wormwood ( Wormwood Artemisia listen)) is a bitter herb found in Eurasia, North Africa and North America. The plant has been used therapeutically since ancient times. In fact, the name “wormwood” comes from its traditional use as a way to cleanse the body of harmful organisms.
You may have heard of absinthe in conjunction with wormwood, the highly alcoholic green drink that became popular in the 19th century and was associated with famous (and often troubled) writers and artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Edgar. Allen Poe. Habitual abuse of the drink was thought to cause withdrawal, a highly publicized condition identified by hallucinations, insomnia, and other mental problems.
Thujone, one of the compounds found in absinthe, was once believed to be responsible for these negative effects, but modern scientific methods have challenged this idea. Traditionally produced absinthe can have an alcohol content of up to 80% (160 degrees!), and 19th century production standards were notoriously lax. It is more likely that absinthe was simply a fancy name for the effects of alcoholism combined with the toxins of impure production methods.
After nearly a century, the ban on the drink was lifted and absinthe is making a comeback. Absinthe is the most notorious use of absinthe in alcoholic beverages, but it is not the only one. It is also used as a flavoring in vermouth and bitters.
Although I don’t recommend consuming it as a 160 degree alcohol, wormwood is a therapeutic herb and its use dates back to the early Roman era. Traditional Asian and European medicine uses it for a variety of purposes, including ridding the body of harmful organisms.
|Scientific name||Wormwood Artemisia|
|Origin||Eurasia and North Africa; Naturalized in Canada and the northern United States|
|Advantages||Cleaning up harmful organisms|
Wormwood and Pests
Pests are a serious health problem in all countries of the world, not just in developing countries. Organisms of all kinds can contaminate food and water, causing health problems in humans and animals.
Wormwood contains several compounds, including artemisinin, that are resistant to harmful organisms. These compounds create an environment that is actively hostile to pests and discourages them from thriving.
Pests are not only a concern for humans, but also affect livestock. And the cost of pharmaceutical drugs that attack harmful organisms is high.
Wormwood may offer potential as studies suggest the extract may be a natural way to eliminate intestinal invaders in certain types of livestock.
The benefits of wormwood are not limited to its effects on harmful organisms. It also contains compounds known to boost digestion by supporting liver and gallbladder function.
The benefit is amplified when combined with other digestive herbs such as peppermint or ginger. Wormwood also promotes healthy circulation and soothes irritation. Research also suggests it may even have neuroprotective properties.
Like many other plants, it is a concentrated source of antioxidants. Wormwood’s antioxidant activity supports its traditional use in Europe, which includes healing wounds. Animal studies have even shown that wormwood’s antioxidant action revitalizes enzyme activity that had been diminished by lead exposure.
Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study in which patients with digestive diseases were given a placebo or an herbal mixture containing wormwood for a period of ten weeks. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that patients taking the herbal blend reported improved mood and quality of life.
Side effects and precautions
While the notion of wormwood-induced absintheism has been debunked, the possibility remains that thujone, or another compound in wormwood, could have potentially toxic effects.
However, this is only true if it is consumed in absurdly high amounts, or if it interacts with medications or a pre-existing condition. In general, it is safe for most people. But, as a precaution, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid it. And, because of its potency, do not take wormwood essential oil internally.
Tips for Growing Absinthe
Fresh wormwood can be hard to find in stores, but you can easily grow it. Growing your own has the advantage of allowing you to control the quality of the weed. Wormwood grows well, even in less than ideal conditions. It grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, which means it can be grown almost anywhere. Once established, grass requires minimal maintenance.
Wormwood grows from seeds or seedlings. If you started from seed, plant indoors first and transfer outdoors after germination. Plant the seedlings after the last spring frost in full sun. This plant prefers dry soil. Water occasionally, but don’t overdo it. The plant is generally not susceptible to disease, but overwatering can lead to root rot.
Harvest wormwood in July or August on a dry day after the sun has evaporated all the moisture from the plant. To harvest, remove the upper green portion, leaving behind the lower stem portions and any damaged, discolored, or insect-eaten leaves.
plain absinthe tea
It goes without saying that absinthe is not the best way to incorporate absinthe into your diet. Its incredibly high alcohol content far outweighs any potential benefits of the herb. So with the green fairy on the table, what’s the best way to consume it?
A simple tea is a common and effective way to enjoy this herb. Absinthe is extremely bitter, so you’ll likely drink it for its therapeutic properties, not for casual enjoyment.
Simply put ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried wormwood leaves in a cup of hot, but not quite boiling, water. Leave to stand for 4 or 5 minutes and strain. Do not use more than 1 teaspoon per cup or let sit too long. Otherwise, the tea may become too bitter to drink. You can try sweetening the tea with stevia or raw organic honey, but this may only improve the flavor a little. You can also mix it with other infusions like mint or anise to enhance the flavor.
Here’s a tip: after cooling, use the wormwood leaves as a poultice. Simply apply to wounds, rashes or insect bites for natural relief.
Other sources of absinthe
If you can’t find wormwood leaves or just can’t take the flavor, then supplementation is your best option. Wormwood can be found as a standalone supplement or combined with other herbs.
One such product is Paratrex® from Global Healing. Paratrex is an all-natural blend of ingredients, including wormwood, formulated to support the cleansing of harmful organisms. It’s a pure, natural, high-quality supplement from a company you can trust. As always, consult your trusted healthcare professional before starting a new supplementation routine.
By Edward F Group. Articles in English