Sweet Wormwood: Overview, Benefits, and Side Effects

Published on April 04, 2022

Sweet Wormwood is a bitter herb with a long and fascinating history in traditional herbal medicine. This popular little plant has been used for centuries in many parts of Asia, most notably China, to support overall health.

However, this medicinal herb is perhaps most well-known for its use in producing alcoholic drinks like absinthe and vermouth. These alcoholic beverages were most popular in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Thanks to its numerous health benefits, Sweet Wormwood and wormwood extracts remain a popular ingredient in many beverages, essential oils (wormwood oil), and herbal remedies. 

Featured in one of our newest products for digestive health, Microbiome Cleanse, Sweet Wormwood is slowly gaining recognition as an herb you should have in your herbal remedies cabinet. Discover what you should know about this sweet herb and our favorite Sweet Wormwood products to keep on hand.

What’s So “Sweet” About Sweet Wormwood?

Sweet Wormwood (Artemisia Annua), also known as Annual Wormwood, or more commonly as Sweet Annie, is an annual herb native to Asia. As an annual, this herb only has one growing season throughout the year and is typically planted after the last frost of Spring and harvested around the end of the Summer.REF#1148 The aerial (above-ground) parts of this fern-like herb are the parts used in herbal remedies.

This herb has been used for over 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is referred to as Qing Hao therein. In TCM, there are six pernicious influences that can disrupt the body. These are heat, cold, dampness, dryness, wind, and summer heat.REF#1149

Regarding TCM, Sweet Wormwood is considered a cooling herb that helps clear heat from the body. The herb provides a nice blend of cooling from the bitter actions and warming from the volatile oils.* It has also been used to help those experiencing occasional digestive complaints.* Today, Sweet Wormwood is largely cultivated due to the active phytochemical, artemisinin, found in the plant's aerial parts, as well as its antioxidant properties.*

The reason this herb is called "Sweet" Wormwood is due to its heavenly and long-lasting sweet fragrance, which is especially strong on warm summer days. Sweet Annie can be used as a natural room air freshener and works exceptionally well in humid areas, such as a bathroom, as the damp air helps release its fragrance. This herb is also a great addition to dried wreaths or decorations since it retains its sweet, fruity fragrance for extended periods.

How Do People Use Sweet Wormwood?

Today, people use this versatile herb in so many ways. For example, studies and scientific evidence have shown Sweet Wormwood extracts can help soothe irritation and promote balanced intestinal health.REF#1150 Of course, this makes this herb a popular choice for those looking to naturally address symptoms of digestive upset due to intestinal concerns.

In fact, Wormwood has traditionally been used to help flush out parasitic infections, such as pinworms. While this is primarily anecdotal, there is some evidence to support the claim that Wormwood can support the immune system while it “battles” parasites.REF#1156

Traditionally, one of the most common ways people use Sweet Wormwood is by brewing it into a tea. In traditional medicine, wormwood tea was believed to help support a healthy immune response and soothe irritation.

Does Sweet Wormwood Have Side Effects?

In short, Sweet Wormwood is relatively safe for healthy adults when used in proper doses. However, unaltered forms of wormwood can contain a chemical known as thujone, which can have adverse effects. 

Thankfully, all Sweet Wormwood products that are produced in the United States are required to be "thujone-free.” By removing thujone, Sweet Wormwood can be used safely in higher doses without serious side effects.

At the end of the day, it is still best to consult your healthcare professional for medical advice when trying any new nutrient supplement. 

It is not currently known how Sweet Wormwood affects breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and avoid this herb entirely.

What Are the Potential Health Benefits of Sweet Wormwood?

Let’s look at some of the most popular areas of support that Sweet Wormwood is known for. 

Supports the Immune System 

As mentioned, thisherb is known for its many medicinal properties. In traditional Chinese medicine, it was widely used to support the body’s immune system. In fact, research suggests that Sweet Wormwood may be an effective and potent antioxidant with potential health benefits regarding immune system support.REF#1151

To understand this, let’s discuss the immune system and how it works. In short, the immune system is your body's natural defense against invading toxins, bacteria, viruses and other harmful invaders. Its primary job is to recognize and destroy these foreign invaders before they can cause you to get sick. 

When our immune systems are compromised or weakened, we become more susceptible to sickness and infection. Thankfully, Sweet Wormwood could help support the body’s immune system by supporting antioxidant activity.*REF#1153

Thanks to its active compounds (artemissinin and flavonoids), Sweet Wormwood contains powerful antioxidants to help protect and fight against oxidative stress and free radicals.* These are essential rogue molecules that can damage your body's cells, tissues and organs. 

By reducing oxidative stress, Sweet Wormwood may help support your immune system.REF#1153

Supports Nervous System

We’ve seen Sweet Wormwood’s potential for immune support, but what about the nervous system? Can this herb be a natural remedy to calm your nerves? 

In short, the leaves of this plant have a very bitter taste thanks to compounds known as artemisinins. However, as mentioned above, these can have soothing antioxidant properties.

When it comes to the nervous system, Sweet Wormwood may have some calming effects while helping to promote feelings of relaxation and contentment.REF#1155 What’s more, Sweet Wormwood is also thought to help support focus and concentration, which can also help soothe feelings of stress.REF#1155

Stress can also breed tension in the body. So, the potential calming effects are especially welcome news for people living with physical tension. 

Of course, research into the efficacy of this herb for supporting these issues is ongoing.

Supports Digestive Health

Digestive support is a huge deal these days, but digestion is sort of complicated. Have you ever wondered how your body breaks down food to use it as energy? That is the primary role of the body’s digestive system.

The digestive system helps us get the nutrients and energy our body needs from the food we eat. The digestive tract takes in food, breaks the food down, and absorbs all important nutrients.

This process starts at our mouth, where the breakdown of food occurs. From there, the food and nutrients travel through our intestinal tract where enzymes and acids help break down the food and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, the digestive system can be very sensitive to the foods we eat and environmental factors we’re exposed to.

Luckily, Sweet Wormwood may help. In short, this plant has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries as a popular herb for digestive health and support. Again, this is thanks to its active ingredient artemisinin. 

Basically, this potent compound can help soothe irritation in the gut, which can, in turn, help promote smooth digestion.REF#1154 This can also minimize symptoms of digestive discomfort like nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

All in all, the same powerful antioxidants that provide beneficial support for immune health are the same ones at work within the digestive system. The potential for Sweet Wormwood for supporting digestive health is truly exciting. 

Supports Overall Wellness

Studies have also shown that Sweet Wormwood contains certain compounds that may help the body fight off certain harmful bacteria.REF#1152

As mentioned earlier, the active components found within Sweet Wormwood are known as artemisinins. These can help support the immune system.

Our Favorite Sweet Wormwood Products

Microbiome Cleanse

One of the newest members of our digestive line, Microbiome Cleanse helps to support the body’s natural cleansing process, and is great for those who enjoy trying new foods.* Made with Sweet Wormwood, Black Walnut, Oregon Grape, Andrographis, and Peppermint, this formula helps to balance the GI tract.*

When looking at this formula through a TCM lens, our Formulation Manager, Susan Hirsch, MS, CNS, shared, "Sweet Wormwood was specifically chosen to balance the cold that Andrographis, Oregon Grape, and Black Walnut can create within the body. Both Sweet Wormwood and Oregano contain warming volatile oils that help balance out the cold, and they are also bitters that help support digestive health.*"

Wormwood Black Walnut Supreme

A healthy gut is essential for overall well-being.* Support your GI tract health with this unique herbal liquid extract that is easy to use at home or take on the go. Combining Sweet Wormwood with fresh green hulls of Black Walnuts, extracted immediately after harvest to preserve the full spectrum compounds for optimal potency, plus a blend of Pomegranate, Coptis, Gentian, and Wormwood.

Welcome Wormwood into Your Herbal Routine

With its digestive-supporting properties and long history of traditional use for occasional digestive complaints, Sweet Wormwood is a great herbal aid.* It can keep you feeling your best when visiting new environments, traveling, and trying new foods, so consider this herb when packing for your next adventure.


  • 3. Sanjeev Krishna et al., "Artemisinins: Their Growing Importance in Medicine", Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (Elsevier BV, October 1, 2008).
  • 4. Wansu Kim et al., "Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Effects of Artemisinin Extracts fromArtemisia AnnuaL", The Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (The Korean Physiological Society and The Korean Society of Pharmacology, December 31, 2014).
  • 5. Chang Yeol Yang, Donghui Hu, and Yan Feng,, "Antibacterial Activity and Mode of Action of the Artemisia Capillaris Essential Oil and Its Constituents against Respiratory Tract Infection-Causing Pathogens", Molecular Medicine Reports (Spandidos Publishing, April 1, 2015).
  • 6. Kamarauskaite, J., Baniene, R., Raudone, L., Vilkickyte, G., Vainoriene, R., Motiekaityte, V., & Trumbeckaite, S. (2021), "Antioxidant and Mitochondria-Targeted Activity of Caffeoylquinic-Acid-Rich Fractions of Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium L.) and Silver Wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana Nutt", Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 10(9), 1405.
  • 7. Ivanov, M., Gašić, U., Stojković, D., Kostić, M., Mišić, D., & Soković, M. (2021), "New Evidence for Artemisia absinthium L. Application in Gastrointestinal Ailments: Ethnopharmacology, Antimicrobial Capacity, Cytotoxicity, and Phenolic Profile. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine", eCAM, 2021, 9961089..
  • 8. Batiha, G. E., Olatunde, A., El-Mleeh, A., Hetta, H. F., Al-Rejaie, S., Alghamdi, S., Zahoor, M., Magdy Beshbishy, A., Murata, T., Zaragoza-Bastida, A., & Rivero-Perez, N. (2020), "Bioactive Compounds, Pharmacological Actions, and Pharmacokinetics of Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)", Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland), 9(6), 353.
  • 9. Mount Sinai, "Intestinal Parasites", .