Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), which is also known as wormwood, artemesia and St. John’s plant, grows in abundance throughout Asia and parts of Europe. Although not indigenous, mugwort now grows in North America as well and is considered by many to be an invasive weed. It can grow up to heights of six feet, although it tends to be from one to three feet tall, with woody stems, tiny greenish-yellow flowers and green, silvery leaves. The leaves contain the valuable constituents, including volatile oils, tannin and the bitter principle. Mugwort has uses for overall well-being as a digestive tonic. It is also beneficial for women as an emmenagogue and it has relaxing properties.
In Europe mugwort has been used throughout the centuries as a flavoring in drinks, from beer to aperitifs and even as a substitute for black tea. As a healing herb the dried leaves can be infused in boiling water and taken as a tea to stimulate digestion. The bitter properties stimulate digestive juices and the volatile oils act as a carminative, aiding the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. In this way it may help with gas, constipation and an upset stomach.
Mugwort also is a nervine tonic. The tea can be drunk to ease depression, anxiety and general tension. As an emmenagogue it can help to stimulate menstrual flow and reduce menstrual cramps.
Mugwort in TCM
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) mugwort leaf is known as ai ye. This is a very important medicinal plant in TCM. As a bitter and considered to have warm, pungent properties, mugwort leaf is used for the meridians of the liver, spleen and kidney. It is also used by acupuncturists who practice moxibustion. Mugwort is burned during a treatment.
How to Make a Cup of Tea
To make a cup of mugwort tea, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried leaves for one cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure the infusion is covered while steeping to help preserve the volatile oils. Drink up to three cups a day while using this herb for healing. You may be able to find mugwort in your local health food store and it should be very easy to find with any stores that sell Chinese herbs.
Safety and Precautions
Some people may be allergic to mugwort — it is a relative of ragweed. It is important to use caution if an allergy is possible and to test a small amount before drinking a cup of tea or burning dried mugwort. This plant is considered to be safe for general use, although you should always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements, particularly if pregnant or nursing, if you have a medical condition or if taking any type of medication. Although mugwort has been used all over the world for centuries and is particularly popular in TCM, there have not been many medical tests concerning this plant.
Hoffmann, David. “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies.” (Element Books, 1996).
Mrs. M Grieve’s A Modern Herbal. Mugwort. https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html
Mugwort Leaf. Acupuncture Today. https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/herbcentral/mugwort_leaf.php
Mugwort. American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/mugwort
photo by Polyparadigm/wiki
Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.