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Herb Blurb – Wormwood

Artemisia absinthium (Wormwood, Absinthe)

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Native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Northern Africa, it is grown as an ornamental plant and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe as well as some other alcoholic drinks.Wormwood is traditionally used medicinally in Europe, and is believed to stimulate the appetite and relieve indigestion. Wormwood is mentioned several times in the Bible in the different versions as well as the Jewish Bible, and usually refers to bitterness, or bitter.

Suggested uses

Wormwood has been used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood has also been 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 theskin for healing wounds andinsect bites. Wormwood oil is used as a counterirritant to reduce pain. In manufacturing, wormwood oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes and it is also used as an insecticide. Wormwood extract is used in many alcoholic beverages such as vermouth and absinth which is illegal in many countries including the US due to the chemical compound thujone which is poisonous in large quantities. It is also said that the thujone is what gives absinth the hallucinogenic properties. Wormwood is said to counteract the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops.

Parts to use

Everything that grows above the ground.

How to use

Raw – Placed in homes and among stuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects

Tea – Wormwood Tea, made from 1 OZ. of the herb, infused for 10 to 12 minutes in 1 pint of boiling water, and taken in wineglassful doses, will relieve melancholia and help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin, as well as being a good stomachic, and with the addition of fixed alkaline salt, produced from the burnt plant, is a powerful diuretic in some dropsical cases.

Infusion – The essential oil of the herb is used as a worm-expeller, the spirituous extract being preferable to that distilled in water. The leaves give out nearly the whole of their smell and taste both to alcohol and water, but the cold water infusions are the least bitter.

Growing

Wormwood likes a shady situation, and is easily propagated by division of roots in the autumn, by cuttings, or by seeds sown in the autumn soon after they are ripe. No further care is needed than to keep free from weeds. Plant about 2 feet apart each way.

Storage

Light is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Dried leaves and flowers should be stored in an air tight bag/jar protected from light. Sunlight is the worst as the UV will break down the compounds that are beneficial. Teas and tonics should be prepared fresh and discard any unused portions. Once dried wormwood should be sealed into the storage container as it will reabsorb moisture when left in the open.

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