Care and medicinal uses of male abrótano

The male abrótano, is an ornamental shrub belonging to the Asteraceae family , native to the Mediterranean area of ​​Europe, mainly Spain and Italy. The genus Artemisia is made up of 1,598 species according to The plant list , of which 481 are accepted. The rest are synonyms or plants still in the process of acceptance or classification.

Its scientific name is Artemisia abrotanum , but it is known by several common names such as: Worm grass, mugwort, alsuila, green balsam, worm plant, lemon balm (for its lemon aroma), headed thyme, woman’s broom, ether grass, doggy thyme and a long etcetera.

Although at one time it could be found in abundance in the wild, today it is quite rare, but thanks to the pleasant aroma of lemon it gives off and its reputation for being a plant to which a large number of medicinal properties are attributed, today today it is still cultivated in orchards and gardens.

About her name there are those who say that it is in honor of Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and healing virtues, on the other hand there are those who think that it is due to Artemisia II, who was queen in Caria in 352 BC and that she was a expert in botany and medicine.


The southernwood is a herbaceous plant quite like wormwood that can reach between 50 centimeters and 1 meter high. Its green leaves are pinnate and hairy or hairy, silky in texture, small in size and divided into narrow linear segments.

Its bright yellow flowers have a slight lemon flavor and when flowering they come in small hanging clusters. It blooms from July to October.


With a Mediterranean climate, it grows abundantly in places where summers are warm and winters are mild , and in areas where there is humidity. Although it is quite resistant and can withstand times of drought and low temperatures.

It prefers dry, limestone soils with good sandy drainage. A contribution of organic matter will favor a greater intensity in flowering and a denser foliage.


It requires moderate irrigation and is able to sustain itself only with rainwater.


The flowers sprout in spring and last until late summer, which is when they are in an optimal state of collection for medicinal use along with the leaves.

It is convenient to mow the plant about 30 centimeters from the ground at the end of the summer to favor the new sprouting in spring.


The male abrótano, has been and continues to be very popular since many aromatic and medicinal benefits are attributed to it . With it, infusions, herbal teas and lotions are prepared as natural remedies for various uses. One of the most famous was the fortifying hair lotion, which was present in almost all traditional barbershops in the 60s and 70s and was applied with great devotion by men who were already beginning to thin the crown.

It is also recognized as having a great effect as an insect repellent, the French know it as the herb ” garde robe” and use it in closets as a moth-proofer .

And it is not only the male opening. In general, many plants of the genus Artemisia have similar properties and have been used in traditional medicine. And remember that in the end much of the pharmaceutical industry drinks from the compounds of these plants. And it is not a criticism, quite the contrary. The pharmacy (among other things) studies the effects of the active principles to apply them in the appropriate doses.

Active principles of male abrótano

Used in the elaboration of medicinal formulas, the leaves, stems and flowers of the male abrótano contain the following active principles:

  • Abrotannins
  • Flavonoids.
  • Hydroxycoumarins.
  • Essential oils
  • Polyphenolic acids

Of the essential oils extracted in this study , we specifically highlight the percentage of piperitone , a compound used as raw material for the production of synthetic thymol, a molecule that is found naturally in thyme among other plants and that has highly contrasted antimicrobial properties .

Therapeutic uses

Such is the historical importance of the therapeutic properties attributed to this plant, that Charlemagne, in chapter 70 of his Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii, decreed the mandatory rule that Artemisia abrotanum L. , along with other plants and trees , was cultivated in the gardens that were spread throughout his empire.

The list of uses and applications that have been compiled throughout history is therefore legendary:

  • Relieves stomach pain in episodes of gastritis, flavonoids act as an antispasmodic by relaxing smooth muscle.
  • Improves heavy digestions by stimulating the digestive process and promoting the production and elimination of bile.
  • Strengthens the liver and improves liver functions.
  • Improves sores and canker sores in the mouth.
  • In women it relieves painful menstruations and regulates the period.
  • Helps wounds by accelerating the healing process and as an antimicrobial agent.
  • Relieves the pain of muscle contractures by applying it to the skin.
  • Relieves itching or itching of the skin.
  • Treats and helps eliminate intestinal parasites such as: Ascaris lumbricoides , Enterobius vermicularis , Trichuris trichiura or Taenia (tapeworm). Hence its common name of worm plant.
  • It improves seborrheic dermatitis, helps in the elimination of dandruff and fights alopecia, although we all know that androgenic alopecia has little or no remedy.

And it’s not that we take this off our sleeve. There are numerous publications about it. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Study on people with allergic rhinitis in which their efficacy is evaluated thanks to their essential oils and flavonoids as antispasmodic, expectorant, antiseptic and antimicrobial: Remberg, P., Björk, L., Hedner, T., & Sterner, O. ( 2004). Characteristics, clinical effect profile and tolerability of a nasal spray preparation of Artemisia abrotanum L. for allergic rhinitis.  Phytomedicine ,  11 (1), 36-42.
  2. Evaluation study of Artemisia abrotanum extracts and other plants as intestinal antiparasitic treatment with very positive results. Amirmohammadi, M., Khajoenia, S., Bahmani, M., Rafieian-Kopaei, M., Eftekhari, Z., & Qorbani, M. (2014). In vivo evaluation of antiparasitic effects of Artemisia abrotanum and Salvia officinalis extracts on Syphacia obvelata, Aspiculoris tetrapetra and Hymenolepis nana parasites . Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease ,  4 , S250-S254.


At present we can find products that contain male abrótano among their ingredients, such as lotions , shampoos or tinctures, their leaves and flowers are also marketed already prepared for use in infusions, bottles of essences for aromatherapy or even essential oils. Although if you have a plant at home and want to take advantage of it to make the preparations yourself, there are several ways.

The first thing you have to do is collect the leaves and flowers towards the end of summer and then let them dry by tying them in bouquets and hanging them in a dark, ventilated and humidity-free area. After about ten days, the plant will be dry and you can keep it in an opaque glass jar with hermetic closure so that it does not lose its properties.


In a glass container with a lid, mix 100 grams of the dried plant with a liter of 60-degree ethyl alcohol (available in pharmacies), close and store in a dark and cool place for about twenty days, shaking it daily. After that time the mixture is passed through a fine filter and stored in an opaque bottle.

This same process can be carried out by substituting the alcohol for olive oil or glycerin to obtain the fluid extract.


We will put in a container to the fire 50 gr. of dried plant in 200 ml. of water and bring to a boil, let it boil for two minutes and remove from the heat, letting it infuse for a few minutes.

Despite having many benefits, the male apron is contraindicated in pregnant or lactating women . It is also advisable to consult the appropriate doses with a doctor, since it has been shown that it contains substances that can be toxic to humans.

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