Wormwood, absinthium, green ginger, absinthe, old woman, southernwood
Eurasia and North Africa
Leaves, or flowering tops
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.
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 optimise 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, have been shown to provide broad-spectrum coverage against the types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.
Worms - especially roundworms and pinworms are effectively neutralised by Wormwood. General parasitic infections are commonly treated with Wormwood, Black Walnut and Clove - these three herbs taken together are said to break the life cycle of the parasite, thus killing off the infection.
Wormwood contains the phytochemicals "azulenes", compounds which 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.
1-4 ml of Wormwood tincture may be taken upto 3 x per day for a limited amount of time - not more than 4 - 5 weeks.
Although its name is commonly thought to come from this herb’s ability to kill intestinal parasites, "Wormwood" has been speculated to come from the Anglo Saxon word “wermode”, meaning “mind preserver”.
In the 16th century it was thought to counteract the poisonous effects of hemlock and toadstools. If ever bitten by a sea-dragon, Wormwood was a source of comfort to the victim!
It also makes an appearance in “Felter & Lloyd's Kings Dispensatory from 1898”, which quotes: “Wormwood possesses decided medicinal qualities, acting with considerable force upon the cerebrum and the sympathetic nervous system. It has been employed with success for the expulsion of intestinal parasites—such as ascaris vermicularis and lumbricoides”.
Do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Take only in small doses and for no more than 4-5 weeks at a stretch. Consult with a healthcare professional or doctor of herbal medicine. Not recommeded for children.