- Chenopodium ambrosioides L.
- Chenopodium anthelminticum L.
- Goosefoot family
Parts Usually Used
Seeds, essential oil
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Wormseed is an annual or perennial stout aromatic plant 3-5 feet
tall. Its erect stem is strongly branched from the base. Oblong or
lanceolate with lacerate-pinnatifid margins, its alternate, yellowish-green
leaves are marked beneath with small resinous particles. Blooming
from July to September, the numerous green flowers grow on almost
leafless spikes and are followed by small, green bladdery fruits with
solitary, lenticular seeds. Seeds glandular-spotted.
Found in waste places in almost all parts of the United States. Naturalized
from Central America.
Anthelmintic (killing intestinal worms).
The oil of chenopodium, derived from the seeds and other overground
parts of wormseed, is an excellent anthelmintic for roundworms,
tapeworms, intestinal amoeba, and other intestinal parasites,
though it is not as effective against large tapeworms. Either the
oil or an infusion of seeds with milk was used in treating worms in
children. Now largely replaced by synthetics, wormseed is seldom used.
Wormseed is also used as a mild cardiac stimulant and to promote
secretions of skin and kidneys.
This herb's oil is highly toxic. A dash of the leaves
is added as a culinary herb to Mexican bean dishes in the belief that
it may reduce gas. May cause dermatitis, vertigo (dizziness or light-headedness)
or an allergic reaction.
An overdose of the oil can result in poisoning and death. (a 1 year
old baby given a dose of 4 drops 3 times per day for 2 days, died
and other cases of overdose deaths are on record.
Do not use wormseed without medical supervision.