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Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

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Wormwood (alsem) is a bitter tasting stem-like plant with green-grey leaves and little yellow flowers.

Wormwood has both a psychoactive and medicinal function. It has been used against rheumatism, gout and tapeworm. This is where the English name comes from.

Wormwood is the main ingredient of the legendary drink absinthe, which was invented in 1792 by a French doctor. Intended as a medicine, it became very popular as a recreational drink.

A lot of artists were affected by absinthe in their work. First, the drink was called 'the green fairy' or 'the green goddess'. Later the drink was known as 'the plague' or 'the queen of poisons'.

In 1915 the production of absinthe was forbidden because it was accused of driving people to madness. However, even when drinking it in large quantities (something we absolutely do not recommend), one can only be sure to become extremely drunk. The only thing that can affect your health is the high percentage of alcohol (up to 75%). Absinthe has recently become legal again in all European countries.


Wormwood is a mental stimulant. The effect of wormwood is narcotic, lightly anesthetic, giving a peaceful and relaxing feeling. In combination with alcohol or in larger dosages hallucinations might occur. Wormwood is suitable for making tea, which has a positive effect during post-flu or post-infectious periods. In small doses, wormwood is a remedy against common cold, rheumatism and tapeworm. It also increases the appetite.


A common way to use wormwood is to make a tea of it. Soak 1 teaspoon in a cup of hot (non-boiling) water. The tea has a bitter taste, which is hard to avoid. You can mix it with peppermint leaves or anise.

To make absinthe, soak 40 grams (1½ oz.) of wormwood for a couple of weeks in ½ litre of liquor (for instance Pernod). After sifting it, the drink is ready for use. Try a little glass first to make sure of the dosage.


Wormwood is poisonous. Long and intensive use can lead to addiction, corporal and psychical decline and it can lead to feelings of nervousness, restlessness and cramps. High doses can cause headaches and dizziness. Higher doses are psycho-activating and have a paralysing effect. Intoxication effects due to overdose are arbitrary stools, unconsciousness, coma and death. After making absinthe, try one small glass at first and wait about an hour for the effect. Try it again at another opportunity. Better to dose too little with no effects than too much, risking poisoning yourself or making yourself sick. Do not drive motorized vehicles under the influence of wormwood.

Azarius Encyclopedia: Using Psychedelics Safely

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