WORMWOOD

OTHER NAME(S):

Absinth, Absinthe, Absinthe Suisse, Absinthii Herba, Absinthites, Absinthium, Afsantin, Ajenjo, Alvine, Armoise, Armoise Absinthe, Armoise Amère, Armoise Commune, Armoise Vulgaire, Artesian Absinthium, Artemisia absinthium, Common Wormwood, Grande Absinthe, Green Fairy, Green Ginger, Herba Artemisae, Herbe aux Vers, Herbe d'Absinthe, Herbe Sainte, Indhana, Lapsent, Madderwort, Menu Alvine, Qing Hao, Vilayati Afsanteen, Wermut, Wermutkraut, Western Wormwood, Wurmkraut.<br/><br/>

Overview

Overview Information

Wormwood is an herb. The above-ground plant parts and oil are used for medicine.

Wormwood is used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood is also used to treat fever, liver disease, depression, muscle pain, memory loss and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating. Wormwood is used for Crohn's disease and a kidney disorder called IgA nephropathy.

Wormwood oil is also used for digestive disorders, to increase sexual desire, and to stimulate the imagination.

Some people apply wormwood directly to the skin for osteoarthritis (OA), and healing wounds and insect 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. It is also used as an insecticide.

Wormwood is used in some alcoholic beverages. Vermouth, for example, is a wine beverage flavored with extracts of wormwood. Absinthe is another well-known alcoholic beverage made with wormwood. It is an emerald-green alcoholic drink that is prepared from wormwood oil, often along with other dried herbs such as anise and fennel. Absinthe was popularized by famous artists and writers such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Manet, van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde. It is now banned in many countries, including the U.S. But it is still allowed in European Union countries as long as the thujone content is less than 35 mg/kg. Thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood. Distilling wormwood in alcohol increases the thujone concentration.

How does it work?

Wormwood oil contains the chemical thujone, which excites the central nervous system. However, it can also cause seizures and other adverse effects. Other chemicals in wormwood might decrease inflammation (swelling).

Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Crohn's disease. Early research shows that taking wormwood daily for 6-10 weeks improves symptoms, quality of life, and mood in some patients with Crohn's disease. It also seems to reduce the amount of steroids needed by people with this condition.
  • A certain kidney disease called IgA nephropathy. Early research shows that taking wormwood daily for 6 months can reduce blood pressure and levels of protein in the urine in people with IgA nephropathy.
  • Osteoarthritis. Early research suggests that applying ointment or liniment containing wormwood to the knee might reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. But it doesn’t seem to improve stiffness or function. Wormwood also doesn’t seem to be as effective as using a prescription gel containing a medicine called piroxicam.
  • Gallbladder disorders.
  • Increasing sweating.
  • Indigestion.
  • Insect bites.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Low sexual desire.
  • Spasms.
  • Worm infestations.
  • Wounds.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of wormwood for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Wormwood is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food and beverages, including bitters and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin as ointment. Wormwood that contains thujone is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when it is taken by mouth or used on the skin. When taken by mouth, thujone can cause seizures, muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis), kidney failure, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, tremors, changes in heart rate, urine retention, thirst, numbness of arms and legs, paralysis, and death. When used on the skin, wormwood can reportedly cause severe skin redness and burning.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Wormwood is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy in amounts greater than what is commonly found in food. The concern is the possible thujone content. Thujone might affect the uterus and endanger the pregnancy. It's also best to avoid topical wormwood, since not enough is known about the safety of applying wormwood directly to the skin.

If you are breast-feeding, don't use wormwood until more is known about safety.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Wormwood may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking wormwood.

A rare inherited blood condition called porphyria: Thujone present in wormwood oil might increase the body's production of chemicals called porphyrins. This could make porphyria worse.

Kidney disorders: Taking wormwood oil might cause kidney failure. If you have kidney problems, talk with your healthcare provider before taking wormwood.

Seizure disorders, including epilepsy: Wormwood contains thujone, which can cause seizures. There is concern that wormwood might make seizures more likely in people who are prone to them.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

!
  • Medications used to prevent seizures (Anticonvulsants) interacts with WORMWOOD

    Medications used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Wormwood may also affect chemicals in the brain. By affecting chemicals in the brain, wormwood may decrease the effectiveness of medications used to prevent seizures.<br/><br/> Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone (Mysoline), valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), and others.

Dosing

Dosing

The appropriate dose of wormwood depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for wormwood. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References

REFERENCES:

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  • Dettling, A., Grass, H., Schuff, A., Skopp, G., Strohbeck-Kuehner, P., and Haffner, H. T. Absinthe: attention performance and mood under the influence of thujone. J Stud.Alcohol 2004;65(5):573-581. View abstract.
  • Hien, T. T., VinhChau, N. V., Vinh, N. N., Hung, N. T., Phung, M. Q., Toan, L. M., Mai, P. P., Dung, N. T., HoaiTam, D. T., and Arnold, K. Management of multiple drug-resistant malaria in Viet Nam. Ann.Acad.Med Singapore 1997;26(5):659-663. View abstract.
  • Huisman, M., Brug, J., and Mackenbach, J. Absinthe--is its history relevant for current public health? Int J Epidemiol. 2007;36(4):738-744. View abstract.
  • Krishna, S., Bustamante, L., Haynes, R. K., and Staines, H. M. Artemisinins: their growing importance in medicine. Trends Pharmacol.Sci 2008;29(10):520-527. View abstract.
  • Omer, B., Krebs, S., Omer, H., and Noor, T. O. Steroid-sparing effect of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) in Crohn's disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Phytomedicine. 2007;14(2-3):87-95. View abstract.
  • Trevett, A. and Lalloo, D. A new look at an old drug: artemesinin and qinghaosu. P.N G Med J 1992;35(4):264-269. View abstract.
  • Basiri Z, Zeraati F, Esna-Ashari F, et al. Topical effects of Artemisia Absinthium ointment and liniment in comparison with piroxicam gel in patients with knee joint osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Iran J Med Sci 2017;42(6):524-31. View abstract.
  • El Makrini NI, Hassam B. Artemisia absinthium: burning plant! Pan Afr Med J. 2016 Jan 22;23:10. View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
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  • Kim MS, Na HJ, Han SW, et al. Forsythia fructus inhibits the mast-cell-mediated allergic inflammatory reactions. Inflammation 2003;27:129-35. View abstract.
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  • Krebs S, Omer B, Omer TN, Fliser D. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) for poorly responsive early-stage IgA nephropathy: a pilot uncontrolled trial. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010 Dec;56(6):1095-9. View abstract.
  • Krebs S, Omer TN, Omer B. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) suppresses tumour necrosis factor alpha and accelerates healing in patients with Crohn's disease - A controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2010 Apr;17(5):305-9. View abstract.
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  • Mueller MS, Runyambo N, Wagner I, et al. Randomized controlled trial of a traditional preparation of Artemisia annua L. (Annual Wormwood) in the treatment of malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 2004;98:318-21. View abstract.
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More Resources for WORMWOOD

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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