07 December 2010

Wormwood (Artemisia)

The Wormwoods are members of the great family of Compositae and belong to the genus Artemisia, a group consisting of 180 species, of which we have four growing wild in England, the Common Wormwood, Mugwort, Sea Wormwood and Field Wormwood.

In addition, as garden plants, though not native, Tarragon (A. dracunculus) claims a place in every herb-garden, and Southernwood (A. abrotanum), an old-fashioned favourite, is found in many borders, whilst others, such as A. sericea, A. cana and A. alpina, form pretty rockwork shrubs.  

The whole family is remarkable for the extreme bitterness of all parts of the plant: 'as bitter as Wormwood' is a very Ancient proverb.

The genus is named Artemisia from Artemis, the Greek name for Diana. In an early translation of the Herbarium of Apuleius we find:

'Of these worts that we name Artemisia, it is said that Diana did find them and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who first from these Worts set forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is Artemisias.'

The Common Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) held a high reputation in medicine among the Ancients. Tusser (1577), in July's Husbandry, says:
 
'While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine
To save against March, to make flea to refraine:
Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne,
What saver is better (if physick be true)
For places infected than Wormwood and Rue?
It is a comfort for hart and the braine
And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.'

Besides being strewn in chambers as Tusser recommended, it used to be laid amongstuffs and furs to keep away moths and insects.  
 
According to the Ancients, Wormwood counteracted the effects of poisoning by hemlock, toadstools and the biting of the seadragon. The plant was of some importance among the Mexicans, who celebrated their great festival of the Goddess of Salt by a ceremonial dance of women, who wore on their heads garlands of Wormwood.

With the exception of Rue, Wormwood is the bitterest herb known, but it is very wholesome and used to be in much request by brewers for use instead of hops. The leaves resist putrefaction, and have been on that account a principal ingredient in antiseptic fomentations.

Wormwood is an herb of love and a visionary herb ruled by Mars and Pluto. Wormwood is said to enhance prophecy and divination. Wormwood is a good herb to use to remove anger or inhibit enemies. Wormwood was once burned in all incenses designed to raise spirits, and now is used as incense in exorcisim and protection blends. It is associated with the Lovers card in the Tarot, and also serves as a patron plant of herbalists.

Wormwood contains "thujone" which causes mind-altering changes and can lead to psychosis. It depresses the central nervous system. Some use Wormwood to treat anxiety, for it acts as a mild sedative. It is also used to stimulate the appetite. Wormwood has been used as a flavoring agent in alcoholic beverages, such as Vermouth, bitters, and liqueurs. The essential oil was in great demand for the manufacture of the French liqueur "Absinthe" until it was found to be addictive.
 
In olden days it was traditionally used as an anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, to improve blood circulation, as a cardiac stimulant, as a pain reliever for women during labor, as an agent against tumors and cancers, for colds, rheumatism, fevers, jaundice, diabetes, and arthritis.


1 comment:

  1. June 12, 2014

    The Director
    The Musings of a High Priestess


    Dear Sir,

    Subject: Request for permission for reproducing copyrighted material

    Many greetings from Bangladesh.

    I am pleased to inform you that I have written a manuscript on Medicine and Pharmacy. The manuscript is now getting ready for publication. It contains 25 chapters and nearly 1000 pages. The manuscript is aimed at filling up the gap of original work on Medicine and Pharmacy in the light of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Bible and the Qur’an. In the manuscript there is a chapter on Prophet’s Medicinal Plants. I have primarily selected several images of Wormwood (Artemisia maritima Linn.) plant after searching the websites. I intend to paste one or two images of good resolution at the appropriate places in the manuscript. Please let me know how I can add credit to you for the image I have short-listed from your site.

    I therefore, need your kind permission for reproducing the picture, which may be subject to copyright, in my manuscript. As a source of the images you will be acknowledged in the text. Please note that I have already received permission from Ta Ha Publishers UK, Darussalam Publishers, Riyadh and from some other internationally reputed publishers, individual authors and websites.


    I look forward to welcoming your kind permission towards a noble work for the benefit and welfare of mankind. Please treat the matter urgent.

    With best regards,

    Yours faithfully,

    M M Hussain, PhD (Pharm)
    Email: dmmhqiabd@gmail.com

    Image location:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_x-YsGU20MW4/TP1cV_qP8ZI/AAAAAAAADG8/Kf-VD-OXCzg/s200/wormwood.jpg

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