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American wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Dysphania ambrosioides)

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Also listed as: Chenopodium ambrosioides
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • 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 María (Spanish).

Background
  • 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.

Evidence Table

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. GRADE *


Preliminary study suggests that wormseed is effective in the treatment of parasitic worms. Further research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C
* 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 for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

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).

Dosing

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.

Safety

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.

Allergies

  • 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.

Interactions

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.

Attribution
  • 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).

Bibliography
  1. Cruz GV, Pereira PV, Patricio FJ, et al. Increase of cellular recruitment, phagocytosis ability and nitric oxide production induced by hydroalcoholic extract from leaves. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;111(1):148-154.
  2. De Almeida MA, Domingues LF, Almeida GN, et al. [Effects of aqueous extracts of L. and L. leaves in infective larvae cultures of gastrointestinal nematodes of goats]. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 2007;16(1):57-59.
  3. Efferth T, Olbrich A, Sauerbrey A, et al. Activity of ascaridol from the anthelmintic herb L. against sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells. Anticancer Res 2002;22(6C):4221-4224.
  4. Gadano AB, Gurni AA, Carballo MA. Argentine folk medicine: genotoxic effects of Chenopodiaceae family. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;103(2):246-251.
  5. Gillij YG, Gleiser RM, Zygadlo JA. Mosquito repellent activity of essential oils of aromatic plants growing in Argentina. Bioresour Technol 2008;99(7):2507-2515.
  6. Jardim CM, Jham GN, Dhingra OD, et al. Composition and antifungal activity of the essential oil of the Brazilian L. J Chem Ecol 2008;34(9):1213-1218.
  7. Kumar R, Mishra AK, Dubey NK, et al. Evaluation of oil as a potential source of antifungal, antiaflatoxigenic and antioxidant activity. Int J Food Microbiol 2007;115(2):159-164.
  8. Molina-Salinas GM, Ramos-Guerra MC, Vargas-Villarreal J, et al. Bactericidal activity of organic extracts from DC against strains of tuberculosis. Arch Med Res 2006;37(1):45-49.
  9. Monzote L, Garcia M, Montalvo AM, et al. activity of an essential oil against . Phytother Res 2007;21(11):1055-1058.
  10. Monzote L, Montalvo AM, Scull R, et al. Activity, toxicity and analysis of resistance of essential oil from after intraperitoneal, oral and intralesional administration in BALB/c mice infected with : a preliminary study. Biomed Pharmacother 2007;61(2-3):148-153.
  11. Monzote L, Montalvo AM, Scull R, et al. Combined effect of the essential oil from and antileishmanial drugs on promastigotes of . Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 2007;49(4):257-260.
  12. Nascimento FR, Cruz GV, Pereira PV, et al. Ascitic and solid Ehrlich tumor inhibition by L. treatment. Life Sci 2006;78(22):2650-2653.
  13. Park IK, Choi KS, Kim DH, et al. Fumigant activity of plant essential oils and components from horseradish (), anise () and garlic () oils against (Diptera: Sciaridae). Pest Manag Sci 2006;62(8):723-728.
  14. Patricio FJ, Costa GC, Pereira PV, et al. Efficacy of the intralesional treatment with in the murine infection by . J Ethnopharmacol 2008;115(2):313-319.
  15. Ruffa MJ, Ferraro G, Wagner ML, et al. Cytotoxic effect of Argentine medicinal plant extracts on human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;79(3):335-339.
  16. 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)


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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