Artemisia absinthium is an herbaceous, perennial plant with fibrous roots. The stems are straight, growing to 0.8–1.2 metres (2 ft 7 in–3 ft 11 in) (rarely 1.5 m, but, sometimes even larger) tall, grooved, branched, and silvery-green. The leaves are spirally arranged, greenish-grey above and white below, covered with silky silvery-white trichomes, and bearing minute oil-producing glands; the basal leaves are up to 25 cm long, bipinnate to tripinnate with long petioles, with the cauline leaves (those on the stem) smaller, 5–10 cm long, less divided, and with short petioles; the uppermost leaves can be both simple and sessile (without a petiole). Its flowers are pale yellow, tubular, and clustered in spherical bent-down heads (capitula), which are in turn clustered in leafy and branched panicles. Flowering is from early summer to early autumn; pollination is anemophilous. The fruit is a small achene; seed dispersal is by gravity.
It grows naturally on uncultivated, arid ground, on rocky slopes, and at the edge of footpaths and fields. It is also used as the plant matter for Synthetic Cannabis. Artemisia absinthium is a herbaceous, perennial plant with fibrous roots. The stems are straight, growing to 0.8–1.2 metres (2 ft 7 in–3 ft 11 in) (rarely 1.5 m, but, sometimes even larger) tall, grooved, branched, and silvery-green. The leaves are spirally arranged, greenish-grey above and white below, covered with silky silvery-white trichomes, and bearing minute oil-producing glands; the basal leaves are up to 25 cm long, bipinnate to tripinnate with long petioles, with the cauline leaves (those on the stem) smaller, 5–10 cm long, less divided, and with short petioles; the uppermost leaves can be both simple and sessile (without a petiole). Its flowers are pale yellow, tubular, and clustered in spherical bent-down heads (capitula), which are in turn clustered in leafy and branched panicles. Flowering is from early summer to early autumn; pollination is anemophilous. The fruit is a small achene; seed dispersal is by gravity.
It grows naturally on uncultivated, arid ground, on rocky slopes, and at the edge of footpaths and fields. It is also used as the plant matter for Synthetic Cannabis.
The plant can easily be cultivated in dry soil. It should be planted under bright exposure in fertile, mid-weight soil. It prefers soil rich in nitrogen. It can be propagated by ripened cuttings taken in Spring or Autumn in temperate climates, or by seeds in nursery beds. Artemisia absinthium also self-seeds generously. It is naturalized in some areas away from its native range, including much of North America and Kashmir Valley of India.
Wormwood essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowering tops and is commonly known as wormwood or green ginger.The colour is a stunning marine bluish-green due to a minute content of chamazulene. The smell is warm, sharp, dry-woody and herbaceous-green throughout, reminiscent to a cedar leaf and chamomile blue infusion. A unique note for perfumers.
The spectacular fact about Wormwood is that it was used by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek Physician and the father of western medicine. Many ancient monks and nuns used this bitter herb in the form of an elixir for its detoxifying properties. The prehistoric use of Wormwood has been mentioned in Bible and the first century writings of Greece and Rome, where the herb was said to be placed in the sandals of Roman warriors to pacify their sore feet.
The Essential Oil of Wormwood is extracted by steam distillation of its leaves, twigs, and flowering tops and is chiefly composed of alpha thujone, beta thujone, geranyl propionate, linalyl acetate, myrcene, sabinene, trans sabinol, and trans sabinyl acetate.
Uses and Benefits of Wormwood Essential Oil
Before we commence our exploration into its medicinal properties, you should know that the Essential Oil of Wormwood is a potent poison, due to presence of high concentration of thujone in it. More precisely, it is actually a neurotoxin. So, extreme care should be taken while using wormwood for medicinal purposes and prolonged use should be avoided. That being said, here are some of the medicinal properties and uses of Wormwood essential oil.
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 essential 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.
Since wormwood essential oil has a cholagogue property, it promotes the discharge of bile from the liver into the stomach and stimulates other discharges as well. This helps in two ways. Firstly, bile, being alkaline or basic in nature, helps in the decomposition or breaking down of food and thereby facilitates digestion. Secondly, it helps neutralize the excess acids in the stomach, thereby giving relief from problems like acidity, ulcers caused due to prolonged acidity, and acidosis.
Since this oil is high in thujone content, it has a characteristic smell of that constituent and has an aroma similar to that of Thuja. This justifies its use as a deodorant. However, care should be taken to use it in a very high degree of dilution to avoid excessive inhalation.
Wormwood essential oil nurtures the digestive system and effectively helps in removing the toxic substances known as ama from the body. According to Ayurveda, improper digestion is the root cause for all kinds of illnesses as the undigested food particles turn as toxins and curb the normal functioning of the body. Wormwood essential oil strengthens the entire digestive system with its carminative, stomachic, cholagogue, anthelmintic, tonic and stimulant properties. The presence of artabsin and absinthin in Wormwood oil are responsible for the bitter taste, which acts as a stimulant in enlivening the taste buds and improving the secretion of saliva and perking up the natural appetite of an individual. It promotes proper discharge of bile secretion from the liver to the stomach and effectively counterbalances the excess acid substance while assisting the complete process of metabolism. This facilitates digestion, which means that this oil can be used for digestive purposes, but only in extremely low doses. All these healing properties of Wormwood essential oil make it a promising remedy in the treatment of acidosis, ulcer, liver and gall bladder problems and numerous other digestive disorders.
Its property of stimulating discharges makes wormwood essential oil an emmenagogue. It stimulates menstrual discharges and help to open obstructed menstruation. The emmenagogue property in this oil enhances the blood circulation in the uterus and pelvic region while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. This oil is also used as a pain reliever during labor. This is very beneficial from the point of view of health since obstructed menstruation can give rise to some critical health problems in women, including uterine tumors and cancer. The emmenagogue property of Wormwood Essential Oil helps get rid of problems like headaches, abdominal cramps and ache, nausea, fatigue, lack of appetite, and make periods more regular. Ayurveda recommends Abhyanga or the art of massaging in an Ayurvedic manner for treating problems related to menstruation and menopause. Gently massaging 2 to 3 drops of wormwood essential oil along with sesame oil or coconut oil can grant significant relief and support the health of the female reproductive system.
The toxic property of certain components like alpha thujone and beta thujone of Wormwood Essential Oil helps fight infections, as they kill microbes and inhibit their growth. They are also fatal for viruses and bacteria, which give fevers. Wormwood essential oil thereby aids in the reduction of fever, making this oil a febrifuge. A research by the Cancer institute on the effectiveness of Complementary and alternative medicine in 2004 witnessed that Wormwood is powerful in treating fever and was used in Malaria treatment. The ancient Africans and Asians used Wormwood to combat malaria and to treat few other mosquito-borne diseases.
A substance that is highly poisonous to higher animals and mammals will no doubt be poisonous to some lower animals and insects (excluding those stubborn insects who have either developed resistance to some of the deadliest poisons or are naturally immune against them). So, being poisonous, the Essential Oil of Wormwood serves as an insecticide and an insect repellant. It can be used in sprays, vaporizers, and fumigants to have this effect.
In general, the term “Narcotic” has a negative impression on most countries in the world. However, it can also be beneficial against certain symptoms, just like some of the deadliest poisons have their uses as medicines. The narcotic effect of this oil can be used to pacify or calm down nervous afflictions, epileptic and hysteric attacks, convulsions, stress, tension, and insomnia. A well-known research on ‘The Debate About Wormwood and Thujone Psycho-activity‘ proved that the presence of α-thujone (alpha thujone) and β-thujone (beta thujone) in Artemisia absinthium are responsible for Psycho-activity and the higher-potency α-thujone is considered as the primary psychoactive agent. Adding 2 drops of Wormwood essential oil to a tissue and placing it near your pillow can give you great relief for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The parasitic worms, such as round worms, tape worms, and hook worms that are occasionally found in the human body cannot withstand the toxicity of Wormwood Essential Oil and are quickly killed. This helps in regaining a proper growth pattern, particularly in children, due to the proper absorption of nutrients in the body. In certain cases this oil is given as an enema in treating worms in the rectum and intestines.
The Essential Oil of Wormwood is a tonic that tones up the organic systems and also fortifies the body. It tones up digestion and helps in the proper absorption of nutrients in the body. Then, it tones up circulation and helps in the proper and uniform distribution of nutrients throughout the body. Again, it tones up the excretory system and keeps our body free of unwanted materials and toxins. Its toning effect on the endocrine system helps in proper growth and maturity and it also maintains the proper discharge of hormones and enzymes. By toning up the nervous system, it keeps us more active and alert. The immune system is also toned up by this oil, which provides effective protection against infections and diseases.
It can also be used to treat anorexia, insomnia, anemia, a lack of appetite, flatulence, stomach aches, jaundice, and other ailments such as indigestion and loose motions arising from improper functioning of the liver.
Precautions and Side Effects of Wormwood Essential Oil
Wormwood Essential Oil is poisonous and is basically a neurotoxin. Large doses can cause nervous afflictions, convulsions, restlessness, impulsive behavior, and even death. Prolonged use can result in permanent damage to the brain and the nervous system, even resulting in insanity. It does have narcotic effects and is highly addictive. Consult your medical practitioner before using the right essential oil for your health and your constitution.
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. Wormwood that contains thujone is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when it is taken by mouth. Thujone can cause seizures, muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis),kidney failure, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, tremors, urine retention, thirst, numbness of arms and legs, paralysis, and death. Not enough is known to rate the safety of using wormwood topically.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancyand 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.
Allergyto 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 calledporphyria: Thujone present in wormwood essential oil might increase the body’s production of chemicals called porphyrins. This could make porphyria worse.
Kidney disorders: Taking wormwood essential oil might cause kidney failure. If you have kidney problems, talk with your healthcare provider before taking wormwood.
Seizure disorders, includingepilepsy: Wormwood contains thujone, which can cause seizures. There is concern that wormwood might make seizures more likely in people who are prone to them.
Blend for Wormwood Essential Oil
Due to its bitter overtones, wormwood essential oil blends well with sweeter essential oils such as Anise, Angelica, Lavender, Sweet Orange, Jasmine, and Oak moss.