etc.
It can be used as an antithesis for cellular damage, helps fight back premature aging and treats certain diseases.
Nevertheless, it is considered unsafe when taken in large quantities and should, therefore, only be used with direct consultation
with a health professional.
Be sure to carefully read and follow relevant directions on product labels before using them.