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What Is Wormwood Tea?

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wormwood tea

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  • Wormwood tea is made from the leaves of the wormwood plant, which typically grows in Europe, North America, North Africa and western Asia
  • Research has revealed that wormwood tea may help address digestive system problems, such as appetite loss, stomach upset, gall bladder disease and intestinal spasms
  • If you have a garden, you can use wormwood tea to prevent pests from targeting your plants
  • Refrain from excessively consuming wormwood tea and other related products, as they may raise your risk for adverse effects

Wormwood’s rather uncommon name may make you wonder what this plant (also known as Artemisia absinthium L.) can offer, but research has revealed it has multiple health-boosting abilities. The most used parts of the wormwood plant are its leaves and stems,1 which are made into oils, extracts, powders2 and even tea.

What Is Wormwood Tea?

Wormwood tea is made from the wormwood herb, which is usually found in Europe, North Africa, North America and western Asia.3 Also called madderwort, absinthium, ajenjo, hierba maestro or hierba santa,4 wormwood may reach 1 to 1.5 meters,5 and is known as an ornamental plant that gives gardens a pleasant appearance.6

In addition to tea, wormwood has several other culinary uses. It’s a known ingredient in bitters7 and alcoholic drinks like vermouth (made with wormwood extracts) and absinthe, which lists wormwood oil as an ingredient.8 And speaking of wormwood oil, this product can be used as an insecticide, medicine or ingredient in products like soaps, cosmetics and perfumes.9

What Are Wormwood Tea’s Health Benefits and Uses?

Although research regarding wormwood tea is limited, the benefits attributed to the herb offer a glimpse of the drink’s potential health benefits. Wormwood, when used alone or combined with other herbs, can help address:10

  • Digestion-related problems like appetite loss, stomach upsets, gall bladder disease and intestinal spasms11
  • Parasitic worms12,13
  • Liver disease14
  • Depression15,16
  • Brain damage17
  • Osteoarthritis18
  • Crohn’s disease19,20
  • Lead exposure21
  • Leukemia22
  • Malaria23
  • IgA nephropathy or Berger’s disease (characterized by increased amounts of IgA in the kidneys)24,25
  • Type 2 diabetes (because of the plant compound thujone,26 although more research is needed to confirm this link)

Wormwood may be used to help increase appetite (when consumed via a herb tonic), induce menstruation and sweating, and boost sexual tendencies.27 It has been also found to have antioxidant and antiradical abilities.28

Various wormwood preparations were confirmed by studies to have pest-repelling capabilities.29,30,31 If you’re planting during the fall and spring, spraying this tea on the ground may ward off slugs. When keeping grains in storerooms, a few sprays of tea may help reduce the chances of beetles and weevils affecting the foods. Dogs and cats may benefit from wormwood tea also, as bathing them in it may combat development of fleas, although more research is needed to confirm this.32

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How to Make Wormwood Tea

If you want to brew wormwood tea, you need high-quality wormwood leaves or tea bags from a reputable seller or health website, or you can grow your own plants at home and harvest the tops or leaves for future use.33 Once you have a supply of this herb, you can try following this recipe:34

Wormwood Tea Recipe


1 teaspoon dried wormwood leaves

1 cup of hot water

Raw honey (optional)


1. Place the dried leaves in a cup filled with hot water. Set aside for about 15 minutes. Remember that using more than 1 teaspoon of wormwood leaves may make your tea too bitter or strong.

2. Strain the infusion and drink while hot.

3. You can combine wormwood tea with raw honey or other herbal teas like peppermint or anise to lessen its bitterness.

Wormwood Tea May Lead to These Side Effects

Refrain from using wormwood tea as a form of treatment for multiple days.35 Although there’s very little information regarding wormwood tea’s side effects, oral intake of the herb may trigger these complications because of thujone, a prominent plant compound:36,37,38

  • Seizures
  • Rhabdomyolysis or muscle breakdown
  • Kidney failure
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Sleeping difficulties and nightmares
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Changes to heart rate
  • Urine retention
  • Increased thirst
  • Arm and leg numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Death

If you have any of the following conditions, stay away from wormwood tea or other related products, as they might cause adverse reactions and trigger the following health problems:39,40

Allergies or sensitivities to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, chrysanthemums or other members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family

Cirrhosis, hepatitis, gall bladder obstruction or kidney disease

Nervous disorders like epilepsy, a high seizure risk or other health problems that would require you to take seizure medications

Stomach or intestinal ulcers (wormwood may trigger irritation)

Avoid drinking significant amounts of wormwood tea or consuming wormwood products if you’re pregnant41 or breastfeeding.42 Ingesting large amounts of wormwood may be too toxic for the nervous system and trigger uterus contraction.43 Wormwood tea isn’t recommended for children either, especially those 6 years old or younger.44

Exercise Caution if You Want to Drink Wormwood Tea

Just like the raw herb, wormwood tea may offer benefits to your well-being. However, moderation is crucial, as dangerous side effects may develop from consuming too much of this beverage.

Consult a doctor before trying any brand of wormwood tea. You want to be certain that your body can handle wormwood products without experiencing reactions. If you notice side effects during or after drinking wormwood tea, stop consumption and seek medical attention immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Wormwood Tea

Q: Is it safe to take wormwood tea?

A: It’s not safe to drink if you belong to the following groups:45

Young children

Pregnant or breastfeeding women

People with allergies to wormwood or other plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family

People diagnosed with cirrhosis, hepatitis, nervous disorders, or stomach or intestinal ulcers

If you don’t have any of the mentioned health issues, consume wormwood tea in moderation. Wormwood has been linked to side effects like dizziness, vomiting, headaches, stomach cramps and restlessness.46,47

Q: Is wormwood tea psychoactive?

A: Thujone is a plant compound in wormwood with psychoactive properties.48,49 High amounts of it are found in wormwood essential oil,50 but there’s not enough research to show how much of it is found in the tea. Therefore, it’s best to consume wormwood tea moderately to prevent any psychoactive effects from occurring.

Q: Can wormwood tea get you high?

A: Wormwood was initially used as a prominent ingredient in an alcoholic beverage called absinthe.51 People who consumed high amounts of this wormwood-rich beverage had a higher risk for absinthism, a condition characterized by adverse effects like hallucinations, psychosis, delirium and vertigo.52

Q: When should I take wormwood tea?

A: There’s little research on how often you should drink wormwood tea, but it’s recommended that you don’t drink or use it as a treatment method within multiple days.53

Q: How do you make wormwood tea taste better?

A: You can improve wormwood tea’s flavor by combining it with other herbal teas like peppermint or anise, or by adding raw honey.54

Q: Where can you buy wormwood tea?

A: Health stores and websites sell wormwood tea bags or raw herbs. To avoid buying poor-quality products, purchase items from a highly reputable seller.

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