Written by Karen Pilkington and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated February 28, 2017

Artemisia absinthium

Abstract and key points

  • Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) is a small shrub-like plant
  • No evidence exists of its effectiveness in cancer
  • Few cases of adverse effects have been reported but there are serious safety concerns for thujone-containing extracts

Artemisia absinthium, also known as wormwood, is a plant from the Asteraceae/Compositae family which has been used medicinally since Roman times. It has been used orally and topically and small quantities are found in some foods and alcoholic drinks. Traditional use is based on wormwood as a bitter tonic for digestive disorders and loss of appetite. Wormwood has been claimed to have anti-cancer effects but there is no evidence from clinical trials with cancer patients to support this claim. Few cases of adverse effects have been reported but there are safety concerns for extracts that contain thujone which is reported to cause a wide range of toxic effects.

Citation

Karen Pilkington, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Artemisia absinthium [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Artemisia-absinthium. February 28, 2017.

Document history

Assessed as up to date in February 2017 by Barbara Wider.
Assessed as up to date in January 2015 by Barbara Wider.
First published in May 2014 authored by Karen Pilkington.

References

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