Wormwood Tea and Parasite Infection: Risks You Need to Know
A recently televised health show promoted the use of drinking wormwood tea as a way to prevent and treat parasite infection from parasitic species such as roundworms, which are believed to contribute to chronic fatigue syndrome. However, what the show failed to warn viewers of is that wormwood tea is not without side effects that can range from mild irritation and inability to sleep to severe organ damage and possible death.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a shrub native to Europe and Africa, but can be found in North America. Historically, its upper shoots, leaves and flowers are used in traditional herbal medicines, but the plant is known more infamously for the role it played in the history of the mind-altering drink absinthe.
Recorded use of wormwood extract dates back to Biblical times and is known to have been used in the treatment of tapeworms and other gastrointestinal parasites during the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, it was discovered that a distillate of wormwood along with alcohol and some herbs would result in an alcoholic beverage known for its tart taste, a tantalizing blue-green color and mind-altering properties that made it widely popular in Europe among artists and writers such as van Gogh and Oscar Wilde.
The mind-altering property of absinthe is attributed to a natural organic oil-like compound called “thujone” that is found in high concentrations in the wormwood plant. Some studies have indicated that thujone acts on the central nervous system and if consumed in large enough quantities can result in muscle tremors and spasms. Fears that absinthe made from the wormwood plant was addicitive and extremely harmful to health by inducing psychosis and suicide, led to its ban in the early 20th century in Europe and the U.S.
As a herbal remedy, wormwood is claimed to be effective in treating loss of appetite, digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder complaints, irregular menstruation as well as the purging of intestinal worms. As a poultice, it has been used to treat poorly healing wounds, ulcers, skin blotches, and insect bites. However, its uses as an herbal remedy are without scientific backing and it is not recommended by the medical community as a cure or treatment for any medical conditions.