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Friday, November 12, 2010


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OCast axenxios, L. Artemisia absinthium, Fr. absinthe, Eng. common wormwood. According to Pliny the word is derived from Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and chastity. The wood is hot and dry. In Spain there are three types: greater or common wormwood, L. Artemisa absinthbium, lesser or Roman wormwood, L. Artemisia pontica and marine wormwood, L. Artemisa marina. All are therapeutic and used as tonics, febrifuges and carminatives. For centuries it has been used as a bitter tonic, in herbal wines and aperitifs like vermouth. Laguna claimed that they killed tapeworms for being so bitter. Although it is now known that it produces some of the most dangerous and strongest alcoholic drinks for the hallucinogen and santonin content, the ancients thought they lessened intoxicating effects and, therefore, added the leaves to wine. Absinthe is the main ingredient for an aromatic French liqueur, which is a bitter dark green oil obtained from wormwood. With time, the drink irritates the stomach, increases the action of the heart and upsets the nervous system. Restlessness, convulsions and vomiting can result from continual use although taken in the Middle Ages to stop vomiting. An overdose may cause delirium, intoxication, vertigo and cramps. It is known that the plant was used medicinally between 400-500 B.C. Hippocrates thought it restored 179 disorders. One cup before meals or mashed with mint, yeast and pink vinegar and applied to the stomach was prescribed to act like a poultice restoring the appetite if lost over a long period due to the volatile oil and bitter principle of the plant. The entire plant, including its leaves and flowers, are considered an antipyretic, anthelmintic, stomachic and antiseptic. It is used to stimulate digestion. Formerly, the tincture was used in nervous diseases. It is taken as an infusion with coriander, sage and liquorices for dyspepsia. For vomiting and nausea, it is mixed with peppermint, spearmint, chamomile and European centaury and drunk as an infusion. Drunk with wine, it was used for seasickness, thought to be a good anti-toxicant for hemlock and ixia mushroom poisoning and to relieve mouse and sea dungeon bites. The syrup was used to combat jaundice and to clean the liver and the spleen. The juice performed all these operations. Avicena wrote that the syrup was drunk to diminish hemorrhoids. It was good, he continued, to drink the juice or use as a poultice against quartan fever. Wormwoods make one sleepy. Mixed with water, it has been used as like a shampoo to kill fleas and lice. During the Middle Ages, throughout Europe, it was a principal strewing herb. See manguiñada. [ES: “Medicinal.” Sep 30, 02; Font. Plantas.1999:593:819; Laza. 2002: 104-105; and Stuart. 1987:158]

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