This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium)-see also page 16 - has been grown in the herb garden for many years past because of its benefit, when judiciously used, as a nervine tonic, particularly helpful against the falling sickness, and for flatulent indigestion. The extremely bitter taste of this herb has given it a name - "a" negative, psinthos, delight, because of its being nauseous to a distressing degree. Wormwood tea will serve to relieve bilious melancholia, and will help to dispel the yellow hue of jaundice from the skin. The characteristic odour of the herb is due to a volatile oil which consists mainly of "absinthol; and the intensely bitter taste resides in its "absinthin." The plant also contains tannin, resin, starch, with succinic, malic, and acetic acids, together with nitrate of potash, and other salts. In some districts it is popularly known as "Green Ginger." The leaves of Wormwood resist putrefaction, and therefore help to make capital antiseptic fomentations. Gerarde says: "The plant voideth away the worms, not only taken inwardly, but applied outwardly; it withstandeth all putrefactions and is good against the stinking breath." For making Wormwood tea, an ounce of the plant should be infused for ten, or twelve minutes in a pint of boiling water, and then a wineglassful be given at a time for a dose.
"These for frenzy be A speedy and a sovereign remedy: The bitter wormwood, sage, and marigold".
Fletcher, Faithful Shepherdess.
In the words of Bergius, "Wormwood is antiputredinosa, antacida, anthelmintica, resolvens, tonica, stomachica." Tusser, in his simple, homely rhyme, has expressed this notion thus:-
"What savour is better, if physic be true, For places infected than Wormwood and Rue? It is as a comfort for heart, and for brain, And therefore to have it, this is not in vain".
Dioscorides affirmed that Wormwood is a preventive of intoxication, and an antidote against its ill-effects; indeed, the "Poculum absinthiatum" has long been a favourite beverage. The leaves and tops were infused in ale, and then formed a favourite liquor known as purl. This term Wormwood seems to be also connected with a property of expelling worms. The smell of common Wormwood is very refreshing, and its reviving qualities in heated courts are almost equal to a change of air.