Active Ingredients. - These consist of a green volatile oil, having a strong wormwood odor; and a bitter extract, yielding absinthine, C16H12O6 (Kromager), which last is the essential bitter principle of the plant, and presents itself in the form of a faintly crystalline powder, of bitter taste and disagreeable odor. It is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the alkalies; the reaction is neutral. Another ingredient is absinthic acid, an inert substance. The bitterness of the plant is brought out by water as well as by spirit, especially the latter.

The vegetable alkali kept in the shops under the name of "salt of wormwood " is an impure carbonate of potash, obtained by incineration of the plant, and possessing none of the intrinsic qualities of wormwood itself.

Physiological Action. - Taken into the system, wormwood operates in the manner usual with aromatic tonics. It increases the appetite, promotes digestion, slightly accelerates the circulation, and to some small extent augments the secretions. Large doses are at first ex citant, causing a pleasurable degree of warmth to permeate the whole body; subsequently, irritation of the system is induced, attended by considerable pain in the stomach, nausea, giddiness, headache, confusion of ideas, faintness, insensibility, and occasionally, contraction of the extremities, often followed by convulsions. At the same time there is in many cases fixedness of the jaws, and foaming at the mouth. Small doses, long persisted in, as in the shape of "bitters" - the "Absinthe" of the French - seriously injure the nervous system, over which wormwood exercises a specific influence. The infatuation of the Parisians more especially, for absinthe, is extraordinary, and the extent to which they indulge in it is frightful. The idlers of the pave, and even the lower classes, drink petits verves of the liqueur, one after the other, till they absorb an amount of alcohol which in itself is very pernicious, but over and above this the wormwood has special effects, the dangerous character of which has recently been investigated by M. Magnan. Absinthe-drinkers are distinguished, for instance, by a particular tendency to epileptiform symptoms, referrable, no doubt, to the action of the oil;1 for experiments on animals have shown that the oil causes muscular tremors and shock-like spasms in the neck and fore-limbs,2 and, if given in very large doses, trismus and tetanus, alternating with clonic convulsions, foaming at the mouth, involuntary defecation and discharge of semen, and (apparently) delirious hallucination. After death, the membranes of the brain and cord were always found injected, especially in the region of the medulla oblongata, and there was ecchymosis in the pericardium and endocardium, with hyperaemia of the lungs; the brain was but slightly congested. Symptoms almost exactly similar occurred in a case reported by Mr. W. Smith,3 where a man who swallowed about half-an-ounce of wormwood oil became completely insensible, and had epileptic fits, with foaming at the mouth, trismus, and retching. He recovered in 48 hours.

Wormwood itself, when taken in any way into the system, impregnates the whole body with the bitter crystalline principle, a fact which is shown by the taste of the flesh of animals poisoned with it. It is said that the milk of nursing mothers likewise becomes bitter if they take wormwood, and according to Borwick, the infant suffers.

Therapeutic Action. - Wormwood has been much extolled as a stomachic and tonic. It is adapted to atonic dyspepsia, occurring in torpid and debilitated constitutions; and that it is capable of promoting the assimilation of food there can be no doubt. Before the introduction of the febrifuges now in use it was celebrated also as a cure for intermit-tents, but chiefly in domestic medicine. Wormwood is further said to be efficacious as a vermifuge, destroying (but only by long continued use) both the lumbrici and the ascarides.4 Haller recommends it as suitable for warding off attacks of gout.

Preparations and Dose. - Absinthium, gr. xx. - xl. (1.30 -

1 Epilepsy is doubtless an occasional effect of prolonged excess in mere alcoholic drinks, but it is a much more common result of absinthe-tippling. 2 Magnan, Comptes Rendus, torn. 48, p. 14.

3 Lancet, vol. ii., 1862.

4 M. Cazin recommends a preparation made by digesting- equal parts of wormwood and garlic in a bottle of white wine, of which the dose is from one to three ounces every morning." - Stille, Therapeutics, p. 647.

2.60) is alone officinal. Infusum water), dose

Wormwood Abtemisia Absinthium 19Wormwood Abtemisia Absinthium 20

-ij (30. -

60.); Oleum Absinthii essentialis, m iv. - viij. (.25 - .50) with a little ether or sweet spirits of nitre.