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American wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides, Dysphania ambrosioides)

Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by MyFormulary

Alternate Title

  • Chenopodium ambrosioides

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

    Disclaimer

    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.

    P – P


    C C – C

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    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.

Dosing

    Disclaimer

    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.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    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

    Disclaimer

    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.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Cruz GV, Pereira PV, Patricio FJ, et al. Increase of cellular recruitment, phagocytosis ability and nitric oxide production induced by hydroalcoholic extract from Chenopodium ambrosioides leaves. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;111(1):148-154.
    View Abstract
  • De Almeida MA, Domingues LF, Almeida GN, et al. [Effects of aqueous extracts of Mentha piperita L. and Chenopodium ambrosioides L. leaves in infective larvae cultures of gastrointestinal nematodes of goats]. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 2007;16(1):57-59.
    View Abstract
  • Efferth T, Olbrich A, Sauerbrey A, et al. Activity of ascaridol from the anthelmintic herb Chenopodium anthelminticum L. against sensitive and multidrug-resistant tumor cells. Anticancer Res 2002;22(6C):4221-4224.
    View Abstract
  • Gadano AB, Gurni AA, Carballo MA. Argentine folk medicine: genotoxic effects of Chenopodiaceae family. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;103(2):246-251.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • Jardim CM, Jham GN, Dhingra OD, et al. Composition and antifungal activity of the essential oil of the Brazilian Chenopodium ambrosioides L. J Chem Ecol 2008;34(9):1213-1218.
    View Abstract
  • Kumar R, Mishra AK, Dubey NK, et al. Evaluation of Chenopodium ambrosioides oil as a potential source of antifungal, antiaflatoxigenic and antioxidant activity. Int J Food Microbiol 2007;115(2):159-164.
    View Abstract
  • Molina-Salinas GM, Ramos-Guerra MC, Vargas-Villarreal J, et al. Bactericidal activity of organic extracts from Flourensia cernua DC against strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Arch Med Res 2006;37(1):45-49.
    View Abstract
  • Monzote L, Garcia M, Montalvo AM, et al. In vitro activity of an essential oil against Leishmania donovani. Phytother Res 2007;21(11):1055-1058.
    View Abstract
  • Monzote L, Montalvo AM, Scull R, et al. Activity, toxicity and analysis of resistance of essential oil from Chenopodium ambrosioides after intraperitoneal, oral and intralesional administration in BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania amazonensis: a preliminary study. Biomed Pharmacother 2007;61(2-3):148-153.
    View Abstract
  • Monzote L, Montalvo AM, Scull R, et al. Combined effect of the essential oil from Chenopodium ambrosioides and antileishmanial drugs on promastigotes of Leishmania amazonensis. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 2007;49(4):257-260.
    View Abstract
  • Nascimento FR, Cruz GV, Pereira PV, et al. Ascitic and solid Ehrlich tumor inhibition by Chenopodium ambrosioides L. treatment. Life Sci 2006;78(22):2650-2653.
    View Abstract
  • Park IK, Choi KS, Kim DH, et al. Fumigant activity of plant essential oils and components from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), anise (Pimpinella anisum) and garlic (Allium sativum) oils against Lycoriella ingenua (Diptera: Sciaridae). Pest Manag Sci 2006;62(8):723-728.
    View Abstract
  • Patricio FJ, Costa GC, Pereira PV, et al. Efficacy of the intralesional treatment with Chenopodium ambrosioides in the murine infection by Leishmania amazonensis. J Ethnopharmacol 2008;115(2):313-319.
    View Abstract
  • 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.
    View Abstract
  • Sowemimo AA, Fakoya FA, Awopetu I, et al. Toxicity and mutagenic activity of some selected Nigerian plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;113(3):427-432.
    View Abstract
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