Wormseed

Botanical Name : Artemisia cina
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: A. cina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Santonica (zahr el shieh el -khorasani), Levant wormseed, and Wormseed

Habitat :It is native to China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan,  Russia, Mongolia and Eastern Europe. Growing in the arid areas.

Description:
it is a small scrub-like plant that produces very small flower heads each containing no more than five very small yellow flowers.
The plant is low and shrubby, throwing up a number of erect stems on which the little greenish-yellow, oblong flower-heads are borne. Each head is about 1/8 inch long and 1/16 inch in diameter, and contains three to five minute, tubular flowers. In July and August, before the flowers expand, they are stripped from the stems and dried, being brought into Chimkent by the Kirghiz and other tribes.

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Constituents:
The chief constituent of Wormseed is a crystalline principle, Santonin, to which the anthelmintic property of the drug is due. Santonin attains its maximum 2.3 to 3.6 per cent in July and August; after the flowerheads have expanded, it rapidly diminishes in quantity. It is extracted from the flower-heads by treating them with Milk of Lime, the Santonin being converted into soluble calcium santonate. It occurs in colourless, shining, flat prisms, without odour and almost tasteless at first, but afterwards developing a bitter taste. It is sparingly soluble in water, but soluble in alcohol and ether.

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Wormseed also contains a crystalline substance, Artemisin, and a yellow volatile oil consisting of Cineol, to which its odour is due.

Medicinal Uses:
Wormseed is one of the oldest and most common anthelmintics, especially for children. In domestic practice the seeds are used powdered, combined with honey or treacle, the dose of the seeds taken thus in substance being 10 to 30 grains. The seeds have also been employed in infusion or decoction, but in these forms their bitterness is a strong objection. As a general rule, however, the crude drug Wormseed is seldom administered, its active constituent Santonin being employed. It acts as a direct poison to parasites, and is used as a remedy for round-worms, which it rapidly expels; it has also an effect on thread-worms to a lesser degree, but has no action on tapeworms. It is usually administered as a powder or in lozenges, not in solution, and is often given with calomel, or compound powder of scammony.

Vermifuge. Santonin is particularly active against round-worms, and to some extent against threadworms.  Wormseed has been taken combined with honey or treacle or as a decoction, it must be used with care as high doses are toxic.

Known Hazards:
Santonin is very toxic in even small doses. Several fatalities of Santonin Poisoning have been recorded. Wormseed contains up to 5% Santonin so it is potentially fatally toxic as a herb. Do not administer unless supervised by your doctor. Symptoms of Santonin poisoning are: disturbed vision, headaches, nausea, vomiting and in extreme cases convulsions.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_cina
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/w/worlav36.html
http://beneforce.com/informationfaq/herbal-medicines/wormseed.htm

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