HISTORY: Mugwort, belonging to the Artemisia genus, has a rich history deeply rooted in the traditions of Western herbal medicine, as well as Chinese and Japanese medicine. Both Eastern and Western practices have their own distinct uses for this versatile herb. While this blog post won't provide a deep exploration of mugwort's extensive Eastern history and moxibustion uses, I can touch upon its warming and penetrative qualities. Mugwort is often burned directly on meridian lines and specific points to promote blood and qi circulation, aiding in organ balance.
ELEMENTAL QUALITES: In traditional Western herbal medicine, mugwort is seen as a fluid blend of the earth, fire, and air elements. It possesses pungent and warming qualities (fire), along with bitter and grounding characteristics (earth), and volatile and calming essential oils (air). This complex herb contains deep layers within its composition and is utilized to address various ailments and body systems. Each person drawn to mugwort is likely attracted by a different thread, as it offers numerous benefits within its web. There are many different species of Artmesia. Artmesia vulgaris being the one most commonly used in Western Herbal Medicine and pictured above.
DIGESTIVE AFFINITY: Firstly, mugwort exhibits an affinity with the digestive system. Its bitter properties stimulate digestive secretions and enhance the flow of bile from the liver, aiding in the breakdown of fats. Additionally, the herb's aromatic essential oils work to relax the nervous system, activating the rest and digest (parasympathetic) response, also reducing spasms or cramps within the intestines. By achieving a relaxed state conducive to effective digestion, with the right fluids and enzymes flowing, the pungency and warmth of mugwort become crucial, especially for individuals with insufficient digestive fire. Pungent and spicy herbs like mugwort help kindle the agni (stomach fire). Mugwort has historically been used as an antiparasitic, helping to rid the intestines of worms and parasites which is essential for a healthy digestive system.
THE FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM: Mugwort has a special connection with the female reproductive system. A plant ruled by the moon, and with an affinity with the lunar cycles. It promotes blood flow, alleviates menstrual cramping, and can even induce a delayed menstrual bleed. However, it's important to note that mugwort possesses emmenagogue qualities and can stimulate uterine contractions, making it contraindicated during pregnancy. Mugwort also aids in promoting movement and warmth within the pelvic region, which is particularly significant as cramping can occur due to stagnant energy in the uterus.
Artemisa, whether drunk, smoked, eaten or bath in, strengthens a woman and encourages her in claiming her independence and self-esteem. The kind of belief in herself that needs no validation. The goddess Artemisa is known for teaching women to be physically strong and vital, to stake claim to their own bodies and minds. - Robin Rose Bennet.
DREAMS AND INTUITION: Mugwort is renowned for its mystical and dream-enhancing properties. Individuals seeking to learn from their dreams, sharpen their intuition, or expand their awareness are often drawn to mugwort. Personally, after closely working with mugwort for several years, cultivating it in my garden, regularly enjoying its tea, and applying its balm on my belly, hands, and face, I have experienced a deeper connection with my intuition. I frequently dream of other herbs that call out to be explored. Some people find that mugwort can promote excessively vivid dreams, so if you are having trouble sleeping, dose carefully. The strength of the mugwort spirit is profound, often described as a magnificent energy, fierce crone, or protector. During circles or gatherings, my students are naturally drawn to mugwort, feeling grounded, calm, and safe in its presence.
THE NERVOUS AND MUSCULOTSKELETAL SYSTEM: When applied topically as an infused oil, mugwort offers relief from muscular pain, tension, wounds, bruising, and other bodily injuries. Its warming and penetrative qualities allow it to deeply soothe and energize the body, fostering a sense of profound peace. This herb is high in vital minerals and really nourishes the body when applied topically. When mixed with other herbal oils such as St. John's Wort, it can help for the medicinally active properties to absorb even more deeply due to its penetrative and inward moving energy. Drunk as a herbal infusion the volitile oils have a strong effect on the nervous system, calming the mind and tonifying the nervous system. Sajah Popham describes Mugwort specifically as a nervine stimulant rather than a relaxant. (Read here)
HERBAL PREPARATIONS: There are many ways that mugwort can be prepared as medicine. You can take mugwort internally as a tincture or tea, apply it topically as a balm or oil, burn it on acupressure points, or even nibble on a small fresh leaf for its strong bitter effect.
Bitter Tonic: A bitter tonic promotes digestion and stimulates the appetite.
Carminative: Carminatives help relieve digestive discomfort, such as bloating and gas.
Cholagogue/Choleretic: These medicinal actions promote the production and flow of bile, aiding in digestion and liver function.
Nervine Sedative: Nervine sedatives have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
Nervine Stimulant: Nervine stimulants act as tonics for the nervous system, providing energy and enhancing mental alertness.
Emmenagogue: Emmenagogues stimulate blood flow to the pelvic area and promote menstrual regularity.
Mild Uterine Antispasmodic: These medicinal actions help relieve uterine spasms and cramps.
Mild Anthelmintic: Mild anthelmintics help expel intestinal worms and parasites.
Mugwort can be a wonderful herb to meditate with. Either by ingesting the herb in a tea or tincture form, or just sitting with the plant. Spend time with her each day and feel yourself become stronger and more vital. Ask for confidence and assistance in your plans and adventures. Listen closely to your dreams and thoughts.
Remember, mugwort possesses a touch of magic and offers numerous health benefits. Whether you seek support for digestion, assistance with the female reproductive system, or enhanced dream experiences, mugwort can be a valuable ally on your journey. If you do not identify as female or are a man, this does not exclude you from the use of this powerful herb. I encourage all people to make its acquaintance and ask for its guidance. Embrace the power of mugwort and unlock its extraordinary potential for your evolution as a human being intertwined with plants.