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”).
What Is Wormwood used for?
In ancient Greece, wormwood was most commonly used for the expulsion of worms – hence the name wormwood, although Hippocrates prescribed it for menstrual pains, jaundice, anemia and rheumatism. Today, the primary use of wormwood remains the same—it is one of nature’s greatest anthelmintic herbs for killing and removing parasites from the body.
What are the Health Benefits of Wormwood?
Wormwood for Parasite Cleansing
The compounds in wormwood are powerfully anthelmintic (anti-parasitic), and this is the most common use of wormwood plant. A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. In humans, parasites that live inside us use up our vitamins, proteins and other nutrients, depriving us of optimal nutrition. Not only do they steal nutrients from our body, they also eliminate waste inside us, releasing their toxic bacteria and viruses. Parasites are most commonly found in the colon, however, any part of the body is vulnerable to infestation: the lungs, liver, brain, blood, muscles, joints, skin, etc.
One of the primary active compounds in the wormwood plant is a chemical called thujone. Thujone is well known for being a major ingredient in the alcoholic beverage absinthe, and it is derived from the wormwood plant. Wormwood is also the source of the key ingredient for the herbal drug artemisinin, which is revered as the most powerful anti-malarial on the market.
Thujone has very strong anti-parasitic properties. It actually has the effect of causing worms to lose consciousness, knocking them out and causing them to loosen their jaws from the intestinal wall, making it easier for them to be flushed from the body. A 2018 animal study published in the Journal of Helminthology showed that wormwood induced worm paralysis, death and ultrastructural alternations.
Because of the antiparasitic properties of wormwood, people have been consuming wormwood for thousands of years all over the world. As the name implies, wormwood is primarily for getting rid of worms. Wormwood is used to eliminate many different intestinal worms, including pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms. It does have anti-parasitic effects on other types of parasites as well, but most of the research and traditional uses for wormwood involve parasitic worms specifically.
While thujone is the primary active compound responsible for wormwood’s parasite killing properties, it does have many other active compounds that contribute to this effect as well. Wormwood contains:
- acetylenes (trans-dehydromatricaria ester, C13 and C14 trans-spiroketalenol ethers, and others)
- ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
- azulenes (chamazulene, dihydrochamazulenes, bisabolene, camphene, cadinene, sabinene, trans-sabinylacetate, phellandrene, pinene and others)
- flavonoids (quercitin 3-glucoside, quercitin 3-rhamnoglucoside, spinacetin 3-glucoside, spinacetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, and others)
- lignins (diayangambin and epiyangambin)
- phenolic acids (p-hydroxyphenylacetic, p-coumaric, chlorogenic, protocatechuic, vanillic, syringic and others)
- thujone and isothujone
- sesquiterpene lactones (absinthin, artabsin, anabsinthin, artemetin, artemisinin, arabsin, artabin, artabsinolides, artemolin, matricin, isoabsinthin and others)
Wormwood has long been used for killing parasites. It has plenty of scientific research to back up this use, as well as hundreds of years of traditional use. Researchers have concluded that the chemical thujone is primarily responsible for these anti-parasitic properties. Thujone is a very strong compound, however, and it is important to follow the recommended dosages when taking wormwood for killing parasites. Too much wormwood can be harmful to the body so make sure to consume responsibly and only for medicinal use. Wormwood is not something that you want to take on a regular basis, but wormwood is great for killing parasites.
While the subject of parasites is complex, and there is still much that we need to learn, we do know that the most effective way to cleanse parasites from the body is by utilizing the famous formula “wormwood complex.” Wormwood complex is a traditional parasite remedy containing three powerful anti-parasitic herbs: Green Black Walnut Hull, Wormwood, and Fresh Cloves. These herbs have strong anthelmintic properties, meaning they are wonderful at expelling parasitic worms from the body. Together, these three herbs make up the ingredients in our Zuma Nutrition Parasite Cleanse Tonic.
Our formula is a high-grade concentration of these herbs extracted in 85% organic alcohol making for a very therapeutic and effective formula. The combination of these three herbs helps support the body's effective detoxification of both the egg and the adult stages of 100 different internal parasites, including amoebas, giardia, many worms, and liver flukes.
To get rid of parasites, one can undergo a parasite cleanse by diligently consuming this formula, following the recommended dosage of ½ a dropper full each night. The cleanse is also greatly supported by drinking a lot of purified water, and consuming anti-parasitic foods such as pumpkin seeds, papaya, raw garlic, chilies, raw honey, bitter greens, probiotics, and others.
Cleansing with this formula a couple times each year, eating a balanced whole foods diet, and following proper eating protocols that support digestion, while also doing your best to avoid some of the major sources of parasitic infection is the best way to maintain a healthy body free of harmful parasites.
Wormwood for parasites goes back to ancient Greece as many believe the word "wormwood" stems from it's ability to kill parasites. To put it simply, wormwood kills parasites. Of all the plants in the plant kingdom, wormwood is one of the top three anthelmintic herbs due to it's potent phytochemicals that make it an effective remedy for gut health and longevity.
If you are suffering from bloating, indigestion, or any general gut ailments, consider doing a wormwood parasite cleanse as detailed in our guide. Our wormwood parasite cleanse can be found in this guide, "How to do a Parasite Cleanse Safely and Effectively".
Wormwood Helps Improve Digestion and Cleanse the Liver
Wormwood is a very 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 herb, 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.
Wormwood is used for Treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
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.
Wormwood is used as an Anti-Inflammatory herb
Wormwood herb contains the phytochemicals "azulenes", compounds which are proven to have powerful anti-inflammatory activity. Inflammation is not a bad thing in itself. Inflammation is simply your body's natural way of protecting itself from infection, illness, or injury. The issue arises when inflammation becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation, also referred to as slow, long-term inflammation, lasts for prolonged periods of several months to years, and is considered to be one of the most damaging and widespread health issues that most people face today, and it lies at the root of almost every major disease.
This anti-inflammatory effect of azulenes 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 is used for Pain Relief
Wormwood has long been sought for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, this herb may help relieve osteoarthritis, a painful condition resulting from joint inflammation.
In a 4-week study in 90 adults with knee osteoarthritis, applying a 3% wormwood skin ointment 3 times daily helped improve both pain levels and physical function. All the same, it didn’t reduce stiffness.
It should be noted that the plant itself should never be directly applied to the skin, as its compounds are too concentrated and can result in painful burns.
Wormwood Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Recent research on Wormwood uncovered that it also boosts antioxidants and scavenges free radicals in the whole body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation and can either be beneficial or harmful.
Essentially, oxidation is any chemical reaction that involves the moving of electrons. Specifically, it means the substance that gives away electrons is oxidized. Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. However, oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. This can result in damaged cells and ultimately ill health.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Antioxidants can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive. As oxidation is a process that is constantly occurring due to numerous chemical reactions in the body, antioxidants must also regularly work to keep free radicals in balance.
What are the Active Compounds in Wormwood Plant?
Wormwood contains many phytochemical compounds—namely, lactones, terpenoids (e.g., trans-thujone, γ-terpinene, 1,4-terpeniol, myrcene, bornyl acetate, cadinene camphene, trans-sabinyl acetate, guaiazulene, chamazulene, camphor, and linalool), essential oils, organic acids, resins, tannins, and phenols. It also contains flavonoids (e.g., quercitin), flavonoid glycosides such as isorhamnetin-3-O-rhamnose glucoside, isoquercitrin, quercitin-3-O-D-glucoside, quercetin-3-O-rhamnoglucoside, and isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, and phenolic acids (coumaric, syringic, salicylic, chlorogenic, and vanillic acids) which contribute to free radical scavenging mechanism.
Is Wormwood Safe?
For most people, wormwood is a safe and effective herb for many uses. However, because of how strong some of the active compounds in wormwood are, it isn’t recommended to take for long periods of time. There are also some contraindications for certain groups.
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.
Some studies have shown that taking wormwood with the heart disease medication warfarin may cause intestinal bleeding.
If you’re allergic to members of the Asteraceae family, such as ragweed and marigolds, you may also react to wormwood, which is in the same botanical family.
High doses of wormwood may result in digestive upset, kidney failure, nausea, vomiting, and seizures. However, you’re unlikely to experience these side effects if you’re taking it in small doses, such as those found in tea and most supplements. Please only consume the recommended doses of this herb.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) is a powerful medicinal plant that has been used for thousands of years, and modern science has also verified 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 and liver due to its bitter compounds that stimulate bile production.
In ancient Greece, wormwood was most commonly used for the expulsion of worms, and this continues to be one of the primary uses of this herb today. Wormwood is one of the ingredients in the famous “wormwood complex” along with green black walnut hulls and fresh cloves—and these are also the primary ingredients in our Zuma Nutrition Parasite Detox Formula. These three herbs are considered the most potent parasite killing herbs by most functional medicine practitioners.
In our formula, we have taken it a step further than most wormwood complexes, and have extracted these herbs into an organic cane alcohol tincture that offers a therapeutic dosage in a single dropper. It is very effective for detoxing parasites from the body. Read our blog "How to do a Parasite Cleanse Safely and Effectively" and "How to Mitigate Parasite Die Off Effects" for more information on how to use wormwood as a part of a health cleansing regimen.
For most people, wormwood is a safe and effective herb for many uses. However, because of how strong some of the active compounds in wormwood are, it isn’t recommended to take for long periods of time. There are also some contraindications for certain groups. It is recommended to only consume wormwood in small doses and 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.