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Mugwort

Mugwort plant picture

Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort Herb Properties and Medicinal Uses

Mugwort leaves are edible, young leaves are boiled as a pot herb or used in salad, they aid in digestion although said to have a bitter taste. Used for centuries as an alternative medicine, it is antibacterial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, purgative, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic, cleansing toxins from the blood.

An infusion of Mugwort leaves and flowering tops is used in the treatment of all matters connected to the digestive system, it increases stomach acid and bile production, eases gas and bloating, improving digestion, the absorption of nutrients and strengthening the entire digestive system. It is used in alternative medicine to expel intestinal worms, nervous and spasmodic affections, asthma, sterility, functional bleeding of the uterus and menstrual complaints, and diseases of the brain. As a gargle for sore throat, a wash for sores and a poultice for infections, tumors and to stop bleeding. These actions and uses are now backed by scientific studies on the plants main constituents volatile oils containing 1,8-cineole, artemisin, azulenes sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, coumarin derivatives, tannins, thujone and triterpenes. The leaves have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphococcus aureus, Bacillus typhi, B. dysenteriae, streptococci, E. coli, B. subtilis, and pseudomonas. A weak tea made from the infused plant is a good all-purpose insecticide. The fresh or the dried plant repels insects.Caution: Should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause a miscarriage.

Dr. Richard Alan Miller, Contributor

Dr. Richard Alan Miller has written works on this subject, here are some of his comments when I asked him about Mugwort.(Magical and Ritual Use series - Inner Traditions).   "First, let me say that the chemistries in question have always been associated with the leaf-part of the plant.  Mugwort is a slightly different species than Wormwood, but of the same genus (and oils).  Mugwort has an irritant which limits the ability for deep sleep.  Hence, its use as a Dream Pillow ingredient (allowing only low alphoid activity). From a chemistry point-of-view,  there is very little difference in where this crop is harvested.  We farm more than 10 acres in CA, and that produced in WI is essentially the same.  It does like a drier and hotter climate, but the herb grows in almost every state.  It is like Catnip, with no real cultivar variations.This irritant, when combined with other specific chemistries, may also act as a light depressant.  This is especially true when combined with Passion Flower and Lobelia.   Tinctured, other fatty oils become involved, making it a light euphoric or aphrodisiac.  For more detail, see my titles Magical and RitualUse of Herbs and Magical and Ritual Use of Aphrodisiacs.  --Richard Alan Miller DrRam@AOL.com    DrRam@Magick.net

Photo by Karen Bergeron  Copyright 2000

Artemisia vulgaris

Other Names   Artemisa, Carline Thistle, Chiu Ts’Ao, Common Mugwort, Douglas Mugwort, Felon herb, Sailor's tobacco, Wormwood

Mugwort Habitat and Plant Description

Mugwort is a perennial herb native to Africa, temperate Asia, and Europe, widely naturalized in most parts of the world. Found growing on hedgebanks and waysides, uncultivated and waste land. Cultivation is fairly easy Mugwort prefers slightly alkaline, well-drained loamy soil, in a a sunny position. A tall-growing shrubby plant, with angular stems, which are and often purplish, growing 3 feet or more in height. The leaves are smooth and dark green above and covered with a cottony down beneath. They are alternate, pinnately lobed, and segmented. The small greenish yellow flowers are panicled spikes with a cottony appearance. Blooming is from July to October. Mugwort is closely related to Common Wormwood (Absinthe). Gather leaves and stems when in bloom, dry for later herb use.

Mugwort History and Folklore  

  In Native American folklore Mugwort was also a Witchcraft medicine, rubbed the leaves on ones body to keep ghosts away or wearing a necklace to prevent dreaming of the dead. In the Middle Ages a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John’s Eve to gain security from evil possession. Mugwort derived its common name from being used to flavor drinks like beer before the introduction of hops. The Name Artemisia is from the Goddess Artemis (1st century AD) who inspired the plants genus name.

Mugwort Recipe

Medicinal tea: Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in one cup boiling water, take in mouthful doses throughout the day.

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Article by Deb Jackson

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