I overlooked Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) for many years as an herbalist. It’s not super common in herbal texts and neither is it a very showy plant. But herbs have an uncanny ability to come to you exactly when you need them. This was Mugwort for me. I started growing her in my garden this past summer and soon realized that this seemingly humble plant is actually quite magnificent.
My Mugwort grew to be about 5 feet tall with a firm stalk and stunning silver-green leaves that shimmer in the wind. She was constantly covered with pollinators and stayed lush during our lengthy drought when other plants withered. Though tiny, her dainty white flowers hold both a floral and woodsy aroma unlike anything I’ve smelt, yet also smelling like my childhood (or past lives?) at the same time. A plant I had erroneously perceived to be lack-luster is now a star in my herbal apothecary! Mugwort is lovely to use in teas, smoke blends, and incense, but I’m currently really enjoying her as an infused oil. Thus, this post.
Below you will find a brief Materia Medica on Mugwort and a simple, foolproof recipe for an infused oil using fresh Mugwort aerial parts.
Mugwort Materia Medica
Name: Common Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris
(etymology: Artemisia from Ancient Greek "ἀρτεμισία" or "Artemis the goddess"; vulgaris from Latin "common")
Parts Used: aerial parts (leaves before flower for digestive support & antiparasitic activity; leafs, flowers, & seed heads after flowering for dreamwork); roots (fall harvest)
Actions: antibacterial, antispasmodic, bitter, carminative, diaphoretic emmenagogue, mild nervine, vermifuge
Uses: Mugwort should be considered for those who:
- Deal with physical imbalances rooted in coldness, stuck-ness, stagnation
- Want to explore shadow and/or dream work.
Physically, Mugwort is a heater and a mover. Its warming nature is especially beneficial in bringing blood flow and nourishment to the lower organs: kidneys, gallbladder, liver, stomach, and reproductive organs. Moxabustion, the practice of applying a special preparation of dried Mugwort to certain meridian points, is commonly used in TCM used to dispel cold, strengthen Yang-Qi, remove stasis of the blood, and dissipate stagnation (PSA: if you deal with chronic constipation, try Moxa on your Stomach 36 acupressure point with a trained professional or someone you trust!)
Mugwort, a close sister to Wormwood, carries a few properties that make it excellent for expelling pathogens (vermifuge) and revving up digestion (digestive stimulant). As a bitter, it's filled with compounds used traditionally to not only increases stomach acid and bile secretion, but also expel parasites and return homeostasis to the microbiome. Its astringent and drying nature also helps combat diarrhea often associated food poisoning or parasitic infections. As a antibacterial carminative, it also soothes gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort.
Mugwort might have the most notoriety for its use in the dream world, where its been used for ages to help individuals connect with the subconscious/preconscious layers of themselves that often come out when we sleep. Mugwort has been used to induce lucid dreams, improve memory of dreams, or help one gain meaningful insight into dreams so they can integrate them into their waking life. Smoking a blend of Mugwort, taking the flower essence, drinking a weak tea, or simply putting a fresh sprig under your pillow can all induce these very real actions.
Form: Tincture: 5-20 drops 2-3x/day or before meals; Infusion: Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in one cup boiling water, drink 2-3 times/day; Smoke blend: mix with lung tonics like Mullein and Marshmallow & smoke before bed to calm and prep for stellar dream work or to sooth tight, boggy lungs; Flower Essence: 1 df before bed for calming dream work
Contraindications/Cautions: Not recommended for pregnant (abortifacient qualities due to stimulating/moving nature) or nursing women or those with known allergies to Aster family plants
Eileen Brantley & Amy Wright
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