Medicinal Species of the Genus Artemisia
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Medicinal Species of the Genus ArtemisiaCreated for Webster Groves Herb SocietyBy Brigitte Zettl
Medicinally Important Artemisia SpeciesWormwood Artemisia absinthium EuropeSweet Annie Artemisia annua EurasiaMugwort Artemisia vulgaris EurasiaWhite Mugwort Artemisia ludoviciana Western & Southern U.S.Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus Eurasia and Western Prairie States
Artemis Greek GoddessThe Genus Artemisia is named from Artemis whose Roman equivalent was DianaArtemis was the most widely venerated goddess of the Ancient Greek deitiesHomer referred to her as Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of AnimalsTwin of Apollo she was a virgin Goddess of the moon, hunting, wilderness, childbirth, and a protector of young girlsSome scholars say she is Pre-Greek, Arcadians knew her as Demeters daughter
The Genus Artemisia in GeneralMembers of AsteraceaeBitter and aromatic (mentioned in the Bible as a metaphor for a harsh, bitter experience)Usually have silver-gray hairs, at least beneath the leaves; Flowers in terminal clustersTend to grow in wastelands, deserts, and devastated areas. Mathew Wood says energetically - they are Natures promise that out of devastation life will spring up anew.
Chemistry of ArtemisiasArtemesininThujone
Thujone is a Monoterpene a component of the Volatile OilA Sesquiterpene Lactone is resp0nsible for the bitter flavorWormwood Artemisia absinthiumDistinguishing characteristics: 1-4 in height Silver-green leaves, strongly divided Segments are blunt with silky silver hairs on both sides Flowers are tiny, drooping, terminal clusters. Found on waste ground throughout U.S.
Range of Artemisia absinthium in the U.S.
Wormwood & Absinthe The Green Fairy
The Green Muse - Maignon
The Absinthe Drinker - OliviaWormwood & AbsintheThujone is the toxic principle of absinthe which made it so potent Intoxication from absinthe liqueurs has been likened to that induced by CannabisIt is theorized that the active principle of each plant reacts with the same receptor site in the CNSTrue absinthe is habit forming, causes delirium, hallucinations, and permanent mental deterioration
Wormwood & MagicUsed in herb scryingRepresents the Air Element Yellow ColorFolk Names: Old Woman, Crown for a KingBasic Powers: Clairvoyance, ProtectionThrown onto the fire at Samhain to protect from evil spirits
Medicinal Uses of WormwoodWidely used in Old World medicineDioscorides said the herb is used principally for its stimulating influence on the stomach, gallbladder, and digestion. It is referred to by many physicians over the centuries as being warming for the cold, hardened digestive system Relatively small doses may cause nervous disorders, convulsions, insomnia, nightmares, and depression
Medicinal Uses of WormwoodActions: Antibacterial, antimalarial, antifungal, immunomodulator, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, euphoriant, antiamoebic, choleretic, smooth muscle relaxantActive Against: Malaria, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Klebsiella pneumoniae, intestinal worms, amebic organisms
Some herbalists feel that the presence of thujone, and the possible nervous system damage from it, is too dangerous to risk using wormwood at all. Many other herbalists have used the herb for many years with no sign of adverse reactions. Use in folk practice throughout the world is pervasive. It should be recognized however that wormwood is a strong herb and should be used with respect and attentiveness of mind. Stephen Buhner Herbal AntibioticsMugwort Artemisia vulgarisDistinguishing Characteristics: 2-4 in heightLeaves deeply cut Silvery-wooly beneath, green on top. Flower heads erect. Found on waste ground throughout the U.S. naturalized on the East Coast
Range of Artemisia vulgaris in the U.S.
Moxabustion (TCM) Ai YeThe Chinese dry and render Mugwort into a cottony mass that is burned directly on the skin or above the skinThe volatile oils that are combusted promote blood circulation, relax the underlying nerves, and burn quickly at a low temperature. Moxa stimulates the immune system and associated meridians of the nervous systemIt is specifically used for conditions associated with coldness and deficiency
Mugwort & MagicFolk Names: Old Man, Witch Herb, Sailors Tobacco, Felon Herb, Naughty ManPut into your shoe to prevent fatigue on long journeysRub leaves on magic mirrors and crystal balls to stengthen powerPlants powers are strongest when picked on the Full MoonThe Dream Herb
Mugwort Medicinal Uses Michael Tierra says Mugwort has the following properties: Cholagogue, vermifuge, emmenagogue, hemostatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, mild narcotic, bitter tonic Used for: Liver, stomach & intestinal problems, worms, nervousness, ritual purification Ash can be applied topically to stop bleedingMugwort is the mildest of the Artemisias
Sweet Annie Artemisia annua The only annual medicinal Artemisia 1-9 feet in height Leaves are ternately divided with fernlike segments Leaves are oblong to lance shaped, sharp-toothed or cleft Tiny green-yellow flowers in terminal clusters
Range of Artemisia annua in the U.S.
Sweet Annie & MalariaArtemesinin is the active constituentAll species can be used to combat Malaria but A. annua is one of the most researched herbs in the world at the moment for an alternative to treat drug resistant MalariaS. Buhner says dose to treat Malaria is as follows:25 4o milligrams of leafy herb per 3 pounds of body weight. Take 3 x per day before meals for 7 days. Symptoms have been shown to subside in 30 hours.
Women in Uganda sorting Sweet AnnieQinghao Sweet Annie is also used in TCM
White Mugwort Artemisia ludovicianaOften mistakenly identified as SageDefining Characteristics: To 3 in heightLeaves are white and felty beneathBlade is lance shaped and entireFlowers born in dense paniclesNative to the west, naturalized in the Eastern U.S.
Range of Artemisia ludoviciana in the U.S.
Smudging Ritual PurificationThe Dakota-Lakota use A. ludoviciana for cleansing the body in some purification rites. Short Bull, a Lakota chief amends that A. ludoviciana is for the men and the dwarf A. cana is used by the women. Eagle Shield a Sioux Shaman received a vision from bear teaching him a song to use with Artemisia:Herbs I shall give you, but they are good, so you shall recover, all these are good, they say
Other Traditional & Historical UsesThe Cheyenne crushed the leaves as a snuff for sinus problems and headachesThe Crow made a salve to treat sores and for use as a deodorantThe Kiowa made a tonic to reduce phlegm and to relieve stomach ailmentsThe Mesquakie used a leaf poultice for sores and to repel mosquitoesPawnee women drank a bitter tea during mensesMiners and fronteirsmen prized A. ludoviciana for Mountain Fever
The Sioux smoked A. LudovicianaRussian Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus Sativa is French Tarragon and must be propagated vegetativelyDefining Characteristics: Leaves not silver or hairy but lance-shaped and linear (sometimes divided) without teeth. Whitish green flowers in loose terminal clusters. Dracunculus means little dragon because the leaves are said to look like little dragon tongues
Range of Artemisia dracunculus in the U.S.
Tarragon UsesFlowering stem is recommended to be used as an anti-inflammatory, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, sedative, and vermifugeRutin a constituent found in the flowers is a known cancer-preventativeFrench tarragon is used in herbal vinegars to stimulate appetite
Recommended ReadingMedicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants; Charlotte Erichsen-BrownSacred Plant Medicine; Stephen Harrod BuhnerPeterson Field Guides; Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants & HerbsMagical Herbalism; Scott CunninghamMedicinal Plants of the Heartland; Connie Kaye & Neil BillingtonThe Book of Herbal Wisdom; Matthew WoodThe Way of Herbs; Michael TierraHerbal Antibiotics; Stephen BuhnerHerbal Vade Mecum; Gazmend SkenderiPhytochemistry and Pharmacy for Practioners of Botanical Medicine; Eric Yarnell