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Wormwood

What is it?

Wormwood is an herbal medicine that is used to treat heartburn, bloating, nausea, or fullness after eating. Other uses for wormwood include improving the appetite, decreasing gas, and treating liver and gallbladder problems. Wormwood can also be used to treat bug bites and to heal skin wounds. Sweet wormwood or Chinese wormwood, which comes from Artemisia annua, is used to treat malaria.

Other names for Wormwood include: Absinthe, Absinthium, Artemisia absinthium, Chinese wormwood, Sweet wormwood, and Wermutkraut.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much wormwood you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking wormwood. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take wormwood without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Phenobarbital (Luminal(R); SK-Phenobarbital)
  • Combination Contraceptives (desogestrel, ethinyl estradiol, northindrone) (6)
  • Medicines used to treat antifungal infections (examples: itraconazole (Sporanox(R)), ketoconazole (Nizoral(R)) (6)
  • Medicines used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (examples: atazanavir (Reyataz(R)), ritonavir (Norvir(R)) (6)
  • Grapefruit juice (6)

Warnings:

  • Before taking wormwood, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not take wormwood if you have stomach or colon (intestine) ulcers
  • Wormwood should not be taken by mouth

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin
  • Vaginal bleeding or missed period
  • Feel dizzy or weak

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Kidney problems
  • Muscle destruction

References:

1. Fleming T: PDR for Herbal Medicines. Medical Economics Company Inc, Montvale, NJ; 1998.

2. Weiss RF: Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, Beaconsfield, England; 1994:79-82.

3. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Co, Springhouse, PA; 1999.

4. Weisbord SD, Soule JB & Kimmel PL: Brief Report: Poison on line - acute renal failure caused by oil of wormwood purchased through the internet. New England Journal of Medicine 1997; 337:825-827.

5. Tyagi A & Delanty N: Herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and seizures. Epilepsia 2003; 44(2):228-235.

6. Product Information: Coartem(R) oral tablets, artemether lumefantrine oral tablets. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ, 2009.

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Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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