Mugwort is a common name for several species of aromatic flowering plants in the genus Artemisia. In Europe, mug wort most often refers to the species Artemisia vulgaris, or common mug wort. While other species are sometimes referred to by more specific common names, they may be called simply “mug wort” in many contexts.
This plant has a very long history. Some Chinese poems and songs mention it as far back as 3 BC. It is thought to be native to Europe, Northern Africa, and naturalized in much of the lower 48 United States. It has been used as a spice, food, medicine, spiritual aid, acupuncture implement (moxibustion), flavoring for beer and other beverages and as a moth and insect repellent in the garden. It contains volatile oils, giving it a strong bitter aroma with mint undertones. The fact that this plant is considered an invasive weed and is found growing in waste places provides evidence that it is a survivor and has something to offer.
What is Mugwort Used for?
The herb is quite complex with over 75 unique chemicals that have been identified. When used internally, it supports digestion and has relaxing properties. One of the major uses is in Korean, Japanese and Chinese traditional in the practice of Moxibustion; The herb can be placed directly on the skin, attached to acupuncture needles, or rolled into sticks and waved gently over the area to be treated. In all instances, the herb is ignited and releases heat. Not only is it the herb that is believed to have healing properties in this manner, but also the heat released from the herb in a precise area. There have been published clinical trials of this technique. See references for more details.
Mugwort is a plant. The parts that grow above the ground and the root are used to make medicine.
People use mug-wort for stomach and intestinal conditions, irregular periods, lack of energy, scarring, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
The Health Benefits of Mugwort
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris L.) is a perennial plant in the Asteraceae family. The plant is native to Northern Europe, and Asia; it can also be found in many parts of North America. The mugwort plant grows to 4 feet in height, but occasionally reaches heights of up to 6 feet. Its angular reddish-brown stems have bitter-tasting leaves that have a sage-like aroma. The plant blooms with yellow or dark orange flowers in the summer.
The mugwort plant has been traditionally used for everything from digestive disorders to beer-making, insect repellent, and more. Historically, mugwort was used by the Romans, who are said to have planted it by roadsides, so that marching soldiers could put the plant in their shoes. This was done to relieve aching feet. St. John the Baptist was said to have worn a girdle of mug-wort. In addition to its medicinal use, mugwort has been used for smudging, protection, and inducing vivid dreams (when placed underneath a person’s pillow).
Many people consider mug-wort a common weed. This is because the plant spreads aggressively, often taking over large areas of a garden. The plant is related to ragweed and may cause allergy symptoms that mimic those caused by ragweed allergies.
So, when it’s found growing in a person’s yard or garden, mug wort is often destroyed. But in other areas of the world, the benefits of mug-wort are much more appreciated. The parts of the plant that grow above ground and its roots are used to make medicine.
Mugwort has been ascribed many health-promoting and other beneficial properties.1 These include:
Mugwort is commonly used to treat many health conditions. Although there are preliminary studies that reveal mug-wort’s potential health benefits, there is not enough clinical research evidence to definitively support the safety and efficacy of mug-wort for treating many health maladies, including:
What Is Moxibustion?
Mugwort has been used in the practice of “moxibustion,” as part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Combustion involves rolling mug wort into sticks or cones, igniting it, then waving it over the area that is to be treated, or burning it over an acupuncture point to release energy.
Although this procedure may sound primitive, there is clinical research evidence that backs the effectiveness of moxibustion and lends some credibility to the practice of moxibustion.2 In fact, a systematic review, published in 2012, examined the effect of moxibustion on breech babies. The study authors explained that when combined with acupuncture, moxibustion may result in fewer cesarean births, and that the practice also reduced the need for oxytocin (a hormone that signals the uterus to contract during labor).2
Mugwort: A Weed with Potential
It’s a yellow dye, an insect propellant, an ingredient in food dishes, and a possible treatment for conditions ranging from flatulence to infertility. Not bad for something many Americans consider a noxious weed. It’s related to ragweed and may cause allergies similar to ragweed, which may explain why American gardeners try to kill it whenever possible. But mugwort gets more respect in other parts of the world, where it has been used for centuries.
A member of the daisy family, mugwort, or Artemisia vulgaris, is native to Asia and Europe. It can reach up to 6 feet in height and has yellow or reddish-brown flowers in the summer. Its leaves have a silvery fuzz on their underside and it has a sage-like smell and slightly bitter taste.
In the past, mugwort was revered. Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals before marching to ward off fatigue. It was also thought to protect people from wild animals and evil spirits. People placed it under their pillows to induce vivid dreams and planted it around their houses and gardens to repel moths.
What is mugwort used for?
In traditional Asian medicine, mugwort or wormwood is used in a process called moxibustion. Mugwort or wormwood leaves are formed into sticks or cones about the size and shape of a cigar, and then burned on or over an acupuncture point to release energy.
Moxibustion has been practiced for more than 3,000 years in China, and advocates claim that it can strengthen and warm your blood and life energy, and treat inflammations and cancers. This study shows how moxa smoke can improve the autonomic nervous system and induce a relaxing effect on the body.
Moxibustion is also used to treat menstrual cramping and to help a baby in the breech position turn. According to this study Trusted Source, the practice does appear to increase fetal movements, helping the baby turn to a normal head-down, or cephalic, position. However, the authors conclude that more research needs to be done to determine combustion real effectiveness.
Mugwort can also be used to stimulate a women’s menstrual cycle. It can bring on delayed menstruation and in the past was used to induce abortions. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised to avoid the herb because of this potential risk.
In European and American herbal practices, mugwort is used to treat stomach and intestinal problems such as:
Mugwort abounds on hedge banks and waysides in most parts of England. It is a tall-growing plant, the stems, which are angular and often of a purplish hue, frequently rising 3 feet or more in height. The leaves are smooth and of a dark green tint on the upper surface, but covered with a dense cottony down beneath; they are once or twice pinnately lobed, the segments being lance shaped and pointed. The flowers are in small oval heads with cottony involves and are arranged in long, terminal panicles; they are either reddish or pale yellow. The Mugwort is closely allied to the Cornmon Wormwood, but may be readily distinguished by the leaves being white on the under-surfaces only and by the leaf segments being pointed, not blunt. It lacks the essential oil of the Wormwood.
The Mugwort is said to have derived its name from having been used to flavour drinks. It was, in common with other herbs, such as Ground Ivy, used to a great extent for flourishing beer before the introduction of hops. For this purpose, the plant was gathered when in flower and dried, the fresh herb being considered unsuitable for this object: malt liquor was then boiled with it so as to form a strong decoction, and the liquid thus prepared was added to the beer. Until recent years, it was still used in some parts of the country to flavour the table beer brewed by cottagers.
It has also been suggested that the name, Mugwort, may be derived not from ‘mug,’ the drinking vessel, but from moughte (a moth or maggot), because from the days of Dioscorides, the plant has been regarded, in common with Wormwood, as useful in keeping off the attacks of moths.
In the Middle Ages, the plant was known as Cingulum Sanctity Johann’s, it being believed that John the Baptist wore a girdle of it in the wilderness. There were many superstitions connected with it: it was believed to preserve the wayfarer from fatigue, sunstroke, wild beasts and evil spirits generally: a crown made from its sprays was worn on St. John’s Eve to gain security from evil possession, and in Holland and Germany one of its names is St. John’s Plant, because of the belief, that if gathered on St. John’s Eve it gave protection against diseases and misfortunes. Dr. John Hill extols its virtues, and says: ‘Providence has placed it everywhere about our doors; so that reason and authority, as well as the notice of our senses, point it out for use: but chemistry has banished natural medicines.’ Dioscorides praises this herb, and orders the flowering tops to be used just before they bloom.
The dried leaves were, sixty or seventy years ago, in use by the working classes in Cornwall as one of the substitutes for tea, at a time when tea cost 7s. per lb., and on the Continent Mugwort is occasionally employed as an aromatic culinary herb, being one of the green herbs with which geese are often stuffed during roasting.
The downy leaves have been used in the preparation of Moxas, which the Japanese use to cure rheumatism. The down is separated by heating the leaves and afterwards rubbing them between the hands until the cottony fibres alone remain, these are then made up into small cones or cylinders for use. Artemisia Moxa and A. sinensis are mainly used in Japan. This cottony substance has also been used as a substitute for tinder.
Sheep are said to enjoy the herbage of the Mugwort, and also the roots. The plant may, perhaps, be the Artemesia of Pantos, which was celebrated among the ancients for fattening these animals. It is said to be good for poultry and turkeys.