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Wormwood

Introduction

Wormwood is a shrub that has been used to flavor alcohol. The plant and the oil that comes from it have also been used to ease digestion and swelling in the body. Wormwood can be applied to the skin as an oil or cream. It can also be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. Wormwood can also be made into a tea.

Dosages

500 to 750 milligrams 3 times daily

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis —may ease pain when used with standard treatmentA1
  • Schistosomiasis (flatworms) —may help treat flatworm infection F1

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to use thujone-free wormwood on the skin or to take it orally in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use wormwood.E1, E2

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse such as:

  • People with epilepsy should talk to their doctors before taking wormwood. It may interact with their medicines.
  • People with allergies to certain plants may have allergic reactions to wormwood.E3
 

References

A. Arthritis

A1. Yang M, Guo MY, et al. Effect of Artemisia annua extract on treating active rheumatoid arthritis: A randomized controlled trial. Chin J Integr Med. 2017;23(7):496-503.

B. Crohn Disease

B1. Omer B, Krebs S, et al. 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.

B2. Krebs S, Omer TN, et al. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) suppresses tumour necrosis factor alpha and accelerates healing in patients with Crohn's disease - A controlled clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2010 Apr;17(5):305-309.

C. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

C1. Ng SC, Lam YT, et al. Systematic review: the efficacy of herbal therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;38(8):854-863.

C2. Langhorst J, Wulfert H, et al. Systematic review of complementary and alternative medicine treatments in inflammatory bowel diseases. J Crohns Colitis. 2015 Jan;9(1):86-106.

D. Osteoarthritis

D1. Stebbings S, Beattie E, et al. A pilot randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to investigate the efficacy and safety of an extract of Artemisia annua administered over 12 weeks, for managing pain, stiffness, and functional limitation associated with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Clin Rheumatol. 2016 Jul;35(7):1829-1836.

D2. Hunt S, Stebbings S, et al. An open-label six-month extension study to investigate the safety and efficacy of an extract of Artemisia annua for managing pain, stiffness and functional limitation associated with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. N Z Med J. 2016 Oct 28;129(1444):97-102.

E. Safety

E1. Weisbord SD, Soule JB, et al. Poison on line--acute renal failure caused by oil of wormwood purchased through the Internet. N Engl J Med. 1997 Sep 18;337(12):825-827.

E2. Padosch SA, Lachenmeier DW, et al. Absinthism: a fictitious 19th century syndrome with present impact. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2006 May 10;1:14.

E3. Tang R, Sun JL, et al. Artemisia allergy research in China. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:179426.

F. Schistosomiasis (flatworms)

F1. Munyangi J, Cornet-Vernet L, et al. Effect of Artemisia annua and Artemisia afra tea infusions on schistosomiasis in a large clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2018;51:233-240.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 3/26/2020