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Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.

Scientific Name:

Artemisia absinthium L.

Other Common Name:

Ajenjo, hierba maestra, hierba santa.

Parts of the plant used:

Principally, the stems and leaves.

How is it used?

Wormwood is used mostly as tea.

What is it used for?

Wormwood is used primarily for liver, gall bladder and stomach ailments, as well as to expel intestinal worms, hence the common name. It may be used alone or in combination with other herbs. The plant contains bitter substances and is used as an appetite stimulant. This herb has been used to promote menstruation. Some of the compounds contained in various species of wormwood may be useful in the treatment of malaria German researchers have approved wormwood for stomach ailments, such as dyspepsia, loss of appetite and minor liver and gall bladder problems but its use in the treatment of intestinal parasites is now considered obsolete. This herb may hold promise for treatment for type 2 diabetes, since it has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in experimental animals. Nevertheless, this and any other herb purported to treat diabetes should only be used under professional guidance.


Safety / Precautions

  • There are many species that are known as “Wormwood” in the U. S. or “estafiate” and “ajenjo” in Mexico. Positive identification of the correct species of “wormwood” is often difficult and should not be attempted by the lay person, as erroneous identification of a plant could result in negative effects of the plant upon the user.
  • Wormwood can stimulate the uterus to contract and can also toxic to the nervous system if taken in large amounts. Avoid this herb in any form during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Avoid use in small children, especially those less than 6 years of age.
  • Do not use wormwood if taking medication for seizures and avoid in patients who suffer nervous disorders.
  • Do not ingest if you have cirrhosis, hepatitis, gall bladder obstruction or kidney disease.
  • People with stomach or intestinal ulcers should avoid this herb, due to its potentially irritating action.
  • Treatment with wormwood teas should not be prolonged for more than a few days.
  • Wormwood’s essential oil should never be used internally, because of its toxicity.
  • An alcoholic beverage made from wormwood, popularly known in Europe as “Absinthe” or “Green Fairy”, is addictive and very toxic to the nervous system. For this reason, many countries banned its use early in the twentieth century.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!