Wormwood side effects and drug information

Wormwood seems to be a pretty interesting herb as it has so many types of uses, and each of those purposes is so varied. From having medicinal benefits to being an ingredient for cosmetics to being an added component to alcoholic drinks and a lot more in between, these are some of the things that wormwood can do.

Wormwood : Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects

Higher classificationMugworts
Scientific nameArtemisia absinthium


The above-ground plant parts, as well as its oil, are the ones being utilized for many different purposes. When used for medicine or treatment, wormwood can be helpful in several different medical conditions.

This herb is used to treat different types of digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. Wormwood is used as well for the treatment of fever, liver disease, feel depressed, muscle pain, memory loss, and worm infections.

It is also used as a treatment for Crohn’s Disease and for the kidney disorder called IgA nephropathy.

Apart from its being a useful treatment for various medical conditions, this herb is also used as a tonic, and it helps in stimulating sweat as well.

As for the wormwood oil, aside from being used as a treatment for digestive disorders, it is also said to increase sexual desire and can stimulate the imagination. Apart from these, its oil is also used as a counter-irritant for reducing pain.

Still, on wormwood oil, it is used as well as a component for fragrance such as in soaps, cosmetics, and perfumes. It is also a very effective insecticide.

Some of those who use this directly apply it to their skin, such as for healing wounds and insect bites, and also to relieve osteoarthritis.

Another fascinating usage for this herb is that it is also used as an ingredient to some alcoholic drinks, which includes:

  • Vermouth, a kind of wine beverage that is flavored with some extracts of wormwood.
  • Absinthe, a quite popular alcoholic drink that is made with wormwood, and is prepared from wormwood oil. It is usually combined with some other dried herbs such as fennel and anise. This popular beverage was made known by several famous artists and writers that include the likes of Toulouse – Lautrec, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway, and Oscar Wilde still probably among many others.

Though Absinthe is a widely known alcoholic beverage, it is now banned in several countries. However, it is still allowed for consumption in European Union countries but with a specific condition. It can be consumed for as long as its thujone content does not go beyond 35mg per kg.

The reason for this is because thujone is a potentially poisonous chemical that is found in wormwood. When wormwood is distilled in alcohol, the amount of thujone concentration is also increased.

Side Effects

Wormwood does offer so many purposes for the different fields, such as from medicine to food and drinks to cosmetics, and a lot more. But even if it is an herb which is a natural product, still, it comes with some side effects that may cause discomfort or other serious medical conditions.

It is considered ‘likely safe’ when wormwood is taken by mouth. But should be only within the amounts that are allowed for its usage when mixed with either food or drinks, which includes vermouth and bitters, and as long as they are free from thujone.

It is also ‘possibly safe’ when this herb is applied to the skin and used as an ointment, but also for as long as there is no thujone content.

But if thujone is present, then everything, whether taken by mouth or applied to the skin, it becomes possibly unsafe.

Some of the possible side effects that an individual who consumes wormwood in whatever form may experience the following:

When used or applied to the skin, the potential side effects would be:

  • Severe skin redness
  • Burning

Dosage and Administration

For the appropriate or recommended average dose for wormwood, there is still not enough scientific information that has been concluded to be able to say a specific or even a range of doses for this particular herb.

Even though wormwood, which is an herb, or any other product that is considered natural remedy, does not always mean that they are entirely safe and are free from causing any side effects. That is why it is still very important to know the right amount of dosages to avoid or prevent the experience of side effects.

It is always advised that anyone who is taking medication, whether it is prescription, non- prescription, or herbal to never miss following the product label’s instruction, most notably the recommended dosage. And before starting a medication or treatment, it is always best to consult your doctor first to avoid further complications.

Most often, the amount of dosage is based on different factors such as the patient’s age, the status of health, and if the patient has other conditions.

Drug Interaction

There are some drugs like Doryx MPC that may cause interaction with each other because of their components. When this happens, they negate each other’s purposes because it is either they do not allow each other to work correctly, or never work at all, or worst, they may cause harmful reactions to the user’s body.

Like in the case of wormwood, there are certain medicines that prevent seizures that affect the chemicals in the brain; and wormwood may potentially affect the chemicals in the brain by lowering the efficacy of the thorazine medications used to treat seizures. So if you are taking medicines for seizures, it is not advised for you to consume wormwood as they may interact with each other.

Some of the medicines used to prevent seizures and may interact with wormwood are the following:

  • Phenobarbital
  • Primidone such as Mysoline
  • Valproic acid-like Depakene
  • Gabapentin like Neurontin
  • Carbamazepine such as Tegretol
  • Phenytoin like Dilantin

Warnings and Precautions

There are certain situations when wormwood may not be considered safe to use, so if you have the following conditions, it is better to check with your doctor first if using wormwood would be safe for you. Also, this way, the doctor would be able to tell you the right amount of dosage that you can take.

For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Taking wormwood, whether by mouth or applying as an ointment, is considered to be likely unsafe for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, especially when the amount consumed is beyond the recommended level in food as they may contain thujone.

This poisonous chemical tends to affect the uterus and endanger the pregnancy. As for the topical version, not enough is known yet regarding the safety of its use when pregnant or breastfeeding.

For Allergy to Ragweed and Related Plants

This herb may trigger an allergic reaction to people who are sensitive to certain plants such as the Asteraceae or Compositae family. This includes:

  • Ragweed
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigolds
  • Daisies

If you have an allergy to any of these, consult your doctor first before starting to use wormwood to avoid potential side effects or interactions.

For Porphyria

Porphyria is a rare inherited blood condition that may not work well with the intake of wormwood because the thujone that is found in wormwood oil may increase the body’s production of chemicals called porphyrins, and so will lead to the worsening of the condition porphyria and loss of sleep.

For Kidney Disorders

Wormwood oil may also work against those who have kidney problems and may result in kidney failure. If you have any kidney problems and is planning to take wormwood, it is better to talk to your doctor first before using it.

For Seizure Disorders

This particular herb may not also be good for people who are prone to seizures or those with epilepsy because its thujone content can provoke seizures.

Medication Guide

Though wormwood can be harmful to some conditions because of its thujone content, it also has some health benefits to some other conditions as well, such as:

Crohn’s Disease

According to early research, it revealed that taking wormwood every day for about 6 to 10 weeks resulted in some improvements in the symptoms, quality of life, and mood for those with this type of condition. Aside from these, the number of steroids used by the patients is also decreased.

Kidney IgA Nephropathy

For people with this kind of condition, the daily intake of wormwood for about six months can lower the blood pressure as well as reduce the levels of protein in the urine of the patients who are using this herb.


Applying a liniment or using topical ointment that contains wormwood to the knee can lessen the pain for people with this kind of condition. Though it might reduce the pain for those with osteoarthritis, it did not say if it also can improve the stiffness or its function. And though it might lessen the pain, it is still not as effective as the prescription gel with piroxicam.