An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Wormwood - Artemisia absinthium - family: Asteraceae (Compositae) (Sunflower Family) (Composite Family).

This is a perennial plant that grows to about four feet high. It has gray-greenish leaves and in the summer and early autumn it produces tiny yellowish flowers. The flowers are followed by tiny seeds. Its leaves have been used as a medicine since the times of the ancient Greeks when it was employed as a remedy for intestinal parasites. Traditional European folk use of leaves in a poultice for bruises, sprains and wounds. Under the name Indhana, Wormwood has been used as an Ayurvedic medicinal herb. The essential oil made from Wormwood leaves is used in the making of Absinthe, a toxic alcoholic drink used in 19th century France. Absinthe was banned in most countries early in the twentieth century. Currently the essential oil used to flavor vermouth, an alcoholic beverage and other foods, after the toxic compound, thujone, has been removed. Traditional European folk use to increase appetite and to eliminate digestive tract parasitic worms. Has been employed as an insect repellent and as an insecticide. Note: do not use if pregnant or nursing. Note: avoid consuming any parts of this plant, because they are all toxic. Note: avoid consumption of Wormwood oil, because it is extremely toxic. Note: long term use of this plant may cause convulsions, vomiting and delirium. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1830 to 1890. Native to Europe. Naturalized in eastern and central North America. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America. At least one cultivar exists.


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Web page last updated on 25 May 2003.