Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) is a Medicinal Herb Used in Traditional Herbal Medicine.

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Medicinal Herbs & Therapeutic Botanicals

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Botanicals: Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum)

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Native to Europe, N. Africa and Western Asia, cultivated in the USA and elsewhere.

The plant grows from 2 to 4 feet in height. The numerous flower heads are short-stemmed and hang in a many-flowered panicle. The capitula are small, globular, inclined and 3 to 4 mm wide and almost as long. The bracts are gray, silky-pubescent with a rounded tip. The outer ones are linear-oblong and pubescent while the inner ones are ovate, obtuse, broad and have a transparent, membranous margin. The receptacle is rough-haired. The flowers are yellow and fertile. The fruit is about 1.5 mm long.

The root is perennial, and from it arise branched, firm, leafy stems, sometimes almost woody at the base. The flowering stem is 2 to 2 1/2 feet high and whitish, being closely covered with fine silky hairs. The leaves, which are also whitish on both sides from the same reason, are about 3 inches long by 1 1/2 broad, cut into deeply and repeatedly (about three times pinnatifid), the segments being narrow (linear) and blunt. The leaf-stalks are slightly winged at the margin. The small, nearly globular flowerheads are arranged in an erect, leafy panicle, the leaves on the flower-stalks being reduced to three, or even one linear segment, and the little flowers themselves being pendulous and of a greenish-yellow tint. They bloom from July to October. The ripe fruits are not crowned by a tuft of hairs, or pappus, as in the majority of the Compositae family.

Botanicals: Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum)





Biological Name:
Artemisia absinthum


Other Names: 
Wormwood, absinthium, green ginger, absinthe, old woman, southernwood

Parts Used:
Leaves or flowering tops

Active Compounds: 
Volatile oil with a high level of thujone

Sesquiterpene bitter principles: including absinthine, anab. sinthine, artabsine and matricine

Volatile oil, of variable compostition, usually containing a- and b-thujone as the major component, up to about 35%; with thujyl alcohol, azulenes including chamazulene, 3,6- and 5,6- dihydrochamazulene; bisabolene, cadinene, camphene, sabinene, trans-sabinylacetate, pinene, phellandrene and others.

Sesquiterpene lactones; artabsin, absinthin, anabsinthin, artemetin, arabsin, artabin, artabsinolides, matricin, isoabsinthin, artemolin and others.

Acetylenes, in the root; trans-dehydromatricaria ester, Cl3 and Cl4 trans-spiroketalenol ethers and others

Flavonoids; quercitin 3-glucoside and 3-rhamnoglucoside, spinacetin 3-glucosideand 3-rhamnoglucoside and others

Phenolic acids; p-hydroxyphenylacetic, chlorogenic, p-coumaric, protocatechuic, syringic, vanillic and other acids

Lignans; diayangambin and epiyangambin.



Traditional Applications in Herbal Medicine:

Western Herbal Applications:


Bitter, carminative, anti-microbial, anthelmintic, aromatic, tonic, antiseptic, febrifuge, stomachic. The drug is administered for loss of appetite, dyspeptic disorders, bloating, meteorism and for dyspepsia as a result of convulsive gallbladder disorders.
A nervine tonic, particularly helpful against epilepsy. It is a good remedy for weakend digestion and debility.


Loss of appetite
Dyspeptic complaints
Liver and gallbladder complaints

Wormwood is primarily used as a bitter; it has the effect of stimulating and invigorating the whole of the digestive process. Used for indigestion, especially when due to a deficient quantity or quality of gastric juice. It is a powerful remedy in the treatment of worm infestations, especially roundworm and pinworm. It may also be used to help the body deal with fever and infections. It benefits the body in general.

Chinese Herbal Applications:


Other indications include:


Consult a qualified herbalist


Due to the drug's thujone content, the internal administration of large doses can lead to vomiting, stomach and intestinal cramps, headache, dizziness and disturbances of the central nervous system. Continuous use is not advisable. The use of volatile oils and spirituous extracts from the drug for the manufacture of alcoholic drinks is forbidden in many countries because of possible injuries to health.

Caution: Wormwood is the principal herb used in absinthe, a bitter, aromatic, alcoholic drink that was very popular in Italy, France, and Switzerland during the nineteenth century. Because of the addictive nature of wormwood, and frequent side effects when absinthe was used to excess - dizziness, seizures, stupor, delirium, hallucinations, and even death- it has now been banned in nearly every country of the world.

NOT RECOMMENDED. Caution: Wormwood is poisonous if taken in large doses. Use extreme care. Do not take without the supervision of a qualified professional.



  1. Stuart, Malcolm (1979). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.
  2. Hoffmann, David (1983). The Holistic Herbal: A herbal celebrating the wholeness of life. Findhorn Press, Scotland.



The information provided here is not for the purpose of self diagnosis or self treatment. It is provided for the sole purpose of providing general information about herbs used in herbal medicine. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.

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