Wormwood or Artemesia annua is one of the most potent anti-parasitic medications available. Artemether-lumefantrine is perhaps the most powerful anti-malarial (malaria is a parasite) on the market, a drug that was developed using artemisinin, one of the active ingredients in Artemesia annua as a basis. The plant is also effective against intestinal parasite infestations and in fact, experts believe that an herbal treatment is less likely to lead to parasite resistance of the treatment because the A. annua plant is more complex than the drug Artemether-lumefrantrine which is made up of relatively few chemical substances in comparison.
How to Take Wormwood for Parasites
Artemisinin, the active ingredient in wormwood that has been studied the most by scientists, has a half-life of 2 hours. In other words, within 2 hours, half of the Artemisinin has been metabolized and eliminated from the body. Though a short half-life may seem inconvenient because you have to take wormwood more often, a short half-life also makes it more difficult for parasites in your body to build up resistance to it. Plan to take a new dose of wormwood every four to six hours. The plasma concentration of dihydroartemesinin (a metabolite of artemisinin) does build up in the blood with repeated use so if you have to wait a little longer than 6 hours between doses, it will be okay…wormwood still builds up in your system if you take it regularly.
By the fifth day of use, your liver starts to produce enzymes that lower the bioavailability of wormwood inside your body by a factor of 6.9. In other words, you begin to develop a tolerance to wormwood. Slowly increase the amount of Artemesia annua that you take each day.
Artemisinin could cause hypotension and it can also cause miscarriage during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Another, related herb, Artemesia absinthium, is also an effective anti-parasitic, but it is more toxic and in fact, can be lethal in high enough doses.
Below are some of the adverse events that have resulted from taking wormwood. Most people don’t experience any of these things, but if you do, stop use and consider a different treatment strategy:
RARE: Cough and skin rash due to an allergy to wormwood
Willcox, M., Bodeker, G., Rasoanaivo, P. (2004). Traditional Medicinal Plants and Malaria. CRC Press: New York.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, VT.