What Are the Main Wormwood Effects?

Christian Petersen

Wormwood is a woody, herbaceous plant. Any of the species belonging to the genus Artemesia are commonly called wormwood, but Artemesia absinthium, or absinthe wormwood, is the plant most often called by this name. Wormwood contains several chemicals which can affect humans, but the most notable is a mild narcotic stimulant called thujone, which affects the nervous system. Thujone can induce mild euphoria and a peculiar phenomenon known as the "doll-house effect". It can be dangerous and cause serious health problems.

Absinthe, which contains wormwood, has hallucinogenic effects.
Absinthe, which contains wormwood, has hallucinogenic effects.

The effects of thujone are known to scientists and to those who use wormwood and its extracts as a recreational drug. Wormwood effects, due to the presence of thujone, are dependent on the amount of the compound that is present. In lower dosages, it can produce a mildly narcotic effect. A wormwood user may also become disoriented and experience an altered, dream-like perception of reality. Some users report wormwood effects such as an increase in clarity of thought, euphoria, and sensation of relaxing.

Wormwood extract is an ingredient in absinthe.
Wormwood extract is an ingredient in absinthe.

A curious phenomenon known as the "doll-house" effect is one of the more distinctive wormwood effects. Users describe perceiving objects as idealized representations of themselves or as simplified copies of the real objects, as though they belonged in a doll house. This effect is often experienced along with wormwood's other common effects. Objects may be perceived with a striking clarity of definition and color, however, wormwood only serves to enhance perception and has no hallucinogenic properties.

For centuries wormwood has been used as a medicinal herb for a variety of ailments. Its name comes from the belief that it was effective in purging parasites of the digestive tract, although there is little or no clinical evidence for this. Despite any hard evidence of its effectiveness for this or other conditions, it continues to be used for digestive ailments, sexual dysfunction, and liver disease. It is also used as an appetite stimulant and as a general tonic.

Several potentially dangerous or even life-threatening conditions are attributed to wormwood effects and are well documented by scientists. In higher doses, thujone can cause convulsions and seizures, resulting in muscle damage and, in extreme cases, brain damage. Thujone can also adversely affect the kidneys, causing them, as well as other organs, to fail. Thujone poisoning can ultimately cause paralysis or even death.

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