Wormwood As Super Herb: What You Need To Know

The wormwood plant called Artemisia absinthium belongs to the Asteraceae or Compositae family

(more commonly known as the daisy family

), which is native to Eurasia and North Africa. The herb is naturalized in Canada and the U.S. It is also known as an ornamental plant on sidewalks. 

The plant is also sometimes referred to as "shrub wormwood" since it can grow to a height of one to three feet. While the stems are either silverish green or white covered in hair, the leaves are hairy and silky bathed in yellowish-green color. Huge flowers in either bright or pale yellow adorn the plants. 

Natural insecticide is stored in the glands of the leaves. Wormwood plants can be utilized for various purposes in both fresh and dried forms. Stems, leaves and flowers have medicinal properties, as well as wormwood tea. 

In 19th century France, wormwood earned a bad reputation because it was used to concoct an alcoholic beverage called absinthe. The addictive drink had side effects since it is a hallucinogen and poison that could negatively impact the central nervous system.The drink was illegal from 1912 to 2007 in the United States and was later legalized for medical purposes, which are as follows:

Antimalarial Drug

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises taking artemisinin-based medication as the first-line treatment for malaria. It is considered the most powerful antimalarial herbal drug currently in the market. 


Cancer cells are filled with iron, especially breast cancer cells. Artemisinin can fight these cells similar to the manner in which they destroy malaria parasites. 


Several worms are in the intestine such as pinworms, tapeworms and roundworms, which all cause infections in the intestines. Wormwood helps cleanse the intestine and kills them. 

Fights Inflammation

Inflammation is the root cause of several diseases. Artemisinin stops the growth of proteins leading to inflammation called cytokines. Crohn’s disease is caused by the inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract and wormwood can help relieve people with the disease. 

Antimicrobial Effects

Essential oils found in wormwood plants promote antimicrobial activities against E.coli and salmonella. The latter causes around 1 million foodborne illnesses every year in the United States. The oils can fight a range of fungi since they contain antioxidant properties. 

Side Effects

Exceeding recommended dosages of the herb could have severe consequences since it is toxic in nature. The FDA has categorized wormwood as unsafe due to the toxic properties of thujone oil. It is considered more safe when taken orally. 

Taking wormwood for more than four weeks and beyond the doctor’s prescription leads to tremors, seizures, insomnia and vertigo, among other issues. 

It is not advisable to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can also trigger seizures for people with epilepsy. Wormwood increases the risk of kidney failure for people who have kidney problems. 

GettyImages-51878671 This photo shows a sample of unprocessed sweet wormwood, a wild grass being processed by Guilin Pharmaceutical, one of only two Chinese companies converting the wild grass herbs into raw material for treating malaria, and the finished product in a pill, 19 December 2004, in Beijing. Combined with another anti-malarial drug, the sweet wormwood's ingredients form a treatment called artemisinin-class combination therapy (ACT), which can cure patients within three days with few problems of drug resistance. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images