Absinthium consists of the dried leaves and flowering tops of Artemisia Absinthium, Linn. (N.O. Compositae), a herbaceous plant, growing in Northern Asia and Europe, and naturalised in the United States. The leaves and tops should be gathered in July and August, when the plant is in flower. The odour of the drug is aromatic; the taste, aromatic and bitter. Both upper and under surfaces of the leaf bear abundant hairs and glands. The hairs consist of a long spindle-shaped cell supported horizontally at its centre on a short three-celled pedicel. The glands possess the structure common to those of plants of the same natural order.
Constituents.—The chief constituent of wormwood is a volatile oil, of which the herb yields from 0.5 to 1.0 per cent. It is usually dark green or sometimes blue in colour, and has a strong odour and bitter, acrid taste. The oil contains thujone (absinthol or tanacetone, an isomer of camphor), thujyl alcohol (both free and combined with acetic, isovalerianic and other acids), cadinene, phellandrene, and pinene. The herb also contains the bitter glucoside absinthin, and absinthic acid.
Action and Uses.—The most characteristic action of absinthium is stimulation of the cerebral hemispheres. It first produces symptoms like those of camphor, followed in much larger doses by convulsions exactly resembling those of the epileptic fit. It was formerly an ingredient of various vinous preparations, of which absinthe is the present representative. Those addicted to the use of absinthe fall into a condition known as absinthism. This is shown by restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, tremors, and epileptiform convulsions in which the patient loses consciousness, falls down, has clonic convulsions, and may bite his tongue, pass water, and foam at the mouth. This drug is rarely employed, but it might be of value in nervous diseases such as neurasthenia, or in any condition in which a direct stimulation of the cortex cerebri is desirable. Absinthium is administered in the form of extract, infusion, and tincture.
Dose.—1 to 3 grammes (15 to 45 grains).
- Extractum Absinthii, B.P.C.—EXTRACT OF ABSINTHIUM.
- Dose.—6 to 12 decigrams (10 to 20 grains).
- Infusum Absinthii, B.P.C.—INFUSION OF ABSINTHIUM. 1 to 20.
- Dose.—30 to 60 mils (1 to 2 fluid ounces).
- Tinctura Absinthii, B.P.C.—TINCTURE OF ABSINTHIUM. 1 in 10.
- Dose.—4 to 15 mils (1 to 4 fluid drachms).