By Janelle Eklund
It was late in the day at Silver Lake and I scouted around to see what plants to take photos of. It was another one of those warm days but big black thunder heads were rolling in.
Before the rain hit I was able to capture a few plants in my camera's eye, including Artemisia tilesii.
The common name, wormwood, stuck when people used it for getting rid of roundworms and pinworms. The treatment is drinking two cups of tea a day, using the dry herb - one tsp per cup, for one or two weeks. For treating animals powder the flowers and put in their feed.
It is important that when taking Artemisia tilesii internally it be used in small amounts as a spice or cold tea. It contains absinthol, and taken in large doses repeatedly, can cause coma and convulsions. Taken in small amounts it is fine.
Wormwood tea is also helpful for easing cramps during menstruation and a good remedy for colds. Janice Schofield recommends pouring two cups boiling water over one-fourth cup leaves and flowers and steep for five minutes. Just sip mouthfuls of this throughout the day to ward off a cold. Another suggestion for colds is making a tincture with it and take a dropper full, or dilute it in a cup of water.
To make a tincture use 1 oz. chopped dried wormwood to five fluid ounces of alcohol as the menstruum - I use 80 proof brandy. If you don't want to use alcohol you can use glycerin or apple cider vinegar. Put the herb/menstruum mixture in a glass jar, cover, and sit on the counter for two weeks. Shake the jar twice a day to mingle the herb with the menstruum. After two weeks strain with your handy dandy coffee press, put in an amber bottle with a dropper, label, and store in a cool dark place.
This herb may have a pleasing aroma, but don't be surprised when you subject it to your taste buds, as it is pretty bitter. The bitterness stimulates gastric secretions so if you have an upset stomach or heartburn taking a few sips of wormwood tea can be helpful. The Dena'ina use the tea as a wash for skin rashes, blood poisoned areas, athletes foot and all kinds of infections. Fresh leaves can also be put in the shoes to cure athletes foot or ease fatigue.
To ease a sore throat gargle with a decoction of the herb or chew a few of the leaves. To make a decoction put a handful of the dry herb in a quart of cold water in a sauce pan and cover. Let it sit over night or for at least one hour so the herbs soak up a lot of the water. Then slowly bring the water to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and use hot or cold.
The macerated leaves of wormwood are also helpful for a stuffy nose - just put inside nostrils, or use like a head steam - boil in a pan of water and inhale the steam, being careful not to burn yourself.
I've run out of room so stayed tuned once again next week for more on this wonderful medicinal plant.
From my light to yours-
Information for this article was gleaned from Janice Schofield's book, Discovering Wild Plants
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.