Mugwort Benefits, Uses & History

With so many different herbs on the market, it can be mind-boggling to try to learn and remember each of their properties and benefits. One of the most popular herbs at the moment (mostly thanks to viral videos on social media platforms such as TikTok) is Mugwort

In this article, we’ll guide you through the history of Mugwort and how it became known as the “magic” plant. We’ll also outline the key benefits of consuming Mugwort and what side effects you should be aware of before giving it a try. 

What is Mugwort?

The term “Mugwort” is becoming increasingly more common, especially since the emergence of social media platforms such as TikTok, which has sub-communities of people who are interested in herbal remedies, witchcraft, and self-improvement. But what a lot of these videos fail to mention is that there are actually two different key types of Mugwort. 

While all Artemisia species are antibacterial and aid digestion in some way, but some, but not all, are nootropic, which means they improve memory and cognitive function. Some Artemisia species are given the popular name “sage.” This can be misleading and cause further confusion because they are not the same as the true sage plant. This could be attributed to the comparable scent of mugwort and sage.

What Is The History Of Mugwort?

The word “mugwort” is the collective name for many different species of aromatic flowering plants in the genus Artemisia. Mugwort is closely related to wormwood and the name is thought to have derived from the old English word moughte which means “moth,” or mucgwyrt, which translates to “midgewort.”

This is an homage to the idea that it has a long history of folk tradition to keep moths and midges at bay. It was often administered as medicine or tea and the leaves are sometimes even used in spells. The term Mugwort that we use today shares its scientific name with Artemis, the Greek goddess of the moon and a patron of women. 

Mugwort has long been considered an herbal ally for women with particular benefits in regulating the menstrual cycle and easing the transition to menopause. Mugwort is believed to be a magical herb with special abilities to influence the female body and protect travelers from weariness. The Romans cultivated mugwort along roadsides so that passers-by might put it in their shoes to ease sore feet. 

Mugwort’s alleged capacity to generate prophetic and vivid dreams when placed near the bed consumed just before closing your eyes, or tucked beneath your pillow is part of its enchantment. Every year when the summer solstice rolls around, a garland or belt of mugwort is often worn by Pagan celebrators as they dance around a ceremonial fire. The herb is then burned to ensure that it will provide protection for the rest of the year.

Uses and Benefits of Mugwort

Mugwort leaves can be dried and made into tea and consumed to help the digestive and reproductive systems. The herb is said to help calm the uterus, sometimes causing a later than usual menstrual cycle and relieving pains. Because the herb has a bitter taste, it is said to increase gastric juice and bile secretion, which is why herbalists use it to treat gas, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.

Despite its reputation as a friend to women and dreamers all across the globe, Mugwort is actually a highly medicinal plant that can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Many of the specific chemicals present in Mugwort can have overlapping effects and sometimes work in unison to prevent and cure a wide range of diseases.

Mugwort has reportedly been recognized as a stomach ulcer treatment in Brazilian folk medicine. Researchers discovered antioxidants in the plant, which help to explain its protective benefits on gastric tissues. 

Mugwort has also been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and it is usually ingested by women to slow down their menstrual flow. In recent years, Mugwort has gained popularity as a source of artemisinin. This is a natural chemical with antimalarial effects. Because of its low toxicity and efficiency against drug-Artemisinin is a possible natural malaria treatment because of resistant mutations of the malaria parasite, Artemisinin is a possible natural malaria treatment.

Artemisinin is being studied as a potential future anti-cancer medication. As well as its ability to treat malaria. A team of Mississippi researchers discovered that artemisinin is harmful to numerous different types of human cancer cells.

Moxibustion is a technique that’s commonly used in traditional Asian medicine that involves mugwort or wormwood. To expel energy, mugwort or wormwood leaves are fashioned into sticks or cones about the size and shape of a cigar and burned on or over an acupuncture point. Moxibustion has been used in China for over 3,000 years, and believers claim that it may strengthen and warm your blood and life force, as well as treat inflammations and tumors. 

Mugwort is used in European and American herbal medicine to treat stomach and intestinal issues such as:

  • Colic
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

It is also used to help:

  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Issues with the nerves
  • Insomnia

Some users say that it provides antibacterial and antifungal effects, however, these claims have yet to be proven with scientific evidence.

How To Take Mugwort

When making Mugwort tea, you’ll need to take 1oz of fresh Mugwort leaves and put them in a warmed glass container, such as a teapot.  You’ll then need to add one pint of clean boiling water to the container. To prevent the loss of volatile oils, the mixture should be covered during the infusion process. The tea should be left to brew for five to 10 minutes. Avoid leaving it to brew for longer than this, as the taste may become bitter. After straining, it is recommended to drink two cups of mugwort tea per day to see the most benefits. 

It is crucial to note that if you plan on becoming more familiar with mugwort, or any other beneficial traditional herb, the dose and best method of administration differ depending on the person receiving it. So, in layman’s terms, the effects you feel after consuming mugwort will depend on you as an individual, and everyone has a slightly different experience with it. 

Some people are more sensitive and may feel the effects of a herb with lower doses, such as just 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a mug of hot water, 3 drops of flower essence, or 10 drops of a tincture. However, others may require a higher dose, such as 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 8 oz of hot water, 5 drops of flower essence, or 30 drops of tincture.

When using a traditional herb for the first time, it’s wise to start with just a little amount and gradually increase the dosage as needed. But don’t feel disheartened if you don’t notice any results right away-  this may just mean that you need a slightly stronger dose.  Every plant reacts differently to each individual. Mugwort’s effects are quite subtle and may go unnoticed, especially if only used for short periods of time. 

For millennia, people have used mugwort in an attempt to cure a variety of health conditions. While mugwort’s value needs to be investigated further,  studies suggest that it may be beneficial in some circumstances. If a person is thinking about taking mugwort for medicinal purposes, they should consult with their healthcare professional first to be sure it is safe for them to do so. There is currently insufficient scientific evidence to calculate an optimal dosage for mugwort, and users should bear this in mind if they intend to use it.

The Side Effects Of Mugwort

Although Mugwort comes with lots of great benefits, it also has its downsides. For example, when consumed in high amounts it can induce liver damage, nausea, and seizures. When exposed to mugwort and other spices, some people experience contact dermatitis or an allergic skin rash. The mugwort-spice syndrome” is the name given to this food allergy. Carrots, paprika, curry, cumin, birch, and pepper are among the other foods and spices associated with this illness. Furthermore, mugwort pollen has been linked to asthma attacks in youngsters. 

Mugwort has traditionally been used to relieve anxiety and to calm those who are recovering from traumas such as a seizure or a drug overdose. Mugwort is generally connected with sleep due to its relaxing quality; nevertheless, its effects on dreams are what mugwort is most known for. According to legend, mugwort aids the dreamer in remembering their dreams and makes them more vivid. 

Mugwort in Mythology

Mugwort was said to have magical properties, too.  It was adopted by Native Americans because they believed it kept ghosts at bay. As a form of protection in the desert, John the Baptist is also said to have worn a mugwort girdle. It was believed in Northern Europe that gathering mugwort on St. John’s Eve provided protection against illness and disasters.

It is also rumored to heighten dream awareness, enhance lucid dreaming, and boost psychic sensitivity. Mugwort is thought to initiate dream clarity and provide awareness of the dream’s purpose in waking life. It is regarded as a visionary plant because, in mythology, it is believed to induce visions of the future.

Mugwort has long been regarded for its magical, mystical, and spiritual properties, particularly for clairvoyance and warding off evil energy. Many people believe that mugwort leaves, in any form—tea, tincture, smoke, or even hanging above the bed or placed under the pillow—can encourage vivid dreams and aid in the discovery, access, and transformation of areas of psychic unconsciousness. Although research on this plant is scarce, its supposed effects have appeared in a variety of anecdotes and literature throughout history.

How Mugwort Grows

Mugwort is a rather tall and resilient plant that is native to most of Europe. The plant has strong, angular, slightly hairy stems that are purple in color. The leaves, which can grow to be 4 in (10 cm) long, are deeply split into numerous lance-shaped, pointy segments that can be serrated or whole. They are dark green on top and pale green with downy hairs on the underside of the tall, grooved stem.

When the leaves of mugwort are crushed, they emit a strong scent. The little reddish-yellow disc flowers cluster in long spikes at the top of the plant in late summer. Mugwort can grow to be 6 ft (2 m) tall or more. This hardy herb has spread throughout North America, and it can now be found growing wild in rocky soils, along streams and embankments, and in rubble and other waste places, notably in the northeast of the United States.

Mugwort is classed as a noxious, alien weed in some states, including North Carolina and Virginia. Mugwort root is around 8 in (20 cm) long and has many thin rootlets. It spreads via strong, persistent rhizomes.

Mugwort is supposed to be harvested just as the plant begins to flower, which is before the blossoms open completely. The leaves are then separated from the stalks and dried on paper-lined trays in a light, airy environment out of the way from any direct sunlight. The flowerheads should be dried whole, and the dried herb should be kept in clearly labeled, firmly sealed dark glass containers.

Can You Cook With Mugwort?

Although Mugwort is most often used as a herb, it can be used to cook with. For example, the leaves and the buds of the plant can be used as a strong and bitter flavoring agent to season meat and fish and people often use it in stuffings and marinades and as a flavoring for stock. It’s also used in Germany to season goose- most commonly, the roast goose that is traditionally eaten around Christmas time.

 There are also several references to mugwort in Chinese cuisine, dating back to poems from the 11th century. It’s usually prepared as a cold dish or can be stir-fried with fresh or smoked meat. In Japanese cuisine, mugwort is known as yomogi and is used in a variety of dishes including mochi and desserts. In Korea, mugwort is often found in soups and salads and it is usually mixed with rice flour, sugar, salt, and water before it is steamed and served.