Wormwood, also known as absinthe, wermut or Hia leaves, has the latin name Artemisia absinthium L. Wormwood is native to Europe, growing in bushes, and now can be found easily in USA. In ancient time, the known health benefits of wormwood extracts is mostly to purge intestinal worms. Wormwood is used in many traditional medicines in Europe, North and South America, Pakistan, China, Japan and Korea. Wormwood extracts are also fermented to make wine; wormwood wine is banned in USA but still allowed in Europe as native cultures of Russia. Just like fennel leaves, wormwood leaves are known as 1 of 9 sacred medicinal plants in Anglo-Saxon. Wormwood leaves are made into tea. Although it was popular as traditional medicine, today not many people know the health benefits of wormwood tea.
People in China use the health benefits of wormwood tea to cure “women’s disease” or leukorrhea. Other than served as tea, they also cook wormwood leaves with fatty meat like any other vegetables. Wormwood leaves are bitter, spicy, have aromatic smell.
Wormwood Nutritional Facts
Many Artemisia species have derivative of thujone monoterpenoid which has toxic effect, but in wormwood the amount of that substance is relatively small. Wormwood also contains thymol and carvacrol, and other phenolic compounds which are known as strong antioxidants and have the effect of catching free radicals.
Wormwood leaves also produce oil when distilled. The main components of wormwood oil are: chamazulene (18%), muciferol butanoate (8%), muciferol propionate (5%), and caryophyllene oxide (4%). The essential oil also contains aromatic compounds in big number (41%) and very low oxygenated monoterpene (24%).
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Wormwood roots and stems contain oxytocin, yomogi alcohol, and ridentin. As a result, there are many health benefits of wormwood tea that you need to splash.
Recent studies found that wormwood leaves are high in antioxidants and contain artemisinin, which was used as anti-malaria drugs. The Artemisinin compounds in this plant can kill up to 98% breast cancer cells in less than 16 hours.
When using wormwood alone, this plant can reduce cancer cells up to 28%; but when used together with iron, wormwood can kill almost all cancer cells. Uniquely, the effect does not attack healthy cells at all.
Artemisinin compound in wormwood tea has been used in anti-malaria drugs. The more recent studies showed that Plasmodium, the malaria parasites, cannot live when exposed to artemisinin because of the iron compounds in it.
Anti-helminthic activity is thought to be caused by lactone which is related to santonin and thujone in wormwood, which is known to kill worms and then eliminated from the intestines and body. Thujone can be found in the seeds and leaves of wormwood, also other Artemisia species. Thujone can “electrocute” intestinal worms, which are then eliminated from the body by peristaltic movements of the guts.
Essential oil distilled from wormwood leaves inhibits the growth of Candida albicans (the main cause of oral and vaginal thrush) and Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. chevalieri. This is one of the health benefits of wormwood tea which are known by Chinese people, to cure leukorrhea (or woman’s disease) caused by Candida albicans.
The essential oil contains thujone, which is recognized as an active constituent influencing the growth of microbe like Escherichia coli, Salmonella enteridis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonieae, Staphylococcus aureus, C.albicans, and Aspergillus niger.
This is why wormwood tea or the extracts are used traditionally to cure diarrhea, dysentery, boils, pneumonia and other bacterial/fungal respiratory problems, and leukorrhea.
- Treatment of Crohn Disease
According to a study held in Germany, the intake of herbal mixture (3 x 500 mg / day) of wormwood to the crohn disease patients showed that the patients were freed from physical and psychological symptoms of the disease, and there was no serious side effects.
- Treatment of Peptic Ulcer
The study done on rats showed the significant reduction of stomach acids and peptic activity.
- Reduces the Onset of Epilepsy
Consuming wormwood tea or wormwood root decoction can reduce the onset of epilepsy, and increase the productivity of epilepsy patients. There are 2 ways of preparing the wormwood:
1 handful of wormwood roots, thumb-size ginger and thumb-size palm sugar are cleaned and cut into small pieces. These mixtures are boiled in 4 glasses of water, until only 2 glasses of water left. After cooled down, strain the decoction and drink it 2 times a day, 1 cup each time.
1 teaspoon of wormwood powder is made into 1 cup of tea. Drink the tea 3 times a day.
- Treatment of Sore Throat, Coughs, and Pneumonia
Fresh wormwood leaves are pounded until pulverized, wring and strain it until half cup of extract is collected. Drink this extract 2 times a day until the symptoms disappear. To mask the bitter taste, we can add honey or palm sugar.
- Treatment of Dysentery
One of health benefits of wormwood tea is anti-microbe. Fresh wormwood leaves as much as 20 grams and thumb-sized ginger are cut into small pieces, then boiled in 3 glasses of water until the water is 1 glass left. Cool it down, and strain it. Drink 3 times a day, 1/3 glass each time.
- Eliminates Warts (Verrucae)
Fresh wormwood leaves are cleaned and pounded until pulverized, then put onto the warts until the leaves are dry; we can use bandage to prevent the leaves from falling down. Change the leaves 3-4 times a day, for about 30 days.
- Treatment of Boils
Since one of health benefits of wormwood is anti-microbe that is effective against S.aureus, we can use it to cure boils. The fresh wormwood leaves are pounded and put on the affected area.
- Treatment of Hemorrhoids
Fresh wormwood leaves are cleaned and pounded, then heat it on low heat until warm. Put it around anal area until it cools down (about 10 minutes).
- Antidote of Opium Overdose
Since centuries ago, Chinese people have used wormwood as an opium antidote. Some centuries ago, it was a culture to use opium, to the point that many people got overdosed and died. As an antidote, people drink ¾ cup of fresh wormwood juice.
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- Treatment of Rheumatism and Arthritis
Fresh wormwood leaves are pounded, and steamed. Then put it on the skin of affected areas (usually joints) until it cools down.
- Warms Acupoints
The dried wormwood leaves are rolled like cigar (called moksa), then lit and placed near the acupoints before acupuncture therapy.
Wormwood Tea for Reproductive Organs Benefits
In Chinese traditional medicine, the most known health benefits of wormwood tea is to cure reproduction problems and as tonic for women after giving birth.
- Tonic after Giving Birth
4 bush trees of wormwood are cleaned, cut into smaller pieces, then boiled in 6 glasses of water until only 2 glasses of water left. After cooled down, strain it, and drink it 2 times day, 1 glass each time. Drink it before meal.
- Aphrodisiac and Treatment of Impotence
15-45 grams of wormwood seeds are pounded into powder, add warm water, and drink it all. This treatment is especially effective for couples who yearn to have children.
- Treatment of Dysmenorrhea (Painful during Menstruation)
One of heatlh benefits of wormwood tea is to ease dysmenorrhea. 15 grams of fresh wormwood leaves are cut thinly and infused in 3 glasses of boiling water. Drink it like tea.
- Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Anti-microbe and anti-fungal properties in wormwood tea can cure STDs. 30 grams of wormwood shoots, stems and flowers are infused in boiling water and drink as tea. We can add honey or milk if we want to.
How to Make Wormwood Tea
Other than the ways described above, we can make wormwood tea as daily beverages.
1 teaspoon of thinly cut fresh woodworm leaves (or ½ teaspoon of dried leaves) is infused in 1 cup of hot water, let it cool down, and add honey to mask the bitter taste. Drink it 3-4 times a day, 2 teaspoons of the tea each time. However, since wormwood has side effects too, it is not advised to consume the tea more than the reccomended dose.
Wormwood Side Effects
Excessive use of wormwood tea can cause stomach cramps, excessive salivation, and retching.
- Pregnant and breasfeeding women: thujone content in wormwood can be dangerous for pregnancies, as it can increase tonicity of uterine muscles.
- However, this effect is desired during labor, as it can help the uterus to contract. It needs more research about usage of wormwood tea during childbirth. Therefore, pregnant women should not consume wormwood tea.
- Children: There is no studies of safe dosage of wormwood for children, so children are not advised to consume wormwood tea.
- People with heart problem should not consume wormwood tea, as it can cause bradycardia (slower heart rhythm).
- People with kidney problems should not consume wormwood tea, as it is known to cause kidney failure in people who already got kidney problems.
- People with allergies and hypersensitivity should not consume wormwood tea, includes people suffered from atopical asthma and contact dermatitis.
Wormwood plant can be found naturally almost everywhere. If we cannot find the plant, we can purchase the dried leaves or capsules containing wormwood powder. However, we must be careful when consuming wormwood tea, because of the side effects.
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