Common Trade Names
Available as dried, powdered santonin and oral tablets.
The flowers and seeds of Artemisia cina (a distinct variety of Artemisia maritima) are found in most parts of Asia.
Santonin, the active ingredient, is a lactone glycoside extracted from unopened flowers. It is bitter-tasting and odorless and occurs as a colorless to white crystalline powder. Other ingredients include artemisin and a volatile oil.
Some references claim that this herb has anthelmintic properties and is effective against roundworms and threadworms but not tapeworms.
Santonica has been used anecdotally throughout history as an anthelmintic for adults and, especially, children. Russia exported the crude powder to the United States during World War II, until the United States was able to produce a domestic supply itself. Santonica was used for pertussis in the 1700s .
Oral lozenges, powder, tablets: 2 to 5 grains P.O. in varying dosages.
CNS: epileptiform seizures, headache.
EENT: visual disturbances (including aberrations of color vision).
GI: nausea, vomiting.
Anticonvulsants: May lower seizure threshold. Avoid administration with santonica.
Contraindications and Precautions
Avoid using santonica in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown. Use cautiously in patients who are prone to seizures.
- Advise the patient not to take santonica without medical supervision.
- Caution the patient to avoid performing hazardous activities until CNS effects of santonica are known.
- Advise women to report planned or suspected pregnancy.
Alert Deaths have resulted from poisonings.
- Caution the patient to keep santonica out of the reach of children and pets.
Historically, santonica has been widely used as an anthelmintic. It was an official product in the National Formulary and British Pharmacopeia into the 1950s. Its value cannot be discounted, but more contemporary anthelmintics are probably less toxic and more effective against a wider range of worm infestations.