Wormwood (artemisia absinthium) is infamous for its bitter taste and being an ingredient in Absinthe. However, wormwood is also rich in medicinal and healing properties, and has been used to treat a variety of ailments throughout the ages. Tea, extracts, and oil are the most common forms that wormwood is found in.
What is Wormwood?
Wormwood is an herb that naturally grows in mild climates, such as Europe, North Africa, and Asia. It has a pleasant aroma but a mildly bitter taste. The leaves are a grayish-green and the herb can grow about three feet tall. Wormwood will also produce flowers in the summer; these flowers are sometimes harvested along with other parts of the plant.
Benefits of Wormwood
The use of wormwood goes all the way back to the Middle Ages and beyond. It was used as an effective insecticide and sprinkled on the floor or packages among clothes and textiles. This use can be applied in the modern era as an insect repellant inside the garden. Even more than an insecticide, it is also a powerful ingredient in many pharmacopeias.
Wormwood is effective in treating many digestive issues because the bitter taste of the herb causes the gallbladder to release bile, which addresses many digestive issues. This herb is also effective in reducing fever and helps treat liver dysfunction and jaundice. It can be applied topically to insect bites and other ailments to speed up healing and reduce inflammation.
Wormwood is also effective in treating worms within the body, particularly pinworms and roundworms. Herbalists believe that wormwood may even be effective in treating mild depression. Others use wormwood to assist with childbearing, muscle aches, and arthritis. Studies are beginning to link wormwood intake to a decrease in Celiac Disease and Crohn’s symptoms. An herbal combination including wormwood may also assist with irritable bowel syndrome and heartburn.
How to Use Wormwood
Because of its potency, wormwood is never used alone. Depending on the medicinal purpose sought, wormwood can be combined with peppermint, caraway extract, or more. When grown, harvested, and stored very carefully, dried wormwood can be used to make a tea.
To make wormwood tea, boil 2 cups of water and then remove from heat. Add 4 teaspoons of dried wormwood leaves or the flower tops to the water. Cover and allow the wormwood to be soaked in the boiling water. To use this effectively, drink while lukewarm on an empty stomach three times a day—morning noon and night. You may add a little maple syrup to sweeten as it is a bitter infusion. Alternatively, take two wormwood capsules two times a day to find relief from problems on an alternating basis.
Wormwood can also be used to keep pests and flies away. Smash a small amount of wormwood leaves into a mash and blend it with a small amount of apple cider vinegar. Next, place a small amount in a bandage cloth, and pull up the corners of the Gauze and tie shut. The skin can be wiped routinely with this mixture to ward off gnats, mosquitoes, horse flies, and other insects while outside. The mixture can also be applied externally on pets to keep pests off them.
Using wormwood for long periods of time and intensively can lead to an addiction, physical and corporal decline. It can also lead to nervosity, cramps, and restlessness. High doses may cause headaches and dizziness. Very high doses of this have psychoactive properties and a paralyzing effect. Overdosing on wormwood may cause unconsciousness, arbitrary stools, and even death. The wormwood tea should not be consumed for longer than three consecutive weeks.