Herbs A-Z: Artemisia absinthium - Wormwood & Absinthe


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We’re turning our attention to all the herbs we keep on the shelves in our apothecary, two at a time, in this ongoing series. (Check out the podcast stream for previous episodes!) We know that we tend to focus on a small group of favorite herbs, and we’re trying to make sure we don’t neglect helpful plants out of habit.

Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, is an herb we work with rarely. Yet it has a very long history as a medicinal plant, and it has a particular notoreity as an ingredient in the alcoholic spirit, absinthe. In fact, wormwood – and its constituent, thujone – are often “blamed” for the purported hallucinogenic effects of absinthe. But is this the whole story? Not quite!

Katja leads us on a romp through history, looking at the development of kräuterlikör from folk recipes to commercial liquors. We see how absinthe is one among many such drinks, and wormwood’s place in the formula. We also get some insight from modern science about the actual levels of thujone in these spirits, as well as certain other substances which might better explain their effects. Let’s do some herbal myth-busting!

Mentioned in this episode:

These quick plant profiles done off-the cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!

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187 episodes