Ambrosia, apasote, apazote, aritasou (Japanese), Artemisia cina, ascaridol, Asteraceae/Compositae, Brazilian Chenopodium ambrosioides, Chenopodiaceae, Dysphania ambrosioides, epazote, forb, goosefoot, Herba Sancti Mariae, Jeruzalem oak, Jesuit's tea, l'anserine vermifuge (French), levant, mastruz (Portuguese), Mexican tea, paico, QRD 400, santonica, saponins, sea wormwood, semen China, semen cinae, semenzina, Seriphidium cinum, sweet pigweed, UDA-245, West Indian goosefoot, worm grass, wormseed, wormzaad (Dutch), yerba de Santa Mar©a (Spanish).
Wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Dysphania ambrosioides) is native to Central and South America and the Caribbean. Its name comes from the centuries-old use of the plant by the Mayan people of Central America to treat intestinal worms. Wormseed has also been used traditionally to treat asthma and dysentery and, in Europe and Northern Africa, to relieve menstrual cramps. Wormseed was used by the Aztecs to flavor food and is an important ingredient in Mexican cooking today.
The most common use of wormseed is the treatment of infection with parasites, such as worms. For this use, wormseed is taken by mouth. The active ingredient in wormseed is ascaridole. However, wormseed is toxic, and its use may result in poisoning and death.
Further high-quality human study is needed before conclusions may be made on the use of American wormseed for any condition.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Preliminary study suggests that wormseed is effective in the treatment of parasitic worms. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, appetite stimulant, arthritis, asthma, cancer, carminative (agent that prevents or relieves intestinal gas), colic, cramps, depression, digestive tonic, eczema, gas, heart conditions (stimulant), hemorrhoids, induction of labor/abortion, insecticidal (fumigant), menstrual flow stimulant, mosquito repellent, nervous disorders (nervine), pain relief, paralysis, Parkinson's disease, rheumatism (joint disease), skin disorders (ulcers), stomach pain, tuberculosis (an infectious disease that affects the lungs), wound care (poultice).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Wormseed is highly toxic and may be fatal when taken by mouth.
As a treatment to destroy intestinal worms, a concentrated extract has been made by boiling up to 300 milligrams of dry plant material per kilogram of body weight in water. The extract has then been taken by mouth. Doses of up to 6,000 milligrams per kilogram of powdered dried plant have been taken by mouth. A form of medicine, having the consistency of honey and made of conserves, powders, and bruised fruit, has been taken by mouth in doses of 20 grains (1,300 milligrams), according to anecdote. A liquid extract has been prepared, and 0.5 to 1 drachm (or dram, 1.78 to 3.55 milliliters) has been taken by mouth. Alternatively, an extract made by boiling one ounce of the fresh plant with one pint of milk or water has been taken by mouth in doses of a wineglassful.
Children (under 18 years old)
Wormseed is highly toxic and may be fatal when taken by mouth.
There is no proven safe or effective dose for American wormseed in children.
As a treatment to destroy intestinal worms, 0.3 to 0.6 milliliters has been taken by mouth on an empty stomach, followed in about two hours by a laxative such as castor oil. The treatment has been repeated 10 days later.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to wormseed, its components, or to members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family. This plant family includes artichoke (Cynara), chrysanthemums, daisies, endive (Cichorium), lettuce (Lactuca), marigolds, ragweed, safflower (Carthamus), salsify (Tragopogon), sunflower (Helianthus), and many other herbs.
Side Effects and Warnings
Wormseed is highly toxic and may be fatal when taken by mouth. Death has been reported with doses of less than 1 gram of herb taken by mouth.
Symptoms of poisoning are possible with the amounts used to treat parasitic infestations. Symptoms of poisoning may include kidney irritation (pain on the side of the body between the ribs and the hip, and painful urination), inflamed stomach and intestines, stupor, visual disorders, muscle twitching, and spasms.
Severe side effects may include signs of paralysis, as well as hearing loss that can last for years.
When used in excess (amounts not available), wormseed may also cause skin reactions, vomiting, dizziness, and convulsions.
Avoid taking by mouth and other uses.
Avoid in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to wormseed, its constituents, or to members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family. This plant family includes artichoke (Cynara), chrysanthemums, daisies, endive (Cichorium), lettuce (Lactuca), marigolds, ragweed, safflower (Carthamus), salsify (Tragopogon), sunflower (Helianthus), and many other herbs.
Note: Avoid confusing wormseed with chenopodium oil (or wormseed oil), wormwood oil, or wormwood. Avoid confusing wormseed, also referred to as levant, with levant berry.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Wormseed is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to its toxicity.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Wormseed may interact with anticancer drugs, antifungals, and antiparasitic drugs.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Wormseed may interact with anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, and antiparasitic herbs and supplements.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
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- Sowemimo AA, Fakoya FA, Awopetu I, et al. Toxicity and mutagenic activity of some selected Nigerian plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;113(3):427-432.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)