Wormwood Herbal


Artemisia absinthium

PART USED: Whole herb

PROPERTIES: Bitter (very), Vermifuge, Anti-inflammatory (there are others that are better and gentler)

SYSTEMS AFFECTED: Digestive, Lymphatic

POSSIBLE USES: digestive bitter (with caution), parasites, radiation poisoning (again, with caution)


Today Wormwood is used mostly as an herbal bitter—a very bitter digestive and lymphatic stimulant and cleanser. “As bitter as Wormwood” is a very ancient proverb. Wormwood is also mentioned in this context in the Bible. “But her end is as bitter as Wormwood. . .” and C. S. Lewis named his devil/tempter Wormwood, a fitting appellation, I think.

Wormwood is VERY effective as a bitter herb in stimulating the digestion by increasing bile production, and it also very thoroughly cleanses the lymphatic system. Wormwood is so powerful that it has been used to expel tapeworms, threadworms, and roundworms from people and their pets for many, many years. It is advisable to start with VERY small doses for any kind of digestive or lymphatic use as Wormwood is a potent cathartic and does not treat the patient kindly. Overdose would be so easy to bring about!

As you can probably tell, I am more than a bit leery of Wormwood—by itself, rather than as a small portion of a formula— for regular use. There are so many other, gentler but effective, herbs to accomplish Wormwood’s basic tasks that I almost never use it as a single herb. If too much Wormwood is ingested, the digestive system and the intestinal tract will be so completely stripped as to make a serious and lengthy rebuild period necessary. As part of a formula, the benefits of Wormwood may be experienced without the drawbacks.

Wormwood has a reputation for protecting the body from radiation sickness, but Wormwood is such a harsh herb that it would need to be used with great caution or the “cure” sought for with Wormwood might be worse than the symptoms of the radiation treatment. Ginseng is said to be used for radiation poisoning, and would be nourishing and aid in the rebuilding of the body.

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