What do Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso have in common besides their amazing painting abilities? These three artists shared a love for absinthe, an alcoholic beverage made from wormwood, anise, and fennel. Absinthe is currently banned in the United States and many other countries but is still available in Europe. You may have heard of wormwood because of its inclusion in this famous European drink, but did you know that it also has the potential to help with many general and serious health problems?
It’s true. Wormwood is actually used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially roundworms and enterobiasis. That is why it is recommended as a therapy for cleaning parasites. How powerful is wormwood? It owes its benefits because it is the source of a key ingredient, herbal medicine artemisinin, which is the most powerful anti-malarial drug on the market.
And that’s not all. Scientific research also shows that wormwood can kill cancer cells. You can also use it to treat anorexia, insomnia, anemia, lack of appetite, bloating, abdominal pain, jaundice, and digestive problems.
Wormwood as a plant is used in alcoholic beverages. On the other hand, wormwood is even mentioned in the Bible. The least we can say is that it is a really intriguing plant, but does this plant really kill parasites and cancer? Research says that the positive and healing effects of wormwood appear every day.
Of course, there is a good reason for caution when it comes to wormwood products (as well as absinthe), but once you learn about thujone, you will see why not all wormwood products are produced equally. What to look out for and what you need to know – how to get the full dose of wormwood information. P
Six benefits of wormwood
1. Treatment of malaria
Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes and attacks by red blood cells. Artemisinin is an extract isolated from the plant Artemisia annua or sweet wormwood. Artemisinin is an herbal medicine that is considered the most powerful anti-malarial medicine on the market. It is known to quickly reduce the number of parasites in the blood of patients infected with malaria. The World Health Organization recommends artemisinin-based combination therapy for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria.
Recent experiments have shown that artemisinin acts against the malaria parasite because it reacts with high iron levels in the parasite to produce free radicals. Free radicals then destroy the cell walls of malaria parasites.
2. It kills cancer cells
According to the latest research, artemisinin can kill iron-rich breast cancer cells similar to how it kills malaria-causing parasites, making it a potential natural cure for breast cancer in women. Cancer cells can be rich in iron because they absorb it to facilitate cell division. In a 2012 study, researchers tested cell samples infected with breast cancer and normal breast cells that were first treated to maximize their iron content. The cells were then treated with water with a dissolved form of artemisinin, wormwood extract.
The results were quite impressive. Normal cells showed little change, but within 16 hours, almost all cancer cells were dead, and only a few normal cells were killed. Bioengineer Henry Lai believes that the reason is that breast cancer cells contain 5 to 15 times more receptors than normal cells. They absorb iron more easily and are therefore more susceptible to artemisinin’s attack.
3. Get rid of parasites
Wormwood is used to eliminate intestinal worms, especially roundworms and enterobiasis. Enterobiasis is the most common worm infection in the United States, with worm eggs spreading directly from person to person. Roundworms, or Ascaris, are parasites that can also infect the human gut. Enterobiasis can cause extreme itching in the anal region. In contrast, roundworms can cause coughing, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, blood in the stool, weight loss, or the presence of worms when vomiting or in the stool.
Parasites are never a good thing, but fortunately, they can be treated with natural remedies. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) are commonly used together to kill a parasitic infection. It is believed that when these three plants are taken at the same time, they can interrupt the life cycle of the parasite.
4. Treatment of Crohn’s disease
In Germany, a randomized study examined the effectiveness of an herbal mixture containing wormwood at a dose of 500 milligrams three times a day compared to a placebo for 10 weeks in 40 patients with Crohn’s disease who were already on a constant daily dose of medication. This initial stable dose of medication was maintained for 2 weeks, after which a defined replacement schedule was started so that at the beginning of the tenth week, the patients were without medication.
The researchers found a significant improvement in the symptoms of Crohn’s disease in 18 patients (90 percent) who received wormwood despite a reduction in medication. After eight weeks of wormwood treatment, 13 patients (65 percent) in this group developed almost complete remission of symptoms compared to none in the placebo group. This remission lasted until the end of the observation period, which was 20 weeks (12 weeks later), and no medication was required.
The results were impressive and indicated that wormwood could reduce or eliminate the need for medication in patients with Crohn’s disease. The results show that wormwood has positive effects on mood and quality of life, which are not achieved by other standard drugs for chronic disease.
5. Wormwood contains antimicrobial and antifungal properties
In vitro studies have shown that wormwood essential oils have antimicrobial activity. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that wormwood oil shows a wide range of antimicrobial activities against several bacterial species, including E. coli and Salmonella. Salmonella is estimated to cause 1 million food poisoning cases each year in the United States alone, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. E. coli is another type of bacterium that can cause a range of problems, from diarrhea and urinary tract infections to pneumonia and other diseases.
Wormwood not only kills bacteria but has also been shown to kill fungi. The essential oil distilled from the aerial parts of Artemisia absinthium inhibited the growth of an extensive range of tested fungi (11, to be precise). Wormwood essential oil also showed antioxidant properties during testing.
Another study published in Planta Medica showed that A. absinthium oil inhibited Candida albicans. This is the most common type of infection found in the mouth, intestines, or vagina, and can affect the skin and mucous membranes. Candida albicans can cause all kinds of common and extremely unwanted symptoms of candida.
6. Treats SIBO (increase in the number of bacteria in the stomach)
Many people turn to natural and alternative treatments for gastrointestinal problems, and for a good reason. Research shows that herbal remedies, such as wormwood, are very effective at fighting harmful bacteria that attack the gut or the symptoms of SIBO.
Typical treatment for SIBO is limited to oral antibiotics with varying degrees of efficacy. A survey conducted in 2014 included 104 new SIBO patients who were treated with a high dose of rifaximin or herbal therapy daily for four weeks. Herbal products were specially selected because they contained antimicrobial herbal agents such as wormwood, oregano oil, thyme extract, and berberine, which have been shown to provide a wide range of effects against the different types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.
Of the patients who received herbal therapy, 46 percent showed no evidence of SIBO on subsequent tests compared with 34 percent of rifaximin users. Side effects reported among those taking rifaximin include anaphylaxis, hives, diarrhea, and pseudomembranous colitis. In contrast, in the group receiving herbal therapy, only one case of diarrhea was reported, and no other side effects.
The study concluded that herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin in treating SIBO. Additionally, herbal wormwood therapy appears to be as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for individuals who do not respond to rifaximin.
The origin of the wormwood plant and its chemical composition
What exactly is wormwood? Artemisia absinthium is a fragrant, perennial plant belonging to the family Asteraceae or Compositae, better known as the daisy family. This plant releases an aromatic scent and has a strong bitter taste. Many species of the Artemisia family tend to have healing properties, such as Artemisia vulgaris, or wild wormwood, which is another medicinal plant.
Wormwood originates from Europe, parts of Africa, and Asia. Today, it is also present in the United States, most often along roads or trails. Also called shrub wormwood, Artemisia absinthium is a plant that usually grows to a height of 30 cm to one meter. It has gray-green or white stems covered with fine hairs and yellowish-green leaves that are hairy and soft. The plant’s leaves have glands that contain resin particles in which the natural insecticide is stored.
Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) is a common species of wormwood found in some parts of Asia with a temperate climate but is also found in parts of North America.
Sweet wormwood can be used fresh or dried. All airy parts of the plant (stem, leaves, and flower) have medicinal uses. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves and flower tops by steam distillation. One study of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium plant showed that it contains at least 28 components representing 93.3 percent of the oil. The main components are β-pinene (23.8 percent) and β-thujone (18.6 percent).
Thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. The distillate of this plant in alcohol increases the concentration of thujone, which is exactly what makes absinthe a drink that causes controversy.
Among the biologically active components of wormwood are:
The list you provided is a list of compounds found in wormwood.
– Acetylenes (trans-dehydromatricar esters, C13 and C14 trans-spiroketalenol ether, and others)
– Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
– Azulenes (hamazulenes, dihydrohamazulenes, bisabolenes, camphene, katinen, sabinene, trans-sabinyl acetate, phellandrene, pinene, and others)
– Flavonoids (quercetin 3-glucoside, quercetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, spinacetin 3-glucoside, spinacetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, and others)
– Lignin (diayangambin and epiyangambin)
– Phenolic acids (p-hydroxyphenyl acetic, p-coumaric, chlorogenic, protocatechuic, vanillic, syringic acid, and others)
– Thujones and isotujones
– Sesquiterpene lactones (absinthin, artabsin, anabsintin, artemetin, artemisinin, arabsin, artabin, artabsinolides, artemolin, matricin, isoabsintin, and others).
Wormwood history and interesting facts
The name wormwood comes from the ancient use of the plant and its extracts as an anthelmintic, an antiparasitic drug that expels parasitic worms and other internal parasites from the body.
In ancient Egyptian times, it was a commonly used medicinal plant, especially for pain in the anal region and as a wine additive. It was later used in European folk medicine to induce childbirth. As a strong tea, the plant is traditionally used in Europe as a bitter drink to improve stomach condition and prevent constipation.
Absinthe, a favorite alcoholic beverage in France in the 19th century, is addictive and associated with serious side effects known as absinthism or irreversible damage to the central nervous system.
Absinthe became popular thanks to some of the most famous writers and artists, including Ernest Hemingway, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Eduard Manet, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Oscar Wilde. The manic-depressive painter Vincent van Gogh was addicted to absinthe, and some say that his constant intoxication with this drink led to the creation of a large number of paintings in which green or yellowish shades predominate (thanks to the hallucinatory effects of thujone) – and that wormwood actually worsened his epilepsy.
Absinthe is an alcoholic drink with a taste of anise, and among its ingredients are flowers and leaves of wormwood, anise, and fennel. This drink is banned in the United States and many other countries. However, in some European Union countries, it is not banned as long as the thujone content is less than 35 milligrams per kilogram.
Thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. The alcoholic distillation of wormwood increases the concentration of thujone. Wormwood extract without thujone is used as an aroma in alcoholic beverages such as vermouth.
Wormwood or the chemical components derived from it have been described in many novels, plays, and other art forms, from Dracula to Romeo and Juliet.
There are also several biblical references to this plant. The word “wormwood” appears several times in the Old Testament, translated from the Hebrew term la’anah (meaning “curse” in Arabic and Hebrew). It is also mentioned in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation: “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.” (Revelation 8:10-11).
Recipes for using wormwood
Wormwood is commercially available in health food stores and online stores in the form of essential oil and capsules, tablets, tinctures, and liquid extracts. It can also be used fresh or dried for various drinks or tea.
It is best used in dry form, which contains little, almost no thujone. To make a drink or tea from wormwood, take half to one teaspoon of dried or fresh wormwood and put it in a glass of hot water for 5 to 15 minutes. It is important not to use more than one teaspoon of leaves, as the taste is strong and bitter. Prolonged keeping in water will make the tea stronger but also bitter. Wormwood should be taken unsweetened to have a better effect, and you can alleviate the bitterness by adding dried peppermint or anise.
Wormwood tea can be beneficial for digestion, especially before heavy meals that can cause bloating. The preparations are usually available in liquid form, and a strong bitter taste is an important component of its therapeutic effect on stomach diseases. It can also be taken occasionally as an energy drink.
It is best to take wormwood powder in pill form for intestinal problems such as worms or parasites.
You can also use wormwood and other botanical products as part of homemade bitter drinks with excellent digestive aid.
You should only take wormwood under the supervision of a professional. It should always be taken in small doses, according to the instructions, and not longer than four weeks in a row.
Potential side effects of wormwood, allergies and interactions
Wormwood is not a plant for long-term use. It is not allowed to exceed the recommended doses because excessive wormwood intake can be very toxic. It is recommended to be taken in dry form, which contains little, almost no, volatile thujone oil.
The US Food and Drug Administration states that wormwood is not safe to use due to thujone oil’s toxicity. However, it is considered safe when taken orally in the amounts most commonly found in foods and beverages, including bitter drinks and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. Using wormwood for more than four weeks or higher than recommended doses can lead to nausea, vomiting, restlessness, insomnia, dizziness, shivering, and seizures.
Wormwood products that contain thujone, such as absinthe, can be unsafe when taken by mouth. The effects of absinthe/thujone may include restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, seizures, dizziness, tremors, muscle disorders, kidney failure, vomiting, stomach cramps, urinary retention, thirst, numbness of the arms and legs, paralysis, and death.
Do not take this herb in any form if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is documented evidence that this herb causes miscarriage and causes more extensive menstrual bleeding.
If you are allergic to ragweed and other plants from the Asteraceae / Compositae family, wormwood can cause an allergic reaction.
If you have porphyria (a group of disorders caused by the production of natural chemicals that produce porphyrin in the body), then you must know that thujone is present in wormwood oil and can increase the production of chemicals in the body called porphyrins, which can worsen the patient’s condition.
If you have epilepsy or any other seizure disorder, talk to your doctor before using this herb. Thujone in wormwood causes seizures, especially in people who tend to do so.
Wormwood is not recommended for people with kidney problems. The oil can lead to kidney failure. If you have kidney problems, do not take this herb before talking to your chosen doctor.
The use of essential oil in aromatherapy is not recommended because it contains an extremely high amount of thujone, a convulsant, and neurotoxin.
Be careful and talk to your doctor before mixing wormwood with any anticonvulsant, a drug used to prevent seizures. Because these drugs and wormwood can affect brain chemicals, this plant can reduce anticonvulsants’ effectiveness.
Final information about wormwood
Absinthe is an herbal drink made from wormwood, anise, and fennel, but that is not all that wormwood is good for. It is used to remove various parasites in the intestines and is a key ingredient for herbal artemisinin, one of the most effective malaria drugs available on the market.
Research has shown that wormwood has potential anti-cancer properties and can be used to treat anorexia, insomnia, anemia, lack of appetite, bloating, abdominal pain, jaundice, and digestive issues. It has been shown to cure malaria, kill breast cancer cells, release parasites, treat Crohn’s disease, have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and reduce the growth of bacteria.
Wormwood is available in various forms such as essential oils, capsules, tablets, tinctures, and liquid extracts. It can also be used in fresh or dried form to make tea or drinks.
It is important to take wormwood only under the supervision of a professional and to follow the instructions for use carefully. It is recommended to take it in small doses and for no longer than four consecutive weeks.