Wormwood has a long history in both herbal medicine and the liquor industry. It contains sesquiterpene lactones (e.g. absinthin) that make it extremely bitter, but make it ideal as digestive tonic for various forms of indigestion. It is sometimes classified as an aromatic bitter because it also has high amounts of essential oils that impart a carminative action that relieves colic and gas. In the German herbal tradition it is often used specifically for gall bladder disorders including biliary colic, cholestasis and gallstones.
The infamous liquor Absinthe contains high amounts of wormwood and has been banned or altered in most western countries. Wormwoods contains high amounts of thujone, a neurotoxin that when consumed chronically in high amount alters mood and causes mental disturbances. Van Gogh's depression and psychotic episodes were likely aggravated by his Absinthe addiction.
As the name implies, wormwood is used as an anthelmintic and vermifuge to treat helminth (i.e. worm) infestations of the gastrointestinal tract, but its antimicrobial properties are not just limited to worms. In addition, research studies shows it possess antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic and antiviral properties, making it a useful broad-spectrum antimicrobial. In addition, recent research has revealed it also possesses some anti-inflammatory properties, which may help patients suffering from Crohn's disease stay in remission.
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