The plant known as artemisia is called wormwood in the traditional herbal literature. This plant is a bushy perennial shrub that can reach 2 to 4 feet high - from 60 to 120 centimeters. The artemisia is found in the wild in the forest of East Asia, it is native to the island of Taiwan, the Japanese islands and the northern parts of the People's Republic of China. The botanical name of the plant is Artemisia capillaris, often described as a bushy, woody perennial or even a sub-shrub. Artemisia is mainly cultivated for its very aromatic, fine and gray green foliage that is used in different processes. Artemisia also gives off tiny and almost inconspicuous, yellowish white colored, discoid shaped flower heads without any rays; these are borne on panicles at the ending of the stems in the summer months. The floral heads are without any ornamental value and are not prized.
The broken tips of this mildly aromatic plant is used by herbalists, the broken pieces cut from the top of the plant are used to prepare a wide range of herbal medications. Artemisia has been unfortunately condemned by some researchers as a dangerous medication; this situation has been caused by a misunderstanding of the chemical properties shown by the wormwood.
Herbal teas and tinctures are also made from the artemisia and used in herbal therapy. Artemisia based herbal products are well known to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine - or TCM. Chinese traditional medical doctors usually supply artemisia and call this herb as well as all the products made from by the name - yen chen hao. Artemisia based herbal products can be obtained from shops that sell traditional Chinese medicine.
The anti-microbial properties seen in the artemisia has uses in the treatment of several conditions. The plant is in addition considered to be a cholagogue - that is a substance which stimulates the production of bile in the liver. Artemisia has beneficial effects and is used in treating some very specific health conditions such as:
Artemisia based herbal products are used in treating several bladder and parasitic infections that affect different individuals. The potent parasite eliminating capability of the artemisia is of great benefit in cleansing the intestine of parasites, at the same time the chemicals in the herb are compatible with the natural intestinal flora. Artemisia based herbal medications helps in the treatment of urinary tract infections brought on by the Klebsiella bacteria. Artemisia remedies are also important in the treatment of malaria. One of the most potent chemicals in artemisia is artemisine; this is very effective against the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum - an organism that causes a very serious form of malaria in people. The chemical artemisine is in fact, one of the few natural treatments for this form of malaria. In addition, the chemical artemisine has a very effective action against the organism that causes river blindness - a dangerous debilitating disease in parts of Africa. Artemisia is effective in treating persistent constipation and diarrhea. One effect of the artemisia is that it soothes the inflammation affecting intestinal tissues; the plant also aids the digestion and boosts the circulation of nutrients to the cells. Artemisia based medications also help alleviate abdominal cramping and stomach pain. Artemisia based medications are also helpful against hepatitis and jaundice. The secretion of bile into the gastrointestinal tract is also aided by artemisia; this effect helps the liver in rapidly draining away all the accumulated metabolic waste products in the hepatic tissues. The rate of liver cell regeneration can also be boosted when artemisia is used in combination with another herb called gardenia - botanical name, Gardenia jasminoidis. Artemisia beneficially affects the functioning of the liver; it benefits the functioning of the stomach, the spleen as well as the gallbladder. Artemisia based products can clear up disorders like jaundice and fever, and are used in the treatment of hepatitis and related liver disorders.
Habitat and cultivation
Artemisia is very easy to grow, it manages to grow very well in slightly alkaline loamy soil or in well drained circumneutral soils - the plant grows well in places exposed to good sunlight throughout the day. Artemisia is quite tolerant to drought and low moisture conditions. In fact, plants grown in poor and dry soils are actually longer lived, much hardier and have more of the prized aromatic quality. When grown in temperate places like Britain, this species will probably not be as hardy in all parts of the country as temperature varies quite a lot along the length of the British Isles - however, artemisia can easily tolerate temperatures that are as low as -5° C. Another notable feature of all the plants included in this genus is their resistance to the honey fungus - a common fungus that affects many plants. At the same time, plants in this genus are rarely troubled by deer and other browsing animals.
Artemisia is usually propagated using the seeds. These seeds are sown on the soil surface in late winter and sometime in the early summer when they are grown in a greenhouse. When the seeds germinate and seedlings become large enough to handle, they are pricked and sorted out into individual pots and then plant out in the summer months. Plants are also grown from cuttings of the half ripe wood; these are placed in a frame sometime in July or August. They are then divided in the spring or autumn.