Wormwood sounds like an herb that you would receive from a shaman during a medieval quest. Believe it or not, wormwood is one of the three key ingredients in absinthe, which Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, and Vincent Van Gogh used to drink. Maybe that’s why they were such incredible artists!
What Is Wormwood?
Wormwood, known scientifically as Artemisia absinthium, helps to eliminate intestinal worms, specifically roundworms and pinworms. The plant, which is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, has a bitter taste and has been used for centuries in medicinal applications. Researchers note that wormwood is a perennial herb that exhibits a wide range of health benefits. Continue reading to learn about six of the many impressive health benefits of wormwood.
According to historical evidence, wormwood has helped treat flatulence, indigestion, gastritis, and other digestive issues. Wormwood contains bitter compounds that stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which enhance the absorption of nutrients from the foods you eat. The terpenes in wormwood also stimulate saliva, stomach mucus, and intestinal secretions, all of which may ease digestive symptoms. Wormwood may also reduce stomach acids that contribute to acid reflux and peptic ulcers.
It Exhibits Anti-inflammatory Properties
Wormwood contains artemisinin, a compound that researchers believe to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. A few studies suggest that wormwood may also temper the actions of cytokines, which are proteins that help instigate inflammation. In doing so, wormwood may ease redness, warmth, swelling, and other symptoms of inflammation. Most of the research about wormwood’s anti-inflammatory properties have been focused on people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. A 2016 study monitored people who took 150 milligrams of wormwood extract per day for 12 weeks. The results indicated that they experienced less joint pain than the group that took a placebo.
It Has Antimicrobial and Anti-parasitic Effects:
Wormwood has exhibited potent antimicrobial properties against many pathogens, from bacteria to fungi, and even parasites. Studies show that wormwood is most effective when it comes to eliminating pinworms and roundworms from the body. Other studies found wormwood to be effective against gut parasites like Giardia lamblia and Helicobacter pylori. For these reasons, wormwood may be a promising natural alternative to traditional anti-parasitic medications or drugs.
Enhances Liver Function
Historically, wormwood was used to help support liver function. Wormwood contains compounds that help promote the secretion of bile, aiding in the breakdown of fats and toxins. Reports suggest that regular consumption of wormwood may help detoxify the liver, which helps protect it from free radical damage.
May Fight Cancer Cells
Several studies found that the artemisinin compound in wormwood may fight against iron-enriched breast cancer cells. It actually fights these cancer cells the same way it eliminates malaria-causing parasites. Cancer cells can be rich in iron because they soak it up, which facilitates cell division. A 2012 study tested samples of breast cancer cells and normal breast cells that had been treated to maximize iron content. After that, the cells were treated with a water-soluble form of artemisinin. Results revealed that normal breast cells showed little change. Within 16 hours, however, the cancer cells were dead, with only a few normal cells killed.
May Offer Pain Relief
In the past, wormwood was used in herbal remedies as a pain-reliever. Because it contains analgesic properties, wormwood may alleviate various forms of discomfort, including headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle pain. Researchers don’t fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects, so more research is necessary.
Although wormwood offers a variety of health benefits, it is crucial to exercise caution when using it. Because wormwood contains thujone, a compound that can be toxic if consumed in excessive amounts, there are certain people that should avoid it. Pregnant women, individuals with seizure disorders, and those with liver disease should not consume wormwood. Should you want to incorporate wormwood into your diet, consider speaking with a healthcare professional, especially if you have a health condition or take specific medications.