In the Netherlands wormwood is a rare herb, in other parts of Europe it is more common. The smell of the plant is strong aromatic and she has a very bitter taste. Other species of wormwood include mugwort, tarragon, lemon weed and wild averuit.
Absinthe is a member of the Composite family. It originates from temperate regions of Europe, North Africa and Asia. It grows to a length of 60 to 120 cm. The plant has a soft downy, silver-colored stem. The leaves are gray-green on top and white on the underside with soft hairs. From July to September the plant blooms and yellow flowers appear. The Latin name comes from the Greek goddess of hunting, Artemis. She is also the guardian of nature and the moon. Since wormwood was often used to treat women, the name of the plant was derived from this goddess. The word 'absinthium' comes from the Greek and means 'displeasure' and comes from the bitter taste of the herb. Common names for the herb are: eelst, absinthe and wormwood.
Medicinal effect of wormwood
Wormwood has long enjoyed the status of a strong medicinal herb and is used in many different natural healing methods. The oldest mention of wormwood is made in the Ebers-Papyrus, the writings of Ancient Egypt dating back to 1550 BC. Here it is noted that wormwood can be used for any ailment of which the origin is not clear and as a remedy against worms.
Furthermore, Pliny described how wormwood was used as a symbol for health. During the Latin Games, the winner of these contests received a wreath made of wormwood, which represented the highest tribute. The sage Dioscorides also described the herb as a powerful medicine for various ailments, including fighting a hangover. Wormwood had a reputation for relieving menstrual pains and was used to promote abortion.
Within Christianity, wormwood is the sign of farewell and mourning. Wormwood was often used to decorate tombstones and coffins. The word 'absent' (absent or farewell) is therefore found in the word 'absinthe', which refers to absinthe.
There is also a legend that says that John the Baptist carried a belt of wormwood when he made his journey through the desert. The wormwood was supposed to give him strength.
Wormwood was used to sprinkle floors and thus keep insects at bay. The bitter taste of the herb was also used to smear on the nipple of a breast-feeding woman, to make the child dislike drinking at the breast.
Good for digestion
Because of the bitter taste of wormwood, the body is stimulated to stimulate its digestion. Bitter flavors cause the hormone gastrin to be produced in the stomach wall, which helps produce gastric juices and increases bile. Wormwood contains high levels of bitter substances that are very helpful in digesting food and can help with problems such as digestive problems, a lack of gastric juices, and bile disorders. Wormwood also stimulates the appetite. Wormwood has been used for centuries as a remedy against worms and to purify the body. In general it has a purifying and strengthening effect.
Wormwood can also help with flatulence.
Strong drink Absinthe
Of course, wormwood has its fame as an important ingredient in the alcoholic beverage absinthe. In the 19th century this drink became very popular and enjoyed a certain status. Nowadays the interest in absinthe is back. Absinthe is a strong drink based on anise, fennel and absinthe.
Originally absinthe often contained very high concentrations of essential oils, which could have supposedly strong effects. There was the condition 'absinthisme’ in which the drinker had ingested such large quantities of essential oil, that he or she got all kinds of unpleasant side effects such as headaches, dizziness, delirium and in the worst case even insanity. Substances that would be responsible for this were thujon and thujol. These essential oils are dangerous in very high concentrations. According to studies from that time, there was such a high concentration of these substances that drinking absinthe was dangerous. They are also found in the drink Vermouth, however in low concentrations, so there is no danger. For this reason absinthe was banned in the 20th century. Today's science sees 'absinthe' as nothing more than a form of alcoholism. Nowadays absinthe is popular again, but one has more knowledge of the potential dangers.
The drink usually has a green color, derived from the chlorophyll of an extract of various herbs, including wormwood, lemon balm, and hyssop.
In 1876 the artist Degas painted the painting l'Absinthe that appeals to the imagination. Around this period many artists and writers fell into the band of absinthe and it is said that they made parts of their work possible by the effect of this drink. Examples of well-known absinthe drinkers are Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Henri-Toulouse Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh. It is possible to make absinthe yourself. In this blog you can read how.
Warning: just like all other alcoholic drinks, there is a high risk of addiction and misuse.
Wormwood is still an ingredient in various herbal bitters, along with other plants such as calamus. Wormwood is also sometimes used as an ingredient in the kitchen, for example to season meat or poultry.
Tea of wormwood
To experience the medicinal effect of wormwood, it is possible to make a tea or tincture of the herb. The active ingredients are well absorbed by water. However, the taste is very bitter. This can be somewhat remedied by adding other herbs such as peppermint or adding lemon and honey.
Wormwood in the vegetable garden
Wormwood is a plant that can protect the vegetable garden against pests. For example, the cabbage white does not like the proximity of wormwood at all. The black earth flea also stays away from wormwood. An infusion of wormwood is therefore an excellent pest control agent, which works well against snails, for example.
Do not use wormwood during pregnancy.
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