Absinthe — Artemisia absinthium

Absinthium 2008Family – Asteraceae

Part used:Aerial herb

Herbal action: Anthelmintic, febrifuge hemostatic, antiseptic, aromatic, diaphoretic, tonic, and stomachic.

Indications:Kills worms, improves appetite, lowers fevers, promotes menstruation.

Medicinal uses:Wormwood has been used medicinally since antiquity. Many of its uses have been supported by modern research. As a traditional medicine, wormwood was used by herbalists as a bitter to improve digestion, appetite, to fight worm infestations, and to stimulate menstruation. It was also regarded as a useful remedy for liver and gallbladder problems.

The plant is applied externally to bruises and bites. A warm compress has been used to ease sprains and strained muscles. Works best if steeped in vinegar.

The drug, absinthium, is rarely employed, but it might be of value in nervous diseases such as neurasthenia, as it stimulates the cerebral hemispheres, and is a direct stimulant of the cortex cerebri. When taken to excess it produces giddiness and attacks of epileptiform convulsions. Absinthium occurs in the British Pharmacopoeia in the form of extract, infusion and tincture.

The Wormwoods belong to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of more than 180 species. Some of the most notable are Common Wormwood, Mugwort, Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood. In addition, as garden plants, though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in every herb‑garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), Prairie Wormwood (A. frigida)

The genus is named Artemisia from Artemis, the Greek name for Diana. In an early translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius we find:

 ‘Of these worts that we name Artemisia, it is said that Diana did find them and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is Artemisias.’