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The genus Artemisia spp, includes the herb tarragon, mugworts, wormwoods (the flavouring in absinthe) and the highly poisonous nightshades. The plants are generally low growing woody shrubs or annual herbs.

Wormwood has traditionally been used in the West as a natural treatment for intestinal worms and other parasites. Preparations are available for this purpose, often also containing black walnut and clove oil. Wormwood is also claimed to be helpful for poor digestion, liver and gall bladder congestion and halitosis.

Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) has long been used in China as a herbal tea preparation for treating malaria and fevers. Studies in China in the 1970s led to the isolation and characterisation of artemisinin as the principal anti-malarial compound, and drug companies now extract and purify the compound in manufacturing the medicine in tablet form. This form of malaria control is proving so successful that it is now the preferred treatment, and has displaced the use of quinine.




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