Medicinal Herb – Wormwood

wormwood flowers wormwood leaf

Medicinal Herb Post #29 written on July 18, 2018

Wormwood – Artemisia abysinthium

This large perennial, is part of the same family as sage brush (Artemisia tridentata) and can grow everywhere if you let it go to seed. It is a cousin to white sagebrush or better known to natives as sacred sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) of which contains similar properties. It’s simple to grow and is considered a drought tolerant plant. It produces pretty soft silver leaves and tiny yellow flowers. Harvest the top half of the plant when the flowers just open in July/August.

Back in the 19th century it was made into an alcoholic drink that was thought to cause absinthism, a condition that created hallucinations and other mental health issues. It is said that some famous writers and artists such as Van Gogh, Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe were affected by the use of it in their work. Thujone is the chemical found in wormwood that was believed to be responsible for these negative effects, however more research has shown that back in the day it was more likely that the extracts were tainted with toxins due to impure production methods. It is still used today in flavoring bitters and vermouth along with clary sage leaves. It has a 160 proof alcohol content and not recommended for drinking by itself. One really cool reason for its use is that it is harmful to dangerous organisms… which may be why people used it for their health and killing parasites.

It is considered a great anthelmintic or herb that expels worms, especially pin worms, both in animals and humans. Wormwood is very beneficial in wound healing due to its antimicrobial properties and antioxidant levels. It is an antifungal, so it is great used for ringworm/athlete’s foot used as a wash or salve. It’s considered, along with other Artimesia species as a very good bitter to help stimulate the digestive system to function properly by increasing salivation and pancreatic enzymes and bile for the liver, strengthening and toning it. For this reason it has been used in formulas for IBS, heartburn and strengthening the immune system. Women have used it traditionally to promote menstruation and decrease cramping, which is why it shouldn’t be used during pregnancy or for women who are nursing. It can also deter mice and other small rodents when planted near structures such as a chicken coop or home. It is also used in insect repellent formulas.

The long term use of wormwood can be unsafe and should not exceed 4 weeks. It should not be used with other pharmaceutical drugs or in pregnant/nursing women.

I use it as a tincture along with Black Walnut and Cloves to give to my chickens every year as a de-wormer mixed into their water. You could also use the same herbs for humans.

The salve I make uses wormwood for any skin issues. My next endeavor is to try an anti-fungal salve with bee balm, wormwood, black walnut hulls and fireweed.

A tea can be made with wormwood and peppermint to enhance the bitter flavor. Use it internally or as a tea wash for rashes or insect bites to relieve pain.

Emily Saddler

Emily is first a wife to her best friend Ryan, homeschool mom of 7 awesome kids, Holistic Health Practitioner in the state of Utah and Traditional Naturopath outside of the state of Utah, master gardener, yoga/pilates instructor, certified clinical and master herbalist, licensed massage therapist, and doula. She is a very passionate advocate of all things Mother Nature! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients, herbal and natural home care product recipes and loves teaching classes on gardening, plant identification and herbal remedy workshops. Check out the events and classes page for more info.

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