Medicinal Uses of Artemisia Herb
By Renata Trister DO
Artemisia commonly known as Wormwood is a perennial shrub-like plant of the aster family. It is the main ingredient of Absinthe, an alcoholic beverage.
Artemisia is one of the strongest bitters in the plant kingdom.
Artemisia’s biologically active compounds include:
Acetylenes (trans-dehydromatricaria ester, C13 and C14 trans-spiroketalenol ethers, and others)
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Azulenes (chamazulene, dihydrochamazulenes, bisabolene, camphene, cadinene, sabinene, trans-sabinylacetate, phellandrene, pinene and others)
Flavonoids (quercitin 3-glucoside, quercitin 3-rhamnoglucoside, spinacetin 3-glucoside, spinacetin 3-rhamnoglucoside, and others)
Lignins (diayangambin and epiyangambin)
Phenolic acids (p-hydroxyphenylacetic, p-coumaric, chlorogenic, protocatechuic, vanillic, syringic and others)
Thujone and isothujone
sesquiterpene lactones (absinthin, artabsin, anabsinthin, artemetin, artemisinin, arabsin, artabin, artabsinolides, artemolin, matricin, isoabsinthin and others)
It also contains the anti-inflammatory agents artemisin and anabsinthine that gives this plant its bitter taste.
The bitter substances absithin and anabsinthin are thought to improve digestions and stimulate the digestive system. Historically, this herb was used as an herbal remedy for gallbladder, liver and stomach ailments.
It has been used traditionally as a natural treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colds, chronic fever, heartburn and to enhance the immune system.
Many people turn to natural and alternative treatments when it comes to problems with their gastrointestinal health, and for good reason. Studies show that herbal remedies like wormwood are as good or even better at fighting small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO symptoms.
Today’s typical treatment of SIBO is limited to oral antibiotics with varying rates of effectiveness. A 2014 study had 104 patients who tested positive for newly diagnosed SIBO take either a high dose of rifaximin or an herbal therapy daily for four weeks. The herbal products were specifically chosen because they contained antimicrobial herbs like wormwood, oregano oil, thyme and berberine extracts, which have been shown to provide broad-spectrum coverage against the types of bacteria most commonly involved in SIBO.
Of the patients who received herbal therapy, 46 percent showed no evidence of SIBO on follow-up tests compared to 34 percent of rifaximin users. Adverse effects reported among those taking rifaximin included anaphylaxis, hives, diarrhea and C. difficile colitis, while only one case of diarrhea and no other side effects were reported in the herbal therapy group.
The study concluded that herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin for eradication of SIBO. Additionally, the herbal therapy with wormwood appears to be just as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for individuals who don’t respond to rifaximin. Artemisin also enhances the natural gastric acid and wall barrier.
This herb has anti-infective properties and has been used topically to treat wounds, cuts, and bruises to speed the healing process and prevent infection.
Due to the slight natural anesthetic effect of the herb, it has been used to ease pain associated with arthritis and rheumatism.
An extract made from the plant has been used for centuries as an herbal medicine to rid the body of intestinal worms like round worms and pin worms. This is how the common name wormwood was derived.
Recent experiments have shown that artemisin is effective against the malaria parasite because it reacts with the high levels of iron in the parasite to produce free radicals. The free radicals then destroy the cell walls of the malaria parasite.
Wormwood is thought to have a calming effect and could be helpful to those suffering from epilepsy and muscle spasms and to treat mild forms of depression.
This plant is also also used as an insect repellent.