How Wormwood Is Used in Absinthe and Its Benefits 

Wormwood is an herb well-known for its herbaceous flavor and distinctive aroma. The herb is shrubby with greenish-silver stems, yellow-green leaves, and bright or pale-yellow bulbous flowers. It’s the flowers and leaves that are shredded and added to beverages like Absinthe. The herb also wields immense healing properties, among other purported health benefits 

Though a native European herb, Wormwood grows in other parts of the world, including Asia, South America, Africa, and the United States. The plant grows every year, with its blossoming expected at the start of summer to mid-autumn. More than 200 Wormwood plants are in the genus Artemisia where Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) falls. 

However, Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a widely known Wormwood plant due to its perceived health benefits. It’s also the only Wormwood plant type you can use in the distillation process for authentic Absinthe. 


Wormwood and Absinthe 

Absinthe is arguably the first thing most people think about when you mention Wormwood. This alcoholic beverage has its origins in France and uses Wormwood’s ‘absinthol’ compound as its vital ingredient. The drink is emerald-green and is prepared from wormwood oil and other herbs like green anise and fennel.  

To use Wormwood in Absinthe, the levels of thujone should be above 15 mg/l but less than 35 mg/l. Thujone is the potentially poisonous chemical compound found in the Wormwood herb. Mixing Wormwood with alcohol increases the thujone concentration, making it potentially hazardous if not properly consumed. 

Most countries only allow consumption of Absinthe with thujone levels of below 9mg/l. These are seen as thujone-free and ideal for healthy consumption. However, a good Absinthe experience can only be derived from the real absinthe with Wormwood instead of the thujone-free imitations.  


Benefits of Wormwood  

Modern research trials aim to explore Wormwood’s potential efficacy in treating diseases like malaria, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. More clinical human trials are needed to establish the herb’s overall medicinal worth to human life. Still, there are possible Wormwood benefits that are worth mentioning, such as: 


Impact on Digestive Health 

One of the leading causes of weak digestion is low stomach acid or acid reflux. It occurs when the stomach acid is weak and unable to digest food properly. Wormwood stimulates the production of Hydrochloric acid (HCL), a critical stomach acid essential for proper digestion.  

Wormwood also stimulates the release of bile from the liver and its subsequent storage in the gallbladder. This occurs alongside other secretions from the intestinal glands that enhance the body’s ability to digest food.   

Traditionally, Wormwood has been mainly used to alter how the body responds to nerve signals and alert you to the ideal time to eat. This is known as cephalic phase response and can create better conditions for digestion due to increased stomach enzyme production. 


Pain Relief 

Wormwood has anti-inflammatory properties that might help with chronic pain management. The herb contains phytochemicals with powerful anti-inflammatory activities on osteoarthritis, a painful condition resulting from joint inflammation. Applying a small concentration of Wormwood skin ointment might help improve pain levels and physical function in the joints.  

Wormwood also has Artemisinin, another key plant compound helpful in fighting inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation is associated with several chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and dementia.  

Remember that Wormwood has highly concentrated compounds and may result in burns if directly applied to the skin.  


Improves Liver Health  

Wormwood has a hepatoprotective effect on the human body due to its anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory properties. These anti-oxidation properties are derived from the chamazulene compound found in the herb’s essential oils during the pre-flowering stage.  

Anti-oxidation is key in reducing liver damage. You can use Wormwood moderately in its unchanged form to clear out congestion in the liver. Similarly, Wormwood’s antioxidant properties may relieve your body from oxidative stress and help fight conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. 



Wormwood’s Effective Dosing 

Wormwood has highly concentrated compounds and should not be taken without proper dosing control. The appropriate dose should also depend on the user’s health and age. Currently, you won’t find enough scientific information to guide you on the proper dosage range of Wormwood. However, be keen to follow the information on any Wormwood product label and consult a healthcare professional before using it. 


Possible Side Effects of Wormwood  

You can use Wormwood both for short-term and long-term benefits. This applies whether you plan to consume it through Absinthe or as a raw herb. Keep in mind that the unaltered wormwood plant has a high concentration of thujone, which can become toxic even in small amounts. Prolonged use without caution may also lead to possible side effects like 

  • Insomnia 
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness 
  • Hallucinations 

Wormwood’s perceived toxic compounds also mean that people with certain medical conditions should not consume the herb without medical advice. These include; 

  • Epileptic Patients 

Wormwood may cause more seizures and reduce the effects of some anti-epilepsy drugs. 

  • Kidney disease Patients 

The toxicity in Wormwood’s thujone compound may worsen the condition and lead to kidney failure. 

  • Pregnant Mothers 

Many studies link Wormwood to miscarriages in expectant mothers. 


Final Thoughts 

Wormwood has been used in Absinthe for decades. There’s a huge belief the plant helps improve Absinthe by giving it a different aroma and flavor. Though you can use unaltered Wormwood without mixing it in Absinthe, it’s essential to discuss it with your doctor first. In most cases, using Wormwood without proper medical advice may lead to severe side effects. Wormwood is also unsafe for children. 

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