Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum)

Traditional Indications

Wormwood is anthelmintic antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hypnotic, stimulant, tomachic, tonic and vermifuge. Wormwood is a very bitter plant with a long history of use as a medicinal herb. It is valued especially for its tonic effect on the liver, gallbladder and digestive system, and for its vermicidal activity. It is an extremely useful medicine for those with weak and under-active digestion. It increases stomach acid and bile production, improving digestion and the absorption of nutrients. It also eases wind and bloating and, if taken regularly, helps the body return to full vitality after a prolonged illness. It should not be prescribed for children or pregnant women. The extremely bitter quality stimulates the appetite. The bitter taste on the tongue sets off a reflex action, stimulating stomach and other digestive secretions. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine., Wormwood is called Qing Hao. Qing Hao is sweet and bitter and enters the Stomach, Spleen, Liver, Gall Bladder and Kidney channels to clear Heat and transform Damp, strengthen the Stomach and Spleen, clear Toxins, clear Summer Heat, clear fever due to deficiencies, cool Blood and stop bleeding and checks malarial disorders. (2)


A study investigating the suppression of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and other interleukins by Artemisia absinthium extracts reported in in vitro studies found that the findings provide a base to test wormwood in clinical conditions thought to be mediated by increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha such as Chron’s disease. (3)

A study investigating the role of Artemisia absinthium extract on oxidative stress in ameliorating lead induced haematotoxicity concluded that the findings of this study suggest that wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) extract restored the enzymes activities perturbed by exposure to lead, and has a protective role against lipid peroxidation. (4)

A study investigating the role of Artemisia absinthium extract in modulating intracellular signaling mechanisms, in particular its ability to inhibit cell proliferation and promote apoptosis in a human breast carcinoma estrogenic-unresponsive cell line, MDA-MB-231, and an estrogenic-responsive cell line, MCF-7 results suggest that Artemisia absinthium extract-induced anti-proliferative effects on human breast cancer cells could possibly trigger apoptosis in both cell lines through the modulation of Bcl-2 family proteins and the MEK/ERK pathway. This might lead to its possible development as a therapeutic agent for breast cancer following further investigations. (5)

A pilot uncontrolled trial investigating the effect of Artemisia absinthium for poorly responsive early-stage IgA nephropathy concluded that thujone-free wormwood with its favourable safety profile can be an alternative supplement to manage proteinuria in patients with IgA nephropathy due the mechanism indictaed by in vitro and clinical observations that wormwood can decrease Tumor necrosis factor TNF-α levels and that TNF-α is considered to be involved in the pathophysiologic process of this disorder. (6)

1. Future Pfa. Artemisia absinthium - L. 2018.
2. PFAF. Artemisia absinthium 2019.
3. Krebs S, Omer TN, Omer B. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) suppresses tumour necrosis factor alpha and accelerates healing in patients with Crohn's disease - A controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. 2010;17(5):305-9.
4. Kharoubi O, Slimani M, Krouf D, Seddik L, Aoues A. Role of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) extract on oxidative stress in ameliorating lead induced haematotoxicity. African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM. 2008;5(3):263-70.
5. Shafi G, Hasan TN, Syed NA, Al-Hazzani AA, Alshatwi AA, Jyothi A, et al. Artemisia absinthium (AA): a novel potential complementary and alternative medicine for breast cancer. Molecular biology reports. 2012;39(7):7373-9.
6. Krebs S, Omer B, Omer TN, Fliser D. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) for poorly responsive early-stage IgA nephropathy: a pilot uncontrolled trial. American journal of kidney diseases : the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation. 2010;56(6):1095-9.



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