Wormwood, a plant with multiple virtues

Since the dawn of time, people have used the healing properties of the plants nature has provided them with, most of them having therapeutic qualities that act directly on the organism.

According to legend, it was because it protected women that the goddess Artemis, Greek divinity of the moon and the hunt, gave her name "Artemisia Absinthium" to the plant which made difficult times in their lives easier, such as puberty and the menopause.

Since earliest antiquity, wormwood was considered to have invaluable medicinal properties. It was mentioned in an Egyptian papyrus dating from 1600 BC as having digestive, tonic, antiseptic and stimulating qualities and being effective against fever and worms. It was also said to repel clothes moths from wardrobes and deter insects and mosquitoes.

Wormwood is a hardy plant with a strong aromatic scent and an extremely bitter taste. The stem can grow to more than a metre high and bears deeply indented leaves which are greenish-grey on the upper side and silvery-white underneath. The branches end in heads of small yellow spherical flowers which are harvested in flower (July-August).

 

A plant with many medicinal properties, wormwood was prescribed as an infusion or macerated in wine. In Roman times, wormwood was macerated with anise in wine to soften the belly, dispel stomach weaknesses and promote digestion. The ancient Greeks used it against malaria.

Throughout the Early Middle Ages, absinthe wine was a common drink in Europe and contained absinthe, hyssop and anise. With digestive, energy-giving and tonic properties, the drink was drunk in the morning on an empty stomach or before meals.

In Martinique, West Indians would macerate a sprig of absinthe, vanilla pod, cinnamon and lime in rum. This antiparasitic drink was taken in the morning on an empty stomach and provided energy for starting the day, hence its name "décollage" [lift-off in English].