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Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • 3,6- dihydrochamazulene, 3-rhamnoglucoside, 5,6-dihydrochamazulene, absinthe, absinthic acid, absinthin, absinthinin, absinthium, absinthol, acetylenes, argy wormwood, ai ye, alpha-thujone, Ambrosia elatior, Ambrosia tenuifolia, anabsinthin, angry wormwood, annual wormwood, arabsin, artabsin, artabsinolides, artelinic acid, artemether, artemetin, Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia afra, Artemisia annua, Artemisia argyi, Artemisia camphorate, Artemisia japonica, Artemesia maritime, Artemisia mendozana, Artemesia pontica, Artemisia princeps, Artemisia roxburghiana, Artemisia tangutica, Artemisia verlotorum, artemisinin, artemolin, artemotil, artenimol, artesunate, Asteraceae (family), azulenes, beta-pinene, beta-thujone, bisabolene, C13 trans-spiroketal enol ether, C14 trans-spiroketal enol ether, cadinene, camphene, camphor, chamazulene, Chinese wormwood, cineole, diayangambin, dihydroartemisinin (DHA), epiyangambin, fenchone, flavonoids, green fairy, Japanese wormwood, isoabsinthin, isovalerianic acid, lignans, liqueur absinthe, malic acid, matricin, monoterpene ketones, mugwort leaf, nitrate of potash, Parthenium hysterophorus, p-coumaric, phellandrene, phenolic acids, p-hydroxyphenylacetic, pinene, pinocamphone, protocatechuic, pulegone, qinghao (Chinese), qinghaosu (Chinese), quercetin 3-glucoside, quercetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, resin, Roxburgh wormwood, sabinene, sabinylacetate, sesquiterpene lactone peroxide, sesquiterpene lactones, sodium artesunate, spinacetin 3-glucoside, spinacetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, starch, succinic acid, sweet wormwood, syringic, Tangut wormwood, tannin, tenacetone, thujone, thujyl alcohol, trans-dehydromatricaria ester, trans-sabinylacetate, vanillic acid, vintage absinthes, volatile oils, Wermutkraut (German).
  • Combination product examples: SedaCrohn® (wormwood, rose, cardamom seeds, and mastic resin), Riamet® (artemether and lumefantrine), and Coartem® (artemether and lumefantrine).
  • Note: This monograph focuses on common wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and does not specifically include clinical trials investigating the effects of isolated constituents or derivatives of wormwood, such as absinthinin, artemisinin, or artemether.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has suggested using wormwood or qinghaosu. The earliest written documents on wormwood suggested that it be used to treat hemorrhoids, and, by AD 340, wormwood was thought to lower fevers.
  • Wormwood is an active ingredient of absinthe, and, in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, it acquired a reputation for triggering psychotic events, called absinthism. Absinthe was banned throughout Western Europe. Modern analyses suggest that the hallucinogenic properties of absinthe are a myth, and, because the early studies did not separate the effects of drinking an excessive amount of absinthe from drinking absinthe, they confused the two factors. Absinthe, a liqueur, has consequently returned to the market (1;2;3;4;5).
  • Wormwood and several of its derivatives, including absinthinin, artemether, artesunate, and artemisinin, have been studied for their effects on various conditions. Artemisinin has been studied for treating malaria, including highly drug-resistant strains (6;7). Currently, preferred treatments for malaria are combination therapies that include artemisinin derivatives (artemisinin-combination therapies, or ACTs). Use of artemisinin as a monotherapy is strongly discouraged by the World Health Organization, due to the potential for malarial parasites to develop resistance to the drug. Detailed analyses of clinical trials investigating the effects of isolated constituents or derivatives of wormwood, such as artemisinin, have not been included in this monograph.
  • At this time, there is insufficient available evidence on the use of Artemisia absinthium for any condition. More high-quality research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.