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Artemisia abrotanum (L)

Synonyms and Common names: Lad's love, Boy's love, Old man, Appleringie

French = Garde robe or Aurone, German = Ebberante, Spanish = Abrotana, Italian = Abrotano

Order: Compositae

Description: Artemisia abrotanum is a shrubby plant which has very fine bipinnate leaves with linear pointed segments and a strong characteristic fragrance. The flowers are yellowish-white. It is indigenous to Spain and Italy but widely cultivated as a garden plant elsewhere.

Parts used: Aerial parts

Collection: It is best collected in August and September during the flowering period (it rarely flowers in Britain), and dried carefully to preserve the volatile oil.

Constituents: Volatile oil with bitter sesquiterpene lactones

Actions: Bitter digestive tonic, emmenagogue, anthelmintic, antiseptic, uterine stimulant, chlorotropic

Indications: delayed menstruation, threadworms in children

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Artemisia abrotanum is used to aid menstrual flow. It is specifically indicated in amenorrhoea associated with neurosis (for example in anorexia nervosa) and will act to initiate delayed menstruation. It is also a valuable bitter tonic, strengthening and supporting digestive function by increasing digestive secretions.  Its bitter stimulation will help remove threadworm from children. Topically, it may be used as an insect repellent.

Combinations: With Chamaelirium for delayed menstruation.

Caution: Should be avoided during pregnancy due to its stimulating action on the uterine muscles.

Preparation and Dosage: (thrice daily)

Dried herb: 2-4g or by infusion

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

Additional Comments: The scent of Southernwood repellent to insects, and the French call it garde robe because when it is laid among clothes it repels moths. It was traditionally believed to ward off infection and, up until the early part of last century, a bunch of southernwood and rue was placed at the side of a prisoner in the dock to prevent the contagion of jail fever. Women used to carry sprigs of the herb for its pungent odour, which they hoped might keep them awake during church services. The foliage is used in aromatic vinegars, floral waters and pot pourri.



Bartram, T. 1995 Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine, 1st edn.,Grace Publishers, Bournemouth.

Bremness, L. 1994 Herbs, Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Handbook, London.

BHMA 1983 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, BHMA, Bournemouth.

Chevallier, A. 1996 The Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Hoffmann, D. 1990 The New Holistic Herbal, Second Edition, Element, Shaftesbury.

Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.

Mills, S.Y. 1993 The A-Z of Modern Herbalism, Diamond Books, London.

Ody, P. 1993 The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Polunin, M. and Robbins, C. 1992 The Natural Pharmacy, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Weiss, R.F. 1991 Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, Beaconsfield.


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Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals