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Botanical Description & Habitat

Artemisa abronatum


Common names
Boy's love
Lad's love
Old man tree

Native of Europe and has been naturalized in North America

Has a perennial root that produces numerous stems covered with a gray bark. The leaves are pinnate to tripinnate, and divided into many fine, bristly segments. The flowers are small and yellow-white.

Medicinal parts
Whole plant, dried, collected in August

Historical Properties & Uses

Southernwood has been largely overshadowed by its famous relative, wormwood. It possesses many of the same properties as wormwood, but is considered safer. Southernwood is a cholagogue, useful in the treatment of digestive disturbances.

Method of Action

Southernwood has been found to have good choleretic activity. In one study on rats, southernwood was found to be the best choleretic among those tested.

Animals in the alcohol control group experienced no increase in bile secretion or solids excretion. Those given an alcoholic extract of southernwood brought about a 60% increase in bile secretion and a 50% increase in solids. The active principle was tentatively identified as isofraxidin which is comparable to dehydrocholic acid in intensity.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Southernwood should be used with caution in conjunction with CNS depressants or stimulants.

The topical application of this astringent herb, in conjunction with the acne product tretinoin (retinoic acid, vitamin A acid), may adversely affect the skin.

In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in southernwood.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Southernwood has no known toxicity, but until the herb has been subjected to rigorous toxicology tests, precautions as with wormwood should be taken.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried herb
2-4 grams

made from 1 tsp of dried herb

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 2-4 ml

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY.

Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hyde. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Brit Herb Med Assoc: England, 1983.

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila (St. Louis).

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Nieschulz, O. & P. Schmersahl. Ueber choleretische wirkstoffe aus artemisia abrotanum. Arzneimittel-forschung, 18, 1330, 1968.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983.


Artemisa abronatum

? Southwest School of Botanical Medicine


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