Artemisia Absinthium

This plant is native to the Mediterranean regions of Europe and Asia. It is commonly known as absinthe, absinth, wormwood, or green ginger. Artemisia absinthium belongs to the Asteraceae family of plants. This plant escaped cultivation and can now be found all over Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. Artemisia absinthium can be cultivated by planting cuttings as well as seeds.

Since ancient times this plant has been used for medicinal purposes. The ancient Greeks used this plant to treat stomach ailments and as an effective anthelmintic. Artemisia absinthium contains thujone which is a mild toxin and gives the plant a very bitter taste. The plant is drought resistant and easily grows in dry soil. Artemisia absinthium is also used as an organic pest repellent.

This plant has many therapeutic uses. It has been used to treat stomach disorders and aid digestion. The plant has active elements such as thujone and tannic acid. The word absinthium means bitter or “without sweetness”. Artemisia absinthium is also called as wormwood. The word wormwood appears several times in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Wormwood has been used for centuries to treat stomach ailments, liver problems, and gall bladder problems. Wormwood oil extracted from the plant is applied on bruises and cuts and also used to relive itching and other skin infections. Wormwood oil in its pure form is poisonous; however, small doses are harmless.

Artemisia absinthium is the main herb used in the production of liquors such as absinthe and vermouth. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage that is considered to be one of the finest liquors ever made. Absinthe is green in color; however some absinthes produced in Switzerland are colorless. Several other herbs are used in the preparation of absinthe. Absinthes unique effects made it the most popular drink of nineteenth century Europe.

Parisian artists and writers were avid drinkers of absinthe and its association with the bohemian culture of nineteenth century is well documented. Some of the famous personalities who considered absinthe a creative stimulant included Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso and Arthur Rimbaud.

By the end of nineteenth century thujone in absinthe was blamed for its harmful effects and absinthe was eventually banned by most countries in Western Europe. However, new research has shown that thujone content in pre-ban absinthe is below harmful levels and that the effects earlier attributed to thujone are grossly overstated. In the light of these new findings most countries legalized absinthe once again and since then absinthe has made a stunning comeback. The United States continues to ban absinthe and it will be while before absinthe becomes legal in the US. However, US citizens can order absinthe kits and absinthe essence and make their very own absinthe at home.

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