Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium)

I've been reading in Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices lately. This is something I'm always doing with my various herb books. And I find out interesting items all the time. I thought I'd pass this section on Wormwood on to you.

I haven't found wormwood in the wild here yet. But I happened to see some at the wine supply store I visited recently. They had some wormwood there for flavoring for beer, I think. Or to make absinthe with perhaps. So I bought a couple of packets since the herb looked nice and green.

Here's what Heinerman's had to say about a few uses for this herb:

Overpowering Relief for Pain

The team of Simon, Chadwick and Craker in their Herbs--An Indexed Bibliography (1971-80) mentions that "wormwood has been used as a pain reliever for women during labor and against tumors and cancers." An alcoholic tincture of the same applied externally often has a profound effect in relieving the soreness of aching muscles, the hurt accompanying swollen, arthritic joints, and the terrific pain felt with a bad sprain, dislocated shoulder/knee or fractured bone.

The following episode was related by the eldest son of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. The prophet's son was a teenager residing in Nauvoo, Illinois at the time he had his experience with wormwood.

"Our carriage had stopped by the roadside for lunch and to rest the horses. Upon getting back into my seat after the brief interval, I thoughtlessly put my hand around one of the carriage posts, and as the driver closed the door, two of my fingerts were pretty badly crushed.

"The wounds bled freely and Mother (Emma Smith) bound them up with some cloths from her bag, and we traveled on. My fingers became very painful, and after a while we stopped at a farmhouse. Mother unwrapped them, soaking the temporary dressing off with warm water and rewrapped them with fresh cloths. Taking from her trunk a little bottle of whiskey and wormwood, she turned the tips of my fingers upward, and poured the liquid upon them, into the dressings--at which, for the first time in my life I promptly fainted! It seemed as if she had poured the strong medicine directly upon my heart, so sharply it stung and so quick was its circulatory effect.

When I returned to consciousness I was lying on a lounge against the wall and Mother was bathing my face most solicitiously. I soon recovered and we proceeded on our journey, reaching home in good time and without further mishap."

To make an effective tincture for relieving excruciating pain, combine 1 1/2 cup of finely cut herb or else 8 tbsp. of the powdered herb in 2 cups of Jim Beam whiskey. Shake the jar daily, allowing the wormwood to extract for 11 days. Let the herbs settle and then pour off the tincture, straining out the powder though a fine cloth or paper coffee filter. Rebottle and seal with a tight lid until needed. Store in a cool, dry place. When using this tincture to relieve external pain, remember that because of its strong potency a little bit goes a long way! Wormwood oil used externally can relieve pain too.

End Excerpt

Hmmmmmm. Now that sounds like a handy tincture to have around, doesn't it? So, I used the wormwood I had purchased from the wine supply store and made a tincture with it as directed. I'm not sure of the quality of the wormwood purchased, so this one may not work out, but I'll let you know. If wormwood grows around you, you might want to give this a try. Heinerman also says that the wormwood tincture can be used internally to rid people of intestinal parasites: "Using an eyedropper, put 10 drops of tincture in with 1 tsp. of honey or molasses. Mix well before eating. The honey or molasses helps to alleviate the bitter taste of the tincture."



Anonymous said...

if that stuff works I need to find me some. My hip stays swelled up, but I don't know if wormwood would help since my hip is growing that way.........

Patricia said...

Charli, don't know if it would work on a swollen hip--might help with the pain of it, but would not likely do much for the swelling. If it works, I'll let you know!

Jas Williams said...

I also have read this book upon suggestion from an elder neighbor when I complained about aching joints. She also gave me a tincture and it has definitely helped.

Anonymous said...

I love that you used a story from the Prophet Joseph Smith's son who injured his hand in a carriage door.

I have been making Wormwood Tincture's for about 2yrs now. I started off with just making a small 4oz batch the first time I tried. I was new to making tinctures and at that time hadn't yet discovered all the wonderful pain relieving properties of Wormwood tincture.

To get the most effective pain relieving tincture, only use the type of wormwood known as: Artemisia Absynthium. I prefer to use 190 proof grain alcohol when making medicinal grade tinctures. The higher alcohol content extracts more of the medicinal compounds from the plant and with only a 5% water content, the tincture will have a shelf life of 8-10yrs if stored in a cool dry dark place in a proper amber glass tincture bottle.

Also I typically let my tinctures macerate for 30-45 days before straining. the longer you let the herbs macerate the stronger the tincture. but I love using wormwood tincture for arthritis pain and inflammation. I typically mix it with olive oil and rub it in or I use it in salves or sometimes I mix it into thick lotion. it completely relieves my osteoarthritis and sciatica pain with minutes. it really does reduce the swelling in my hands and knees.