Wormwood has perhaps gained the most notoriety for one of its active ingredients “absinthol”, used in the French spirit “Absinthe”. However, this potent herb has a long history of use stretching back into Ancient Greece and the time of Hippocrates. It was most commonly used for the expulsion of worms – hence the name Wormwood, although Hippocrates prescribed it for menstrual pains, jaundice, anaemia, and rheumatism.
Artemisia comes from the Greek word ἀρτεμισία, from Ἄρτεμις” (Artemis). In Greek mythology, Artemis was a goddess of the hunt and protector of the forest and children. The name absinthium comes from the Ancient Greek ἀψίνθιον, meaning the same.
Wormwood Health Benefits
Wormwood is a bitter herb affecting the bitter sensing tastebuds that send signals to the brain to stimulate the entire digestive system, (salivation, stomach acid production, intestinal tract movement). It also stimulates the release of bile from the liver, the storage of bile in the gallbladder, and other secretions from the intestinal glands, which will enhance the body’s ability to digest food. A common cause of weak digestion is too little stomach acid (not too much) – acid reflux is the result of weak stomach acid that is unable to properly digest food. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) production is stimulated by Wormwood, and it will optimize bowel flora whilst killing off dangerous organisms such as Helicobacter Pylori which can lead to duodenal ulcers if left untreated. It can also help the recovery from long term illness by improving the uptake of nutrients.
Recent evidence has also shown that Wormwood can be an effective treatment for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). One particular study found that 84% of IBS patients tested positive for SIBO. This bacterial overgrowth can break down the lining of your stomach leading to “Leaky Gut Syndrome”. Once the lining has been compromised it leaves the immune system exposed to foreign particles from food, bacteria, and other microbes. This can then trigger an immune response that will irritate the enteric nervous system, creating the havoc that can lead to IBS and many other problems. Wormwood, along with other anti-microbial herbs such as oregano and thyme, has been shown to provide broad-spectrum coverage against the types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.
Worms – especially roundworms and pinworms are effectively neutralized by Wormwood. General parasitic infections are commonly treated with Wormwood, Black Walnut, and Clove – these three herbs are taken together are said to break the life cycle of the parasite, thus killing off the infection.
Wormwood contains the phytochemicals “azulenes”, compounds that are proven to have powerful anti-inflammatory activity. Whilst inflammation is a necessary step in the healing process – persistent, low-level inflammation is at the root of practically all known chronic health conditions, including everything from rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol to dementia. This anti-inflammatory effect is responsible for the relief Wormwood can provide from the pain and swelling of arthritis.
Wormwood has demonstrated hepatoprotective effects in animal models by reducing oxidation and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing liver damage. It can also be used as part of a liver flush to clear out congestion in this important organ.
Uses and Precautions
Wormwood is most commonly used in the aforementioned alcoholic drink: Absinthe, among others such as vermouth, bitters or brewed in tea. The dried herb needs to be steeped in boiling water for 15 minutes for a potent serving.
Avoid this herb in any form during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid use in small children, especially those less than 6 years of age. Do not use wormwood if taking medication for seizures and avoid in patients who suffer nervous disorders.