Ajenjo - Wormwood
Wormwood, Old Woman, Absinth, Pasture Sagewort
What is Ajenjo (Wormwood)?
Wormwood is a species of Artemisia, a woody shrub known for its bitter aromatic taste, native to temperate regions of Eurasia and Northern Africa. In folklore both ancient and modern, this plant has gained a glamorous and mysterious reputation. Artemisia absinthium is named after the Greek Goddess Artemis, goddess of the hunt, guardian of the forest and of children, and has been used medicinally for many thousands of years. In the west it is most notorious for being the main ingredient in the spirit Absinthe, known for its psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects on the brain (similar to THC) due to its active constituent thujone. Because of this, Absinthe was banned in many European countries as well as the US, though this did not deter the many famous artists - including Hemingway and Van Gogh - who swore by Absinthe for the creative insight it engendered.
Benefits of Ajenjo (Wormwood):
The healing and medicinal qualities of wormwood are vast. It has been used for centuries as a parasiticide (internally) and as a hemostatic (externally) and has long been used as a natural and effective insect repellent due to its extreme bitterness. It is most commonly used as a bitter tonic to eliminate intestinal worms, to aid digestion, and to relieve constipation. It is also used medicinally for common colds, to ease sore eyes, as a hair tonic (to promote growth), as relief for painful menstrual flow, and to ease general swelling. Wormwood is known to regulate fevers, as well as purify the liver and neutralize the effects of anemia and arthritis. Compresses soaked in wormwood tea, as well as the oil of Wormwood as a liniment are excellent in applications for local inflammations including swelling, sprains, and bruises. Wormwood is not considered safe to administer to children due to its toxicity, nor is it safe for pregnant women because it can stimulate uterine contractions. It should be consumed in small doses and only for short periods of time.
How to consume Ajenjo (Wormwood)?
Wormwood is typically prepared as a tea, soaked in wine or spirits, distilled into an herbal extract, and can be found in capsules. To make an herbal infusion of Wormwood tea, take ½ a teaspoon of the crushed herb, add to one cup of boiling water, and let steep for ten to fifteen minutes. It is suggested to add peppermint and/or fennel to counteract the bitter taste as well as to increase the healing properties especially for digestive issues.