What Is Wormwood?
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) is a plant that has been used medicinally for centuries, and while many believe the name originated from this herb’s ability to kill intestinal parasites, it has also been speculated to have come from the Anglo-Saxon word “wermode,” meaning “mind preserver.” In the 16th century, it was thought to counteract the poisonous effects of hemlock and toadstools.
Wormwood has perhaps gained the most notoriety for one of its active ingredients “absinthol”, used in the French liquor “Absinthe.” However, this potent herb has a long history of use stretching back into Ancient Greece and the time of Hippocrates (known as the father of modern medicine, who is well known for the statement “let food be thy medicine”). It was most commonly used for the expulsion of worms – hence the name wormwood, although Hippocrates prescribed it for menstrual pains, jaundice, anemia and rheumatism.
How Do Wormwood’s Coumponds Affect the Body?
The main phytochemical constituents of wormwood include volatile oils, which are comprised predominantly of monoterpenes (a- and B-thujone, linalool) and bitter sesquiterpene lactones. It is advised not to consume wormwood if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and to only consume it in small doses for no more than 4-5 weeks at a stretch, as wormwood is extremely potent and can be harmful if consumed for long periods of time.
Wormwood is a bitter herb affecting the bitter sensing taste buds that send signals to the brain to stimulate the entire digestive system, (salivation, stomach acid production, intestinal tract movement). It also stimulates the release of bile from the liver, the storage of bile in the gallbladder and other secretions from the intestinal glands, which will enhance the body’s ability to digest food. A common cause of weak digestion is too little stomach acid (for example, acid reflux is the result of weak stomach acid that is unable to properly digest food). Hydrochloric acid (HCL) production is stimulated by wormwood, which optimizes bowel flora while also killing off dangerous organisms such as Helicobacter Pylori which can lead to duodenal ulcers if left untreated. It can also help the recovery from long term illness by improving the uptake of nutrients.
The Use of Wormwood as Treatment
Recent evidence has shown that wormwood can be an effective treatment for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). One particular study found that 84% of IBS patients tested positive for SIBO. This bacterial overgrowth can break down the lining of your stomach leading to “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” Once the lining has been compromised it leaves the immune system exposed to foreign particles from food, bacteria and other microbes. This can then trigger an immune response that will irritate the enteric nervous system, creating the havoc that can lead to IBS and many other problems. Wormwood, along with other anti-microbial herbs such as oregano and thyme, have been shown to provide broad-spectrum coverage against the types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.
Worms - especially roundworms and pinworms are effectively neutralized by Wormwood. General parasitic infections are commonly treated with Wormwood, Black Walnut and Clove—these three herbs taken together are said to break the life cycle of the parasite, thus killing off the infection.
The Anti-inflammatory Effect of Wormwood
Wormwood contains the phytochemicals "azulenes", compounds which are proven to have powerful anti-inflammatory activity. While inflammation is a necessary step in the healing process—persistent, low level inflammation is at the root of practically all known chronic health conditions, including everything from rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol to dementia. This anti-inflammatory effect is responsible for the relief wormwood can provide from the pain and swelling of arthritis. Wormwood has also demonstrated hepatoprotective effects in animal models by reducing oxidation and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties, thereby reducing liver damage. It can also be used as part of a liver flush to clear out congestion in this important organ.
Wormwood has been used for thousands of years, and modern science also verifies many of its medicinal uses. It is a powerful anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory herb that is also of great benefit to the digestive tract.