Harmful Organism Cleansing: The Benefits of Wormwood

Wormwood Artemisia absinthium

You may have heard wormwood mentioned in conjunction with absinthe, an alcoholic drink made popular during the 19th century and sometimes associated with French artists such as Vincent Van Gogh. Habitual abuse of the drink was thought to cause absinthism, a supposed condition identified by hallucinations, sleeplessness, and other mental issues. It was believed for quite some time that thujone, one of the compounds in wormwood, was responsible for the effects but opinions have shifted with the increase of scientific knowledge and it’s now believed that absinthism was simply a trumped up name for chronic intoxication. After nearly a century, the prohibition of the drink has ended and absinthe has recently made a comeback.

Although I don’t recommend consuming wormwood in the form of 160 proof alcohol, wormwood is a therapeutic herb and its use extends as far back as the early Roman era. Traditional medicine in Asia and Europe have also used wormwood and its extracts for a variety of purposes, including harmful organism cleansing. [1] [2]

Wormwood and Harmful Organisms

Harmful organisms are a problem in every country in the world, they may infest food or water which can lead to their infestation of both humans and animals. In developing nations, the limited availability and affordability of pharmaceutical drugs means that many people must rely on traditional medical remedies. However, even citizens in industrial nations are not always content with simply popping a pill from the pharmacy and also prefer natural alternatives. Wormwood is known to help the body produce an environment that is toxic to harmful organisms. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Harmful organisms are not just a problem with the human population. For the farmer who has hundreds or thousands of livestock, the costs of pharmaceuticals can be staggering. Wormwood might be the answer in some of these situations. Results of a study by the Post Graduate Department of Zoology at the University of Kashmir suggests that wormwood extract may be a natural alternative to commercial drugs for addressing intestinal invaders in sheep. [7]

Additional Benefits of Wormwood

The benefits of wormwood are not limited to its efficacy against harmful organisms. Wormwood also contains compounds known to stimulate digestion by supporting liver and gallbladder function. The benefit can be increased when combined with other digestive herbs such as peppermint and ginger. It’s also been shown to support healthy circulation and resist swelling and irritation. [8] Furthermore, research suggests that wormwood has some neuroprotective properties. [9]

Like many other plants, wormwood is a source of antioxidants. This quality has been back linked to one of its traditional uses in Europe, which is to support the healing of skin wounds. [10] [11] An Algerian study even found that wormwood’s antioxidant action helped revitalize enzyme activity in rats that had been affected by lead exposure. [12]

The Yale University School of Medicine reported a study in which patients with Crohn’s disease were given an herbal blend containing wormwood, or placebo, for a ten week period. Now, very often, people with Crohn’s must take a steroid. However, in this study, it was observed that the patients who took the herbal blend were able to taper off their steroid use and reported improved mood and quality of life, not something often achieved by standard medications. [13]

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Abad MJ, Bedoya LM, Apaza L, Bermejo P. The artemisia L. Genus: a review of bioactive essential oils. Molecules. 2012 Mar 2;17(3):2542-66. doi: 10.3390/molecules17032542. Review.
  2. Guarrera PM. Traditional antihelmintic, antiparasitic and repellent uses of plants in Central Italy. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999 Dec 15;68(1-3):183-92.
  3. Squires JM, Ferreira JF, Lindsay DS, Zajac AM. Effects of artemisinin and Artemisia extracts on Haemonchus contortus in gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus). Vet Parasitol. 2011 Jan 10;175(1-2):103-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.09.011. Epub 2010 Sep 16.
  4. Poiată A, Tuchiluş C, Ivănescu B, Ionescu A, Lazăr MI. Antibacterial activity of some Artemisia species extract. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2009 Jul-Sep;113(3):911-4.
  5. Ferreira JF, Peaden P, Keiser J. In vitro trematocidal effects of crude alcoholic extracts of Artemisia annua, A. absinthium, Asimina triloba, and Fumaria officinalis: trematocidal plant alcoholic extracts. Parasitol Res. 2011 Dec;109(6):1585-92. doi: 10.1007/s00436-011-2418-0. Epub 2011 May 12.
  6. Bora KS, Sharma A. The genus Artemisia: a comprehensive review. Pharm Biol. 2011 Jan;49(1):101-9. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2010.497815. Epub 2010 Aug 3. Review.
  7. Tariq KA, Chishti MZ, Ahmad F, Shawl AS. Anthelmintic activity of extracts of Artemisia absinthium against ovine nematodes. Vet Parasitol. 2009 Mar 9;160(1-2):83-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.10.084. Epub 2008 Oct 28.
  8. Krechina EK, Belorukov VV. Artemisia absinthium L. in complex treatment of inflammatory periodontal disease. Stomatologiia (Mosk). 2012;91(4):22-4. Russian.
  9. Bora KS, Sharma A. Neuroprotective effect of Artemisia absinthium L. on focal ischemia and reperfusion-induced cerebral injury. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jun 16;129(3):403-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.04.030. Epub 2010 May 6.
  10. Craciunescu O, Constantin D, Gaspar A, Toma L, Utoiu E, Moldovan L. Evaluation of antioxidant and cytoprotective activities of Arnica montana L. and Artemisia absinthium L. ethanolic extracts. Chem Cent J. 2012 Sep 9;6(1):97. doi: 10.1186/1752-153X-6-97.
  11. Bora KS, Sharma A. Evaluation of antioxidant and free-radical scavenging potential of Artemisia absinthium. Pharm Biol. 2011 Dec;49(12):1216-23. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.578142. Epub 2011 Oct 15.
  12. Kharoubi O, Slimani M, Krouf D, Seddik L, Aoues A. Role of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) extract on oxidative stress in ameliorating lead induced haematotoxicity. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2008 Apr 10;5(3):263-70.
  13. Omer B, Krebs S, Omer H, Noor TO. Steroid-sparing effect of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) in Crohn’s disease: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Phytomedicine. 2007 Feb;14(2-3):87-95. Epub 2007 Jan 19.

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