- How to Grow Wormwood in 5 Quick Steps
- Grey on Grey
- Wormwood and Harmful Organisms
- Additional Benefits of Wormwood
- Wormwood Side Effects and Precautions
- Tips for Growing Wormwood
- Simple Wormwood Tea
- Other Sources of Wormwood
- Artemisia ‘Wormwood’
- Artemisia ‘Wormwood’ Plants
- Wormwood Plants
- Buy Wormwood
- Clinical Overview
- Scientific Family
- Uses and Pharmacology
- Pregnancy / Lactation
- Adverse Reactions
- Further information
- More about wormwood
- how to identify and treat woodworm
- Wormwood Plant – Growing Sweet Annie
- How to Grow Wormwood Plant
- Growing Sweet Annie Plant
- Tips For Growing Wormwood In The Garden
- Wormwood Seeds – Absinthe Wormwood Herb Seed
- WormwoodBotanical Name: Artemisia absinthium
How to Grow Wormwood in 5 Quick Steps
Wormwood is a plant known for its ability to keep ants, mice, moths and flies away, due to its distinctive, bitter odor. The plant is tall, resembling a shrub, and has grey and green stems, its leaves wrapped in a spiral pattern around the tips. It is effective at keeping leaf damaging insects away from other plants in the garden, though its chemicals are harmful to certain species.
Step 1 – Sow the Seeds
Wormwood can be planted in the late winter and late summer months. If planting in the winter, make sure any frost danger has passed. As an alternative, you can plant wormwood seeds inside and move them outside once you are sure any threat of frost has disappeared. Sow the seeds into the soil – which should be covered with fine seed compost – going only about 2mm deep. Wormwood needs a lot of room to grow, and as the seeds are so tiny, you can plant more than you need. As the seedlings sprout, you can move the extras to pots or other areas of the garden or yard.
Step 2 – Allow Seeds to Germinate
Keep the soil lightly watered, but not overly wet, and do not cover the seeds. Wormwood needs light to germinate, and will take 2 to 4 weeks for seedlings to emerge. Once the plants have grown more than two leaves, separate them by 18 to 20 inches. Wormwood is a sizeable plant, and must have ample space to grow.
Step 3 – Transplant or Pot Plants
If you have planted more seeds than necessary, you can transplant them when they’re strong enough to be moved. Generally, this is after the first two leaves appear. If you want to grow wormwood in a pot, keep the pot in partial shade. Wormwood tolerates direct sunlight, but thrives best when it only receives a few hours a day.
Step 4 – Maintain Soil and Foliage
Wormwood is an easy to grow, adaptable plant that does not need overwatering. Make sure that the soil does not dry out during the hot weather – one a week should be sufficient. In the spring, cut wormwood back to allow fresh growth. In the winter, the plant is hardy enough to survive a frost, but the dead foliage must be cut when winter passes so the plant can start growing once more.
Step 5- Harvesting
You can start harvesting wormwood plants after they have been growing for at least two years. It is not advisable to harvest after only one year because the plants are not as strong or as potent as they will be after being allowed more time to mature. There are numerous uses for wormwood, the most common of these being as an ingredient in absinthe. You can also use the oil of the wormwood as an insect spray or antiseptic, and its upper stalks as a potpourri or sachet.
Grey on Grey
SERIES 29 | Episode 09
Sophie Thomson shows us her garden and how she has used silver-leafed plants, such as Artemisia, to advantage.
Artemisia is a diverse range of plants, many of which are grown for their silvery foliage. The light colour of their leaves reduces heat absorption and reflects the sun, making them ideal for hot areas and sunny spots. Many have hairy leaves that create their own humidity around their pores or stomates, which reduces water loss. The foliage adds interest to the garden, and silver acts as a wonderful foil against other colours too. They are hardy plants and useful backdrops for any sunny garden.
Tree wormwood (Artemisia arborescens) deserves a place in the modern garden despite being an old-fashioned favourite. It’s wind tolerant and drought hardy once established. Sophie gives hers a hard prune at the end of autumn and trims lightly as a hedge for the rest of the year.
Wormwood (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’) is used around the chicken house at Sophie’s Patch. It grows to about 1m x 1m in size. Wormwood is the traditional companion plant for chickens; as they peck it, the plant helps them cleanse themselves of internal parasites such as worms. You can also use the prunings in their nesting boxes to repel insects, such as mites.
Artemisia frigida is a low groundcover form of wormwood, growing as a neat, dense mound with upright grey-white flowers spikes to about 50cm high.
- Wormwood (Artenisia absinthium) is the plant many people think of when you say wormwood. It was used historically to make Absinthe – or the Green Fairy – a popular drink in France, Britain and the USA in the nineteenth century. It grew out of favour, as people became worried it had mental-health implications but studies have since shown that is no more dangerous than any other spirit and its now back in fashion.
Look after your Artemisia by cutting them back once a year. Be guided by the plants as they will often open up revealing their internal branching when they are ready for a ruthless cut back. Look for pieces that have layered – grown their own roots after touching the ground – to give away to friends or transplant elsewhere in the garden.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) 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 means to cleanse the body of harmful organisms.
|Wormwood Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name||Artemisia absinthium|
|Origin||Eurasia and North Africa; Naturalized in Canada and the Northern United States|
|Benefits||Harmful organism cleansing|
You may have heard wormwood mentioned in conjunction with absinthe, the green, highly alcoholic drink made popular during the 19th century and associated with famous (and often troubled) writers and artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, and Edgar Allan Poe. Habitual abuse of the drink was thought to cause absinthism, a much-hyped condition identified by hallucinations, sleeplessness, and other mental issues.
Thujone, one of the compounds found in wormwood, was believed to be responsible for these negative effects, but modern scientific methods have called this idea into question. Traditionally-produced absinthe may have an alcohol content up to 80% (160 proof!), and the production standards of the 19th century were notoriously lax. It’s more likely that absinthism was simply a fancy name for the effects of alcoholism combined with toxins from impure production methods.
After nearly a century, the prohibition of the drink was repealed and absinthe is enjoying a comeback. Absinthe is the most notorious use of wormwood in alcoholic beverages, but it’s not the only one. Wormwood is also used as a flavoring in vermouth and bitters.
Although I don’t recommend consuming wormwood in the form of 160 proof alcohol, wormwood is a therapeutic herb and its use extends as far back as the early Roman era. Traditional Asian and European medicine use wormwood and its extracts for a variety of purposes, including ridding the body of harmful organisms.
Wormwood and Harmful Organisms
Harmful organisms are a serious health concern in every country in the world, not only developing countries. Organisms of all sorts can contaminate food and water, causing health concerns in both people and animals. Wormwood contains several compounds, most notably artemisinin, that are resistant to harmful organisms. These compounds create an environment that is actively hostile to harmful organisms and discourages them from thriving.
Harmful organisms are not only a concern for humans, but they also affect livestock, too. And, the cost of pharmaceutical drugs that target harmful organisms is high. Wormwood may offer potential as studies suggest that wormwood extract may be a natural way to eliminate intestinal invaders in some types of livestock.
Additional Benefits of Wormwood
The benefits of wormwood are not limited to its effects on harmful organisms. Wormwood also contains compounds known to stimulate digestion by supporting liver and gallbladder function. The benefit is magnified when combined with other digestive herbs such as peppermint or ginger. Wormwood also supports healthy circulation and soothes irritation. Research also suggests that wormwood may even have neuroprotective properties.
Like many other plants, wormwood is a concentrated source of antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of wormwood supports its traditional use in Europe, which includes wound healing. Animal studies have even observed wormwood’s antioxidant action revitalize enzyme activity that had been decreased by lead exposure.
The Yale University School of Medicine performed a study in which patients with digestive ailments were given either a placebo or an herbal blend containing wormwood for a ten-week period. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study observed that the patients who took the herbal blend reported improved mood and quality of life.
Wormwood Side Effects and Precautions
While the notion of wormwood-induced absinthism has been discredited, the possibility remains that thujone, or some other compound within wormwood, could have potentially toxic effects. However, this is only true if consumed in absurdly high quantities, or if it interacts with medications or a preexisting condition. In general, wormwood is safe for most people. But, as a precaution, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid wormwood. And, due to its potency, don’t take the essential oil of wormwood internally.
Tips for Growing Wormwood
Fresh wormwood can be hard to find in stores, but you can easily grow your own. Growing your own has the bonus of allowing you to control the quality of the herb. Wormwood grows well, even in less-than-ideal conditions. It grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9, which means that it can be grown almost anywhere in the United States. Once established, the herb requires minimal maintenance.
Wormwood grows from either seeds or seedlings. If started from seeds, plant indoors first and transfer outside after sprouting. Plant seedlings after the last frost in spring in full sun. Wormwood prefers dry soil. Water occasionally, but don’t overdo it. Wormwood is not typically vulnerable 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 on the plant. To harvest, remove the upper green portion, leaving behind any lower stem parts and all insect-eaten, discolored, or damaged leaves.
Simple Wormwood Tea
I shouldn’t need to say that absinthe is not the best way to incorporate wormwood into your diet. Its staggeringly high alcohol content more than cancels out any possible benefit of the herb. So, with the green fairy off the table, what’s the best way to consume wormwood?
A simple tea is a common and effective way to take advantage of this herb. Wormwood is extremely bitter, so you’ll probably drink this for its therapeutic properties, not casual enjoyment.
Simply put ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried wormwood leaves in a cup of hot, but not quite boiling, water. Steep for 4 or 5 minutes and strain. Don’t use more than a teaspoon per cup or let it steep for too long. Otherwise, the tea may become too bitter to drink. You can attempt to sweeten the tea with stevia or raw organic honey, but you may find it only improves the flavor a little bit. You can also blend it with other herbal teas like peppermint or anise to improve the flavor.
Here’s a tip — after they cool, use the wormwood leaves as a poultice. Simply apply to wounds, rashes, or insect bites for natural relief.
Other Sources of Wormwood
If you can’t find wormwood leaves or if you just can’t take the taste, then supplementation is your next best option. Wormwood can be found as a standalone supplement or combined with other botanicals. One such product is Global Healing Center’s own Paratrex®. Paratrex is a blend of all-natural ingredients, including wormwood, formulated to promote the cleansing of harmful organisms. It’s a pure, natural, high-quality supplement from a company you can trust. As always, consult your trusted health care practitioner before starting a new supplement routine.
Do you have experience with wormwood? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
Until very recently (2007) the alcoholic drink Absinthe was banned from being sold in the United States. This is the notorious plant from which its purported effects are derived! In fact, there is little evidence that any of its components have hallucinogenic properties except in exceedingly high doses (not recommended) & is important to the drink mostly as a flavoring. A greatly useful foliage accent, it’s good in dry, unamended soil with little water after it is established & the dissected silver leaves are lovely & deer proof. “Wormwood” hosts beneficial insects & its roots secrete weed-inhibitors. What a thoughtful plant! Growing to 3’ high & wide, it can be pruned back to the base for fresh growth.
Due to Agricultural Restrictions we cannot ship this plant to Colorado, North Dakota & Washington
Note: Can be invasive where soil is disturbed, so consideration should be given to its use in your area. Not listed as invasive in CA, but may be best grown in a large container or planter box.
Artemisia ‘Wormwood’ Plants
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
This herb, with its lovely ferny gray-green leaves and delicate growing habit is a perfect addition to the garden. It really works to tie together other plants, a backdrop of lovely color and texture. Easy to grow, and is deer resistant!
Wormwood plants are a bushy, woody-based perennial or sub shrub which is grown for its aromatic silvery foliage. It rarely flowers. Foliage is finely divided and feathery in appearance. Typically grows in a shrubby mound to 2-3′ tall and as wide, but spreads by underground rhizomes and may reach 3-6′ wide if not restrained. Wormwoodgrows best in poor to moderately fertile, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Soil must be drained for this plant to grow well. Plant stems tend to fall in the summer, especially if grown in fertile soils and/or part shade. General foliage decline often occurs in high humidity summer climates. Prune artemesia plants in spring to control growth, but be careful to leave sufficient numbers of live buds on each stem to facilitate bushy growth. Never prune stems to the ground. Foliage may also be lightly sheared in summer to shape, but avoid pruning in fall.
A key ingredient in absinthe. Although give a ‘dark reputation’ due to its reported dangers, according to Amy Stewart in her New York Times bestseller, The Drunken Botanist, those rumors are greatly exaggerated: ‘The stories of absinthe causing hallucinations and wild behavior among France’s bohemian set in he late nineteenth century are mostly false; perhaps this was caused by the extraordinarily high alcohol content in absinthe … 70 to 80 percent ABV, making it twice as alcoholic as gin or vodka.”
Wormwood is used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood is also used to treat fever, liver disease, and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating. Some people apply wormwood directly to the skin for healing wounds and insect bites. Wormwood oil is used as a counter irritant to reduce pain. However, we STRONGLY suggest that you consult with a physician before using this herb medicinally.
The name derives from its use to expel roundworms and threadworms, although habitual use can cause convulsions.
Remember to drain soil properly. The plant tends to open up in summer and can be susceptible to root rot in moist soils, particularly poorly drained ones.
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Wormwood is native to Eurasia and northern Africa, but it can be easily grown in rich,
mid-weight soil under bright exposure. Wormwood is derived from a plant known as Artemisia Absinthium, and commonly referred to as absinthium, absinthe wormwood, common wormwood, green ginger and grand wormwood. Wormwood has a distinctive odor and the plant itself has been used as a vermifuge and to repel pests. In the past wormwood was used to flavor certain wines and spirits, and in the middle ages it was even used in place of hops in beer.
When ordering Wormwood you agree to our disclaimer. When buying Wormwood products from Herb Stomp, you agree that you are at least 18 years old. Avoid use if pregnant or lactating. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information provided is for educational purposes only.
Another in our series of articles about items with similar names to woodworm. (Read more of these woodworm posts).
Wormwood is the common name given to Artemisia Absinthium – and with a name like that you can see why it’s commonly called Wormwood instead!
Artemisia Absinthium is a plant that’s aromatic oil is used to make the drink absinthe (which is why absinthe is sometimes called The Great Wormwood). Absinthe actually contains extracts from many different plants, though Artemisia is one of the main ingredients of the drink.
Wormwood was originally native to Europe but can now be found all around the world, it is part of the daisy family and when fully matured it develops small yellowish flower heads. Wormwood can grow between 30 and 90 cm’s depending on its climate.
The Power of the Wormwood Plant
Wormwood has been known for a very long time for its powerful healing properties. This healing property comes from the plants aromatic leaves and flowers. These are naturally rich in terpene thujone – which is an aromatic substance that many believe increases a person’s alertness.
Others also believe it increases a person’s creativeness and inspiration, a belief that has gained additional credibility due to the fact that a number of well-known drinkers of Absinthe were writers, poets or painters.
The plant was, however, long held to hold medicinal properties even before it was first used to make Absinthe (Absinthe was first made in 1792). The potentially potent effects of Wormwood had been catalogued by people since 1600 B.C.
Wormwood has a varied history. The Egyptians used it as an antiseptic and a tonic. Its medical properties were also used as a remedy for fevers and menstrual pains. In ancient Greece it was similarly used because of its medical properties, where it was also prescribed for ailments like rheumatism and again for menstrual pains.
During the Middle Ages, Wormwood was used as a means to exterminate tapeworm infestations, while the Romans used wormwood to ease digestion and as a treatment for the everyday upset stomach.
Today Bedouin Africans sell Wormwood in the Cairo market as a remedy for ill health. The Bedouin Africans also burn Wormwood leaves to use it as an incense around their new born children. This is because it is believed to give the child a life of good health.
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 12, 2019.
Wormwood was traditionally used to treat worm infestations, although no clinical data support this use. Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and chemotherapeutic activity are documented in nonhuman studies. Initial studies suggest that wormwood may improve Crohn disease symptoms, but information regarding the plant’s use in immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy is limited. In Germany, woodworm is used to treat loss of appetite, dyspepsia, and biliary dyskinesia. Wormwood is also used as a flavoring agent.
Wormwood is commercially available as an essential oil, as well as in capsule, tablet, tincture, and aqueous extract dosage forms. However, no recent clinical evidence supports dosing recommendations. Traditional use of the herb for treating dyspepsia was dosed as an infusion of 2 to 3 g daily.
Avoid use with hypersensitivity to any of the components of wormwood, particularly the essential oil. It may be contraindicated in patients with an underlying defect of hepatic heme synthesis, because thujone is a porphyrogenic terpenoid.
Avoid use. Documented abortifacient and emmenagogue effects.
A single case report suggests that wormwood may increase the international normalized ratio (INR) with warfarin.
The volatile oil thujone in wormwood produces a state of excitement and is a powerful convulsant. Repeated ingestion of wormwood may result in absinthism, a syndrome characterized by digestive disorders, thirst, restlessness, vertigo, trembling of the limbs, numbness of the extremities, loss of intellect, delirium, paralysis, and death.
Wormwood is classified as an unsafe herb by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the neurotoxic potential of thujone and its derivatives; it is generally regarded as safe if it is thujone free. The safety of wormwood is poorly documented despite its long history as a food additive. Convulsions, dermatitis, and renal failure have been reported.
- Asteraceae (daisy)
Wormwood is an odorous, perennial shrub native to Europe and naturalized in the northeastern, central, and northwestern United States. Its aromatic leaves have a strong sage odor and bitter taste, and its multibranched stems are covered with fine, silky hairs. The plant has a fibrous root system and grows to about 1.2 m tall. Its small flowers, which bloom July through August, are green to yellow and arranged in large, spikelike panicles. The deeply lobed leaves are grayish-green in color. Leaves and small stems no thicker than 4 mm are used medicinally.1, 2, 3, 4
The name “wormwood” is derived from ancient use of the plant and its extracts as an intestinal anthelmintic. In Pakistan’s indigenous medicinal systems, the leaves and flowering tops are used as an anthelmintic, antiseptic, febrifuge, and stomachic, and to alleviate chronic fever, dyspepsia, and hepatobiliary ailments. An ethobotanical study in Turkey documented the plant’s use as an abortifacient, as a blood depurative, and in treating stomachaches. Caribbean folk medicine documents wormwood use for menstrual pain, vaginitis, and other unspecified female complaints.5 Extracts of the plant are used as a bitter seasoning for food and added to drinks such as beer, tea, or coffee, and it has also been used as an appetizer.6 In western European traditional herbal medicine, wormwood was recommended for gastric pain and cardiac stimulation, and to restore declining mental function. French and Spanish New Mexicans used the plant species along with other plants as an emmenagogue.5 In traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners treated acute bacillary dysentery by applying fresh and dried absinthium. A poultice of the plant has been used medicinally for tendon inflammation, and wormwood tea was used traditionally as a diaphoretic.7, 8, 9, 10
Wormwood extract is the main ingredient in absinthe, a toxic liquor that induces absinthism, a syndrome characterized by addiction, GI problems, auditory and visual hallucinations, epilepsy, brain damage, and increased risk of psychiatric illness and suicide. The drink has been banned in several countries, but in the 19th century, absinthe-based liquor was believed to have aphrodisiac and healing properties and was also reputed to stimulate creativity. The emerald-green color of absinthe liquor came from chlorophyll; however, copper and antimony salts were reportedly added as colorants to inferior batches, resulting in toxic consequences. Thujone-free wormwood extract is used as a flavoring, primarily in alcoholic beverages such as vermouth.2, 11, 12
The medicinal or active components in wormwood are the essential oils, anabsinthin, absinthin, resins, and organic acids. The bitter taste is caused by the glucosides absinthin and anabsinthin, and several related compounds.2, 13
Lactones include arabsin, artabin, ketopelenolide, and others related to santonin.1 An important isolated flavonoid is 5,6,3′,5′-tetramethoxy 7,4′-hydroxyflavone (p7F).14
Many Artemisia species contain monoterpenoid thujone derivatives with toxic CNS effects. Wormwood typically contains small amounts of thujone derivatives, including 0.2% (Z)-thujone and 0.5% (E)-thujone2, 15; however, the thujone content varies widely.16
The major components of wormwood oil include chamazulene (18%), nuciferol butanoate (8%), nuciferol propionate (5%), and caryophyllene oxide (4%). The essential oils also contain a large amount of aromatic compounds (41%) and a low level of oxygenated monoterpenes (24%). The plant contains a pleasant-smelling volatile oil (about 1% to 2% by weight), as well as phellandrene, pinene, azulene, and more than 6 other minor components.11 Flowers may contain oil composed of up to 35% thujones. cis- and trans-epoxycymenes account for up to 57% of the volatile oil derived from Italian absinthium. The herb is standardized based on absinthin.1, 4, 11, 16
Wormwood contains trace amounts of thymol and carvacrol, as well as other phenolic compounds with potent antioxidant and free radical-scavenging activity.15
Uses and Pharmacology
Scientific literature contains mostly phytochemical, ethnopharmacological, and ethnobotanical investigations, with little clinical investigation of wormwood.
The anthelmintic activity of the plant is thought to be caused by lactones related to santonin, which is found in wormseed and other species of Artemisia. In addition, thujone can stun roundworms, which can then be expelled by normal intestinal peristalsis.1, 11
A study of plants in central Italy reported veterinary use of the plant as an anthelmintic for cows.17
An ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological study documented the use of wormwood for treating intestinal worms in Dominica, West Indies.18
In vitro data
The essential oils distilled from the aerial parts of A. absinthium inhibited the growth of Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. chevalieri.19
Thujone oils are recognized as the active constituents affecting microbial growth.16
The essential oils of wormwood have antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, C. albicans, and Aspergillus niger. The activity was comparable with that of erythromycin.16
Hexane-, chloroform-, and water-soluble extracts of A. absinthium exhibited antipyretic activity against subcutaneous yeast injections in rabbits. No toxic effects were documented for the plant extract at doses up to 1.6 g/kg.20
In Germany, a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examined the efficacy of SedaCrohn, an herbal supplement containing A. absinthium, 500 mg 3 times per day in 40 patients with Crohn disease.4 The study had 2 phases: a 10-week double-blind phase during which wormwood was administered and corticosteroid doses were tapered, and a 10-week observational phase after discontinuation of wormwood, in which corticosteroids were restarted as needed. The study enrolled stable patients treated with corticosteroids. Treatment with 5-aminosalicylates, azathioprine, and methotrexate was allowed, but the study excluded patients treated with a tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha inhibitor.21 The study enrolled patients with a score of 170 or more on the Crohn Disease Activity Index (CDAI). Outcomes of the study included clinical improvement on the CDAI and Hamilton Depression scale (HAM-D). In the first phase of the study, 90% of patients treated with wormwood had an improvement in CDAI scores despite corticosteroid tapering, while CDAI scores increased in placebo-treated patients. At week 10, almost complete remission of Crohn disease symptoms was reported in 65% of patients treated with wormwood, compared with 0% with placebo. In the second phase of the study, it was necessary to restart corticosteroids in 10% of patients treated with wormwood, compared with 80% of patients treated with placebo. At week 10, HAM-D scores decreased by 9.8 ± 5.8 points with wormwood and 3.4 ± 6.6 points with placebo. A HAM-D score less than 10 was achieved by 70% of patients treated with wormwood, compared with 0% treated with placebo. No patients discontinued treatment early in this study. The study did not report adverse effect data.
A second German, multicenter, open-label trial randomized 20 patients with Crohn disease to receive SedaCrohn 750 mg 3 times per day or placebo for 6 weeks. The study included stable patients treated with a 5-aminosalicylate, azathioprine, or methotrexate, but excluded patients treated with a TNF-alpha inhibitor. Enrolled patients had a CDAI score of 200 or more. Outcomes included changes in TNF-alpha levels and clinical improvement on the CDAI and HAM-D. TNF-alpha levels decreased substantially in patients receiving wormwood (24.5 ± 3.5 pg/mL at baseline vs 8 ± 2.5 pg/mL at week 6) but did not appreciably change in patients receiving placebo (25.7 ± 4.6 pg/mL at baseline vs 21.1 ± 3.2 pg/mL at week 6). The mean CDAI score dropped in patients receiving wormwood (275 ± 15 at baseline vs 175 ± 12 at week 6) but did not decrease substantially in patients receiving placebo (282 ± 11 at baseline vs 260 ± 14 at week 6). The CDAI score dropped below 150 in 6 patients treated with wormwood. The mean HAM-D score decreased by 9.8 ± 5.8 points with wormwood compared with 3.4 ± 6.6 points with placebo. No patients discontinued treatment early in this study and no “out of the line” adverse effects were attributed to wormwood.
A meta-analysis identified 7 placebo-controlled clinical trials that evaluated the efficacy and tolerability of herbal medicines in inflammatory bowel disease. Based on 2 studies (n = 60) evaluating A. absinthium in patients with Crohn disease, a significant result was identified for induction of clinical remission (relative risk, 27).41
In an uncontrolled pilot study, 10 patients with biopsy-proven IgA nephropathy were given SedaLeukin, a thujone-free wormwood preparation, 1.8 g/day for 6 months.22 Wormwood was evaluated because it may reduce TNF-alpha activity. Patients had normal renal function and protein excretion between 500 and 3,500 mg/day, despite treatment with ramipril and valsartan. Renal function and blood pressure were compared with baseline values. The urine protein-creatinine ratio decreased significantly from 2,340 ± 530 mg/g to 315 ± 200 mg/g (P < 0.001). Estimated glomerular filtration rate and endogenous creatinine clearance did not change during the study. Mean blood pressure dropped from 120.5 ± 8.6/83 ± 4.8 mm Hg at baseline to 108 ± 9/71 ± 7.7 mm Hg (P < 0.002). Wormwood was well tolerated; no patients dropped out of the study due to adverse effects.
pF7, a flavonoid isolated from A. absinthium, had antioxidant activity and inhibited nuclear factor kappa B (NF-KB) activation. The regulatory functions of pF7 were examined on the production of nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), and TNF-alpha, and the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and collagen-induced arthritis. The production of COX-2, PGE2, iNOS, and NO in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells was inhibited by pF7. pF7 also suppressed TNF-alpha activity and inhibited NF-KB.14
In vitro, an extract of the plant protected human erythrocytes against hypotonic shock.23
Extracts of the plant reduced the volume of gastric juice, acid output, and peptic activity in ulcerated rats.24
A. absinthium has been studied for cognitive enhancement because of its nicotinic and muscarinic cholinergic receptor activity (concentration that inhibits 50% of less than 1 mg/mL) in homogenates of human cerebral cortical membranes.25 The intoxicating effects of thujone were believed to activate receptors responsible for marijuana intoxication; however, thujone exhibited low affinity for rat cannabinoid receptors.26 Methanol extracts of A. absinthium enhanced neurite outgrowth induced by nerve growth factor and pheochromocytoma 12D cells.27
Wormwood is commercially available as an essential oil, as well as in capsule, tablet, tincture, and aqueous extract dosage forms. However, no clinical evidence supports dosing recommendations. Traditional use of the herb for treating dyspepsia was dosed as an infusion of 2 to 3 g daily.28
Pregnancy / Lactation
Avoid use because of documented abortifacient and emmenagogue effects.29, 30
Wormwood has hepatoprotective action against acetaminophen and carbon tetrachloride–induced liver toxicity in rats and mice. The mechanism of action was associated with inhibition of hepatic microsomal drug metabolizing enzymes, antioxidant activity, and/or blocking calcium channels.7
Theoretically, the plant may affect the efficacy of antacids, histamine-receptor antagonists, proton pump inhibitors, and sucralfate.31
The thujones in wormwood may reduce the clinical efficacy of phenobarbital by lowering the seizure threshold.32
A case report describes a probable interaction between wormwood and warfarin.33 An 82-year-old woman treated with warfarin for atrial fibrillation was hospitalized with GI bleeding and an extremely high INR after consumption of wormwood. The Naranjo adverse reaction probability scale score was 6, suggesting a probable relationship between ingestion of wormwood and a high INR with warfarin.
Thujone produces a state of excitement and is a powerful convulsant. Ingestion of wormwood may lead to absinthism, a syndrome characterized by digestive disorders, thirst, restlessness, vertigo, trembling of the limbs, numbness of the extremities, loss of intellect, delirium, paralysis, and death.2, 29
Data collected between 2004 and 2013 among 8 US centers in the Drug-induced Liver Injury Network revealed 15.5% (130) of hepatotoxicity cases was caused by herbals and dietary supplements whereas 85% (709) were related to medications. Of the 130 related cases of liver injury related to supplements, 65% were from non-bodybuilding supplements and occurred most often in Hispanic/Latinos compared to non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks. Liver transplant was also more frequent with toxicity from non-bodybuilding supplements (13%) than with conventional medications (3%) (P<0.001). Overall, the number of severe liver injury cases was significantly higher from supplements than conventional medications (P=0.02). Of the 217 supplement products implicated in liver injury, wormwood was among the 22% (116) of the single-ingredient products.42
Avoid use with hypersensitivity to any of the components of wormwood, particularly the essential oil. Wormwood may be contraindicated in patients with an underlying defect with hepatic heme synthesis because thujone is a porphyrogenic terpenoid.31, 34
Wormwood is classified as an unsafe herb by the FDA because of the neurotoxic potential of thujone and its derivatives; it is generally regarded as safe if it is thujone free.35 Few studies document the safety of wormwood despite its long history of use as a food additive.36
In a 13-week dose-toxicity study, convulsions were observed in rats given thujone in concentrations as low as 25 mg/kg/day. An increase in mortality was shown in rats given 50 mg/kg/day.37 Other studies document a dose of 120 mg/kg as fatal, including a subcutaneous median lethal dose of thujone in mice as 134 mg/kg.12, 17, 38 A 31-year-old man suffered convulsions after drinking 10 mL of wormwood essential oil.39
Wormwood oil is used as an ingredient in rubefacient preparations; the flowers may induce topical eruptions in sensitized individuals.3, 40
Rhabdomyolysis and renal failure
A 31-year-old man suffered convulsions after drinking 10 mL of wormwood essential oil. The patient mistook the essential oil as absinthe liquor and consumed the 10 mL full strength. The seizure was believed to be caused by the wormwood essential oil, which also led to rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, and congestive heart failure. The patient recovered, and laboratory parameters returned to normal after 17 days.39
1. Leung AY. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. New York, NY: J. Wiley and Sons; 1980.2. Gambelunghe C, Melai P. Absinthe: enjoying a new popularity among young people? Forensic Sci Int. 2002;130(2-3):183-186.124776413. Watson LE, Bates PL, Evans TM, Unwin MM, Estes JR. Molecular phylogeny of Subtribe Artemisiinae (Asteraceae), including Artemisia and its allied and segregate genera. BMC Evol Biol. 2002;2:17.123502344. Omer B, Krebs S, Omer H, Noor TO. Steroid-sparing effect of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) in Crohn’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Phytomedicine. 2007;14(2-3):87-95.172401305. Lans C. Ethnomedicines used in Trinidad and Tobago for reproductive problems. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2007;3:13.173625076. Kültür S. Medicinal plants used in Kirklareli Province (Turkey). J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;111(2):341-364.172577917. Gilani AH, Janbaz KH. Preventive and curative effects of Artemisia absinthium on acetaminophen and CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity. Gen Pharmacol. 1995;26(2):309-315.75900798. Zhang W, Luo S, Fang F, et al. Total synthesis of absinthin. J Am Chem Soc. 2005;127(1):18-19.156314279. Guarrera PM. Traditional phytotherapy in central Italy (Marche, Abruzzo, and Latium). Fitoterapia. 2005;76(1):1-25.1566445710. Muto T, Watanabe T, Okamura M, Moto M, Kashida Y, Mitsumori K. Thirteen-week repeated dose toxicity study of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) extract in rats. J Toxicol Sci. 2003;28(5):471-478.1474635011. Arnold WN. Absinthe. Sci Am. 1989;260(6):112-117.265804412. Lachenmeier DW, Emmert J, Kuballa T, Sartor G. Thujone—cause of absinthism? Forensic Sci Int. 2006;158(1):1-8.1589693513. Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal. Philadelphia, PA: GF Stickley Co; 1987.14. Lee HG, Kim H, Oh WK, et al. Tetramethoxy hydroxyflavone p7F downregulates inflammatory mediators via the inhibition of nuclear factor kappaB. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004;1030:555-568.1565983815. Kordali S, Cakir A, Mavi A, Kilic H, Yildirim A. Screening of chemical composition and antifungal and antioxidant activities of the essential oils from three Turkish Artemisia species. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(5):1408-1416.1574001516. Blagojević P, Radulović N, Palić R, Stojanović G. Chemical composition of the essential oils of Serbian wild-growing Artemisia absinthium and Artemisia vulgaris. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(13);4780-4789.1678702817. Guarrera PM. Traditional antihelmintic, antiparasitic and repellent uses of plants in central Italy. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68(1-3):183-192.1062487718. Quinlan MB, Quinlan RJ, Nolan JM. Ethnophysiology and herbal treatments of intestinal worms in Dominica, West Indies. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;80(1):75-83.1189108919. Juteau F, Jerkovic I, Masotti V, et al. Composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium from Croatia and France. Planta Med. 2003;69(2):158-161.1262482320. Khattak SG, Gilani SN, Ikram M. Antipyretic studies on some indigenous Pakistani medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 1985;14(1):45-51.387891621. Krebs S, Omer TN, Omer B. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) suppresses tumour necrosis factor alpha and accelerates healing in patients with Crohn’s disease—A controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(5):305-309.1996229122. Krebs S, Omer B, Omer TN, Fliser D. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) for poorly responsive early-stage IgA nephropathy: a pilot uncontrolled trial. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010;56(6):1095-1099.2084359223. de Freitas MV, Netto Rde C, da Costa Huss JC, et al. Influence of aqueous crude extracts of medicinal plants on the osmotic stability of human erythrocytes. Toxicol In Vitro. 2008;22(1):219-224.1785504724. Shafi N, Khan GA, Ghauri EG. Antiulcer effect of Artemisia absinthium L. in rats. Pakistan J Sci Ind Res. 2004;47(2):130-134.25. Wake G, Court J, Pickering A, Lewis R, Wilkins R, Perry E. CNS acetylcholine receptor activity in European medicinal plants traditionally used to improve failing memory. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;69(2):105-114.1068786726. Meschler JP, Howlett AC. Thujone exhibits low affinity for cannabinoid receptors but fails to evoke cannabimimetic responses. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999;62(3):473-480.1008023927. Li Y, Ohizumi Y. Search for constituents with neurotrophic factor-potentiating activity from the medicinal plants of Paraguay and Thailand. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2004;124(7):417-424.1523522528. Heilpflanzen-Welt Bibliothek. Phytotherapeutic Monographs (BGA, Commission E, Germany): Wormwood (Absinthii herba). http://buecher.heilpflanzen-welt.de/BGA-Commission-E-Monographs/0379.htm. Updated August 2013. Accessed September 28, 2013.29. Brinker FJ. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications; 1998.30. Ernst E. Herbal medicinal products during pregnancy: are they safe? BJOG. 2002;109(3):227-235.1195017631. Skyles AJ, Sweet BV. Alternative therapies. Wormwood. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2004;61(3):239-242.1498655332. Miller LG. Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on known or potential drug-herb interactions. Arch Intern Med. 1998;158(20):2200-2211.981880033. Açιkgöz SK, Açιkgöz E. Gastrointestinal bleeding secondary to interaction of Artemisia absinthium with warfarin. Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2013;28(3):187-189.2377055934. Bonkovsky HL, Cable EE, Cable JW, et al. Porphyrogenic properties of the terpenes camphor, pinene, and thujone (with a note on historic implications for absinthe and the illness of Vincent van Gogh). Biochem Pharmacol. 1992;43(11):2359-2368.161040135. Food and Drug Administration. GRAS list. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?cfrpart=172&showfr=1. Updated June 1, 2013. Accessed November 27, 2013.36. Weisbord SD, Soule JB, Kimmel PL. Poison on line—acute renal failure caused by oil of wormwood purchased through the Internet . N Engl J Med. 1997;337(12):825-827.929711337. Logarto Parra A, Silva Yhebra R, Guerra Sardinas I, Iglesias Buela L. Comparative study of the assay of Artemia salina L. and the estimate of the medium lethal dose (LD50 value) in mice, to determine oral acute toxicity of plant extracts. Phytomedicine. 2001;8(5):395-400.1169588438. Windholz M, Budavari S, Blumetti RF, Otterbein ES, eds. The Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals. 10th ed. Rahway, NJ: Merck & Co; 1983.39. Arnold WN. Vincent van Gogh and the thujone connection. JAMA. 1988;260(20):3042-3044.305418540. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1985.41. Rahimi R, Nikfar S, Abdollahi M. Induction of clinical response and remission of inflammatory bowel disease by use of herbal medicines: a meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol. 2013;19(34):5738-5749.2403937042. Navarro VJ, Barnhart H, Bonkovsky HL, et al. Liver injury from herbals and dietary supplements in the U.S. drug-induced liver injury network. Hepatology. 2014;60(4):1399-1408.25043597
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how to identify and treat woodworm
In most cases treatment of Common Furniture Beetle is fairly straightforward. Any structurally-weakened timber should be removed and replaced with pre-treated timber and the rest treated with a Boron-based preservatives.
How to treat woodworm?
- A safe and very effective treatment to apply that has no effect on other insects or mammals (Remember Bats are a protected species) are the Boron-based preservatives. It is applied as two coats by brushing or spraying and soaks quickly into the timber. It is permanent and some brands have no vapour or smell.
- There are two other types of Wood worm and with some treatments it may be necessary to identify the exact species. The stuff I use, kills all wood burrowing insects so identifying the exact species of woodworm is not necessary.
- It also treats timber affected by both, wet and damp Rot.
- Pet birds and fish are not at risk from Boron-based preservatives, but are from Permethrin based products, (The preservatives sold in most Diy stores are Permethrin based) if you keep pets, particularly fish, Permethrin is lethal to fish even in minute quantities.
- Read the label and consult an expert if you are not sure how to treat the infected area.
Wormwood Plant – Growing Sweet Annie
There are many varieties of Artemisia, also known as mugwort and wormwood plant. One of the most common varieties grown for its sweet-smelling, silvery foliage is sweet wormwood (A. annua) or sweet Annie plant. Growing sweet Annie and other wormwood plants is easy. They make interesting additions to nearly any garden as they’re quite adaptable and hardy plants. In fact, some varieties are even considered invasive if not kept properly maintained. Let’s look at how to grow wormwood plant in your garden.
How to Grow Wormwood Plant
Grow wormwood or sweet Annie plant in a sunny location and well-drained soil. This plant doesn’t like being overly wet. Wormwood is generally planted in spring. If starting plants from seeds, sow the small seeds in flats and set the seedlings out in the garden well after the last frost in spring.
Once established, wormwood plants require little care. In
addition to occasional watering, these plants can be fertilized once a year. Light pruning can be performed to help keep these plants from becoming unruly, especially the spreading varieties.
Wormwood plants are not typically affected by many disease problems, other than root rot from overly wet soil. Their scented foliage also deters many garden pests.
Growing Sweet Annie Plant
Sweet Annie is typically grown in the garden for its feathery, sweet-smelling foliage and yellow blooms, which are often used in floral decorations and wreaths. Although this variety is considered an annual, sweet Annie generally reseeds itself readily in the garden and in some cases, can become a nuisance. The feathery, fern-like foliage appears in spring and blooms in late summer. As sweet Annie takes up space in the garden, growing to about 2 feet tall, allow plenty of room for it in the garden.
Harvest sweet Annie plant just as its blooms begin to appear in late summer for use in floral arrangements or wreaths. When drying sweet Annie, place branches in small bundles and hang upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area for about two to three weeks or until dry.
When collecting seeds, cut the foliage to the ground (leave some plants remaining for self-seeding) and place in a paper bag. Allow to dry and then gently shake the seeds loose.
Growing sweet Annie plants, like all other wormwood varieties, is easy. These plants make great additions to many gardens and can even be grown in containers. Their attractive, sweet-smelling foliage provides year-round interest and also deters many common garden pests. Best of all, sweet Annie plants require little maintenance once established.
Tips For Growing Wormwood In The Garden
If Wormwood sounds familiar, it might be because of its curious mention in apocalyptic religious texts. But Wormwood is not some elusive, ancient symbol of the end of the world. Wormwood is real and it’s real good for you. A traditional, useful herb used throughout history, Wormwood is a must for any historic or herb garden. And, for the gardener who loves to feature something fascinating, functional and absolutely easy-to-grow, Wormwood is a particular treat.
Start With Seeds: Since most lawn and garden centers won’t be selling Wormwood starter plants, it’s best to start with seeds. Wormwood is the common name for herb varieties Artemisia vulgaris and Artemisis absinthium.
Yes, you read that right. Absinthium. As in that mysterious botanical beverage with a strange green hue and associated with even stranger effects upon consuming.
To get high quality seeds, skip purchasing “absinthe” seeds from unreputable merchants hoping to capitalize off the allure of the absinthe connection. Instead, opt for a reliable seed supplier with a reputation for consistently meeting the needs of avid gardeners with quality products.
When To Sow: As a perennial herb, Wormwood will develop a deep and complex root system. This is where nourishment is derived, keeping the plant thriving year after year. Seeds can be sown indoors or out. But note that Wormwood seeds are incredibly tiny. If sowing outdoors take care! Best germination temperature is about 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sowing Indoors: Time sowing seeds in starter pots about 6-8 weeks before last expected frost.
- Sowing Outdoors: Time sowing seeds directly on the surface of the soil when weather has warmed and all danger of frost has passed.
Sowing Depth: Because Wormwood seeds require light in order to germinate, they are sown on soil’s surface.
- Starter Pots: Scatter about 3-5 seeds on soil surface of starter pots left uncovered and placed so they will receive direct lighting.
- Direct Sowing: Scatter seeds in the outdoor area designated for your future Wormwood plant. Make sure that the area does not receive excessive shade.
What To Expect: Once seeds germinate, Wormwood will undergo a few changes as it grows into the fullness of maturity.
- Germination: Seeds will sprout as early as 7 days or take as long as 21 days. In other words, be patients with any seeds that seem to be taking their time.
- Thinning: There may come a time to thin out some of the seedlings. How do you know which to keep and which should go? After all, you don’t want to get stuck with a dud! Taller doesn’t necessarily mean better! In other words, if you have to choose between a tall, spindly fellow or a shorter one with foliage of a richer shade of green, by all means go with the short one. Dark green colors, well-shaped leaves, and an overall balanced appearance is the beginning of a strong Wormwood plant.
- Maturity: Eventually, Wormwood, if left to its natural behavior, will grow into a bush about 3-4 feet tall and a diameter of about 2 feet. With a silver tint to rich green leaves, it is an attractive addition to any garden. Well, almost. But we will get to that in a bit.
Maintenance: Wormwood prefers a bit of shade. Prime temperature is in the 70-77 degree Fahrenheit range. But Wormwood is generally rather hardy even if soil conditions are rather poor. Nevertheless, be kind to your Wormwood. Add a bit of compost to the soil, work it in well and toss in a bit of sand or other organic matter if you need to improve drainage. Although there is not much that can do harm to a vigorous Wormwood bush, too much water can cause root rot. So make sure that soil drains well.
Once established, Wormwood will be with you for a long time. It will wilt and disappear from the surface of your garden each Winter. Underground it is biding it’s time, waiting for Spring to arrive.
Be A Good Neighbor: As mentioned earlier, Wormwood is a great addition to any garden, almost. There are a few plants that will not consider Wormwood a good neighbor. Edible plants in the garden will absorb some of the natural chemical properties of Wormwood that are present in the soil. This will inhibit their growth. So take care with your arrangement.
- Good Neighbor Plants: Carrots, onions, leeks, rosemary and sage.
- Bad Neighbor Plants: Anise, caraway, and fennel.
Good-Bye Bugs: Wormwood is toxic to a variety of garden pests. If planted in strategic areas, an organic gardener will find Wormwood is very useful as a sentry, keeping away unwelcome guests such as:
- Cabbage loopers & cabbage maggots
- Flea beetles
- Tomato Hornworms
- Carrot fly
You may even see a decline in larger pests like mice. One very beneficial use of Wormwood is to brew up a batch of Wormwood tea and use it as a natural pesticide spray throughout an ornamental garden. But it shouldn’t be used on edible plants.
Take Care: Although Wormwood does have beneficial health uses, it is important to remember that, in essence, it is considered a poisonous plant. Practical precautions will prevent nasty side effects like headaches. Ingesting the plant directly can even cause convulsions or nerve damage. It also has an aroma that dogs find attractive. Keep pets and children safe by selecting an appropriate site in the garden for your Wormwood plant.
Harvesting: Once you have grown those tiny little seeds into a healthy, full Wormwood bush, what in the world do you do with it? Well, you harvest upper portions of healthy green growth. Leave behind the thicker, woody stems that will eventually push forth new growth.
Uses: Traditionally, Wormwood was used to make botanical spirits. In medical studies it has shown promise at destroying cancer cells, treating anorexia, alleviating insomnia and providing relief for digestive disorders. Ancient civilizations used it as a treatment for internal parasites. But here’s what a modern gardener can do with a bit of Wormwood greenery:
- Tea: Let 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh leaves steep in 1 cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. Too much green and too much time steeping will result in an already very bitter herb becoming absolutely too bitter to even sip. Sweeten with honey, add a dash of peppermint and use as relief for digestive upset or as a treatment for internal parasites. You may find it stimulates your appetite so enjoy before a meal.
- Poultice: Wormwood leaves make an effective treatment for wounds and rashes that result from insect bites or stings. Steep as you would for tea. Allow the leaves to cool. Then apply directly to the affected area for 10-15 minutes.
A Healthy Dose Of Poison: Wormwood has been fascinating the public for centuries. 19th century literature is filled with tales that romanticize the drink most often associated with Wormwood, absinthe. Although such stories are filled with the hype of hallucinations and strange mental disturbances, Wormwood is actually a very beneficial herb.
Societies all over the world still use the herb today to treat humans and animals, ridding them of harmful organisms. When used properly, people who once were affected with compromised liver and gall bladder function bounce back and thrive. The plant’s properties improve circulation and provide a rich dose of antioxidants. The important thing is to remember that a little bit goes a long way. Too much Wormwood is not a good thing. But a cup of tea every other day does a body good.
Wormwood Seeds – Absinthe Wormwood Herb Seed
USDA Zones: 3 – 8
Height: 24 – 36 inches
Bloom Season: Mid summer to early fall
Bloom Color: Yellow
Environment: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type: Poor, sandy, well-drained soils
Average Germ Time: 14 – 30 days
Light Required: Yes
Depth: Surface sow seeds
Sowing Rate: 10 – 12 seeds per plant
Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination
Plant Spacing: 18 – 24 inches
Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium) – Start Wormwood seeds for an attractive addition to the herb garden! It has finely-divided foliage that is gray-green in color and aromatic. In mid-summer, it produces many yellow flowers. Wormwood herb plants have a long history as a medicinal herb with use dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. They used Wormwood to rid the body of worms. It is still used to stimulate and aid in digestion. Other uses include being used as a moth repellant and a general pesticide. The Wormwood herb is also referred to as Grand Wormwood and Absinthe Wormwood.
It is a hardy herb plant that tolerates cold temperatures and poor soils. It thrives in partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Care must be taken to give it plenty of space from other herbs in the garden. Wormwood contains a chemical, absinthin, that can be toxic to other plants. For this reason, many herb gardeners prefer to grow it in a container. Water only when the soil has dried out. Cut back the dead foliage each spring to revive it and encourage fresh growth.
How To Grow Wormwood From Herb Seeds: Start Wormwood seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before time to transplant outdoors. The herb seeds can be pressed into the soil but not covered. Place the starter tray in plastic to help seal the moisture in and keep the tray in a will lit area but out of direct sunlight. Watch for seedlings to emerge and remove them from under the plastic. Grow the seedlings in a sunny window, harden the seedlings for 10 to 14 days before transplanting. Harvesting Wormwood is usually done in mid-summer. When the plants are fully flowering, pick the upper portions of the stalks. Tie the stalks together and hang them upside down in a dark well-ventilated place. When the stalks are dried, store in an air-tight container in a dark place.
Botanical Name: Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood is an aromatic, herbaceous perennial growing from 80cm to 1.2 meters. Rarely, the tall branching stems will reach 1.5 meters. The stems extend from the perennial roots and can be quite woody at the base. The stems are quite strong and are also white-silver toned, due to the coverage of many small hairs. The leaves are up to 8cm by 3 cm, divided into segments and arranged in a spiral around the grooved stem. The deeply serrated leaves are greyish green above and white on the underside, with both sides covered in fine silky trichomes or oil producing hairs. The overall appearance is a generally grey or silvery toned plant. The flowers are small, globular and a yellow-green colour. The pendulous flowers are held in an erect leafy panicle and bloom in summer.
There are several species of wormwood which have slightly different characteristics. Although there is a strong history of using wormwood for many different purposes, many people grow it today for its ornamental attributes.
Wormwood is known to be very bitter in taste, second only to rue, which inspired the Ancients to have a saying ‘as bitter as wormwood’. In traditional folklore, wormwood was seen to be an old love charm when combined with marigold, thyme and marjoram. The Ancients also said that wormwood counteracted the effects of hemlock and toadstool poisoning, as well as the ‘biting of the sea dragon’. Wormwood is a highly valued herb for ritualistic practices and historically it was seen as powerful in warding off demons. Both wormwood and mugwort had many similar uses, but only wormwood has a strong essential oil.
The name Artemisia is from Ancient Greek used in Hellenistic cultures, where the Goddess Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, protector of the forest and children. The term wormwood is from the Middle English wormwode or wermode, which was attributed to the plants antihelminthic attributes in helping to expel worms from the body. The species name ‘absinthium’ is thought to be derived from ‘absinthe’, an approximation of the ancient Greek word for wormwood. There is also a common explanation that the word ‘absinthe’ means ‘undrinkable’, a reference to the bitter taste. However, this term may have been borrowed from Persia as a link to the name of another bitter herb called Syrian Rue, which is not related to the common rue plant.
The native habitat of Artemisia absinthium is generally dry to temperate regions of the world, with low quality soils. It is found throughout much of Europe and Siberia, so extreme cold is not a deterrent. In Great Britain, wormwood is thought to be truly native near coastal areas and several inland locations in Britain and Scotland. It may have also been native to Ireland, but may have been transported there very early in recorded history. Wormwood has naturalized in the United States and Canada, but is so bitter that it is not useful as forage for any animals. It has been cultivated in many regions of the world due to its many useful attributes.
Wormwood is often found in uncultivated or waste ground and near footpaths or roadsides. It prefers rocky slopes and arid ground in nature, so dry gardens are ideal for wormwood. This plant does well in poor soils, but does prefer nitrogen rich soil where possible. Soil should be well drained and not too heavy. Wormwood is good for dry areas, but water is summer will be welcomed. There is a good chance it will do well in part shade and sunny spots, since both are recommended by gardeners.
The roots are perennial and generally survive cold winters, even if the leafy stems die down or succumb to frost. Propagation is by division, by taking cuttings or by sowing seed in autumn. Wormwood will also self-seed if allowed to. Plants may also be divided every 2-3 years to maintain plant quality and vigor by removing the centre of the plant. Wormwood is a hardy plant and should require little maintenance beyond trimming to encourage a bushy growth habit.
Medicinal use of wormwood dates back to Ancient Egypt and wormwood flavoured wine was dated to Ancient Greece. Egyptian papyrus scrolls show that as early as 1552, wormwood was used as a tonic and for various ailments, such as rheumatism. ‘Modern’ use of wormwood dates to the 18th century when a specific recipe was patented and sold as a medicinal elixir. The chemical constituents of A. absinthium include thujone, azeulenes which are anti-inflammatory, and sesquiterpene lactones.
As with many herbs there was a wide range of traditional medicinal applications for wormwood. However, it was very well known for its treatment and prevention of intestinal worm infestation. Another popular use was to bring on late menstrual cycles, which indicate restrictions on use for pregnant and breast feeding women. Similar uses were observed for mugwort and there is a similar contradiction is the use of these plants to ease the pain of women in labour.
Other uses included treating many digestive ailments because the chemicals in the plant increase the peristaltic action of the intestinal tract. It was considered good for people suffering from ‘jamming of the gut’ and ‘lethargic digestion’ because wormwood helped ‘move things along’. It was also suggested to improve appetite, help enzyme activity, and be an excellent energizer. Wormwood also treated flu, colds and coughs, and fever. Wormwood may be soaked in a tea infusion and used to make a compress for bruises and bites.
Wormwood should not be consumed for long periods due to the possible toxicity of the plant. It is better to use dried or fresh herb, since the concentrated essential oils will be very strong extracts and they should be used sparingly. Symptoms of toxicity include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness, spasms and convulsions, foaming at mouth and other neurotoxic signs.
A wormwood tea infusion may be made by taking 2 cups of boiling water, removed from heat, and adding 4 teaspoons of dried leaves and flowers. Cover and allow the wormwood to steep, and then drink on an empty stomach 3 times per day. Maple syrup or mint may be added to assist with the bitter taste.
Wormwood (A. absinthium) is extensively cultivated and has been known for its use in several alcoholic drinks, notably Vermouth and Absinthe. In Vermouth, wormwood flower heads were one of several traditional ingredients mixed with strong alcohol. The name vermouth was taken from the German ‘wermut’ for wormwood.
The drink Absinthe has a controversial history due to a ban being placed on the drink (on wormwood in drinks) in many countries in the early 20th Century. The ban was due to the perceived hallucinatory effects of the chemical thujone, contained within the wormwood plant. This was later proved to be incorrect and may have been attributable to the interactions of other ingredients. It must also be remembered that the alcohol content of Absinthe was generally much higher than normal alcoholic drinks.
The drink was featured in the movie Moulin Rouge and has become popular again, but the production process and the quality may be variable. Although the ban on use of wormwood has been eased in many regions the traditional process is more time consuming and costly. Some countries in Europe still make Absinthe in the traditional manner, but most brands rely on artificial essences and colours added to strong alcohol. The traditional green colour of Absinthe is from the chlorophyll obtained from using fresh wormwood plants.
Wormwood is known to be a good insecticide and insect repellent due to the presence of both thujone and sesquiterpene lactones. To use wormwood as a personal insect repellent, mash a small quantity of leaves until moist and mix with a small amount of apple cider vinegar. Place this mixture in a small cloth (or cloth bag) and tie the corners. Use the damp cloth to wipe the mixture over arms and legs as needed when outdoors.
Alternatively, to make a wormwood moth bag mix one cup each of dried wormwood, spearmint, tansy, and thyme with four cinnamon sticks. Place in a small cloth bag and hang/keep wherever moths are a problem.