Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
Print    Email
Bookmark and Share

Health Information

Health Information

Health Information

Complementary and Alternative Medicine - Cam

Search Health Information    Wormwood

Wormwood

Uses

Botanical names:
Artemisia absinthium

Parts Used & Where Grown

The wormwood shrub grows wild in Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. It is now cultivated in North America as well. The leaves and flowers, and the oil obtained from them, are all used in herbal medicine.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Caraway Seed, Fennel Seed, Peppermint)
Refer to label instructions
A combination of peppermint, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and wormwood was reported to be an effective treatment for upper abdominal complaints in one trial.

Whole peppermint leaf is often used either alone or in combination with other herbs to treat abdominal discomfort and mild cramping that accompany IBS. The combination of peppermint, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and wormwood was reported to be an effective treatment for upper abdominal complaints in a double-blind trial.3

1 Star
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Wormwood is believed to stimulate digestion and relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.4 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine , wormwood , gentian, dandelion , blessed thistle , yarrow , devil’s claw , bitter orange, bitter melon , juniper , andrographis , prickly ash , and centaury .5. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Wormwood is sometimes used in combination with carminative (gas-relieving) herbs for people with indigestion. One double-blind trial found that a combination with peppermint , caraway, and fennel was useful in reducing gas and cramping in people with indigestion.6 The amounts used are the same as the general recommendations for bitters when they are employed for the treatment of indigestion.

1 Star
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Bupleurum, Dan Shen, Ginger, Schisandra)
Take a Chinese herbal formula containing wormwood under the guidance of a qualified practitioner
A standardized Chinese herbal combination containing extracts from plants including wormwood, ginger, bupleurum, schisandra, and dan shen reduced IBS symptoms in one study.

Whole peppermint leaf is often used either alone or in combination with other herbs to treat abdominal discomfort and mild cramping that accompany IBS. The combination of peppermint, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, and wormwood was reported to be an effective treatment for upper abdominal complaints in a double-blind trial.7

1 Star
Parasites
Refer to label instructions
Wormwood has been traditionally used for treatment of parasites. Numerous studies have suggested the herb can be helpful for some parasitic infections.

Several other herbs are traditionally used for treatment of parasites, including male fern (Dryopteris filix mas) root, tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) leaf, wormwood , sweet Annie , black walnut (Juglans nigra) fruit, and cloves (Syzygium aromaticum). Numerous case reports and preliminary studies from the late 1800s and early 1900s have suggested some of these herbs can be helpful for some parasitic infections.8

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Wormwood is perhaps best known because of the use of its oil to prepare certain alcoholic beverages, most notably vermouth and absinthe. Absinthe, popular in the 19th century in Europe, caused several cases of brain damage and even death and was banned in most places in the early 20th century.1 Wormwood oil continues to be used as a flavoring agent for foods, although in much smaller amounts than were found in absinthe.

As a traditional medicine, wormwood was used by herbalists as a bitter to improve digestion, to fight worm infestations, and to stimulate menstruation.2 It was also regarded as a useful remedy for liver and gallbladder problems.

How It Works

Botanical names:
Artemisia absinthium

How It Works

The aromatic oil of wormwood contains the toxins thujone and isothujone. Very little of this oil is present in ordinary wormwood teas or tinctures.9 Also existent in the plant are strong bitter agents known as absinthin and anabsinthin. These stimulate digestive and gallbladder function.10 Modern herbal medicine rarely uses wormwood alone. It is typically combined with herbs such as peppermint or caraway to treat heartburn and even irritable bowel syndrome . Clinical trials are lacking to support the use of wormwood for any indication, however.

How to Use It

A wormwood tea can be made by adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2.5 to 5 grams) of the herb to 1 cup (250 ml) of boiling water, then steeping for ten to fifteen minutes.11 Many doctors recommend drinking three cups (750 ml) each day. Tincture, 10–20 drops in water, can be taken ten to fifteen minutes before each meal.12 Either preparation should not be used consecutively for more than four weeks.13

Interactions

Botanical names:
Artemisia absinthium

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Artemisia absinthium

Side Effects

Longer-term use (over four weeks) or intake of amounts higher than those recommended can cause nausea, vomiting, insomnia , restlessness, vertigo, tremors, and seizures.14 Thujone-containing oil or alcoholic beverages (absinthe) made with the oil is strictly inadvisable—the oil is addictive and may cause brain damage, seizures, and even death.15 Short-term use (two to four weeks) of a wormwood tea or tincture has not resulted in any reports of significant side effects. One study found there were no side effects when using less than 1 ml tincture three times per day for as long as nine months to promote digestive function.16 Nevertheless, consult with a healthcare professional knowledgeable in herbal medicine before taking wormwood. Wormwood is not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding.17

References

1. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 1–3.

2. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 1–3.

3. Westphal J, Hörning M, Leonhardt K. Phytotherapy in functional abdominal complaints: Results of a clinical study with a preparation of several plants. Phytomedicine 1996;2:285–91.

4. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168–73.

5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.

6. Westphal J, Hörning M, Leonhardt K. Phytotherapy in functional upper abdominal complaints. Results of a clinical study with a preparation of several plants. Phytomedicine 1996;2:285–91.

7. Westphal J, Hörning M, Leonhardt K. Phytotherapy in functional abdominal complaints: Results of a clinical study with a preparation of several plants. Phytomedicine 1996;2:285–91.

8. Chopra RN, Chandler AC. Anthelmintics and Their Uses in Medical and Veterinary Practice. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co, 1928.

9. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 79–81.

10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 232–3.

11. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 79–81.

12. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 79–81.

13. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 15.

14. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 1–3.

15. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 15.

16. Yarnell E, Heron S. Retrospective analysis of the safety of bitter herbs with an emphasis on Artemisia absinthium L (wormwood). J Naturopathic Med 1999;9:in press.

17. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 15.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

© 2014 St. Mary's Health System   |  3700 Washington Avenue  |  Evansville, IN 47750  |  (812) 485-4000