An ancient herb regarded as a protector of WOMEN + TRAVELERS, renowned for its high value in treating feminine disorders (think menstrual cramps!) & prized as a strong warming tonic that stimulates the circulation of qi and blood.
You may have heard about mugwort’s capacity to yield lucid or vivid dreams, which was highly valued in traditional cultures. Mugwort is a releasing plant, and in doing so she shows you what you’re releasing – whether that’s suppressed emotions in dreams (release of the psyche), or stagnant blood via menstruation (which can be kick-started with mugwort’s stimulation of blood flow to the uterus).
Her Latin name (Artemisia vulgaris) comes from Artemis, the Greek moon goddess who supported women at crucial points in their lives. The same way the moon pulls the tides, herbs that are associated with the moon (and thus, divine feminine energy) are great at pulling/releasing stagnant energy from the body. This is also what makes mugwort a great digestive aid, helping us to release bile/digestive juices.
- ANTIBACTERIAL + ANTIFUNGAL
- ASTRINGENT (tightens and tones lax tissues, can help tone the uterus to prevent cramping)
- BITTER (great for killing parasites, stimulates all digestive secretions including HCL + bile for the breakdown of dietary fat)
- DIGESTIVE (helps the body absorb nutrients)
- EMMENAGOGUE (stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area to encourage the smooth flow of menstruation).
CAUTION: Do NOT use mugwort during pregnancy because of this stimulating action on the womb!
TRADITIONAL USES OF MUGWORT – WOMENS’ MEDICINE:
- As a tonic, Mugwort is highly sought after for its affinity for the female reproductive system. It dispels cold & dampness in the womb, and is commonly used as a uterine stimulant that can both bring on delayed menstruation and aid in the balance and support of a regular menstrual cycle. This can be achieved by taking mugwort internally (tea, tincture) or applying it topically onto the lower abdomen.
- Mugwort is a warming uterine tonic and emmenagogue (which is why pregnant women should not take this plant). The uterus depends on healthy circulation (blood flow) to the pelvic region and strong uterine muscles to fully release each cycle. If the uterus is cold and not receiving enough qi/blood, the body will have to strain & contract to push out the stagnant blood. This is where painful menstrual cramps stem from.
- Mugwort can also relax the muscles to further assist with heavy cramping, and its antispasmodic actions can really help to soothe you within the first 2 days of bleeding. A wonderful way to use mugwort is through making a womb oil or salve which will help to bring on bleeding and shift any stagnation… which is what I’m working on right now!
TRADITIONAL USES OF MUGWORT – DIGESTIVE MEDICINE:
- Because it is bitter and warming, mugwort kick-starts the digestive system, stimulates the liver, and boost the immune system. We need bitter herbs like wormwood and mugwort in our lives now more than ever, as we become more sedentary and our body’s systems become sluggish.
- Drinking an infusion (which is a strong tea left to brew in a jar overnight) kills worms, improves digestive fire, and benefits the liver and jaundice. On this note, Mugwort can also be used PREVENTATIVELY for parasites and worms! This is where we see the ‘traveler’s protection’ come in.
TRADITIONAL USES OF MUGWORT – DREAM MEDICINE:
- To induce vivid dreams, many people make a tea consisting of Mugwort (for dreaming), Rosemary (for remembering) and Lavender (for relaxation). You can also take a mugwort tincture before bed if you prefer.
- Some people find that just having it by their bed or under their pillow is enough to bring their dreams to life. You can fill a sachet (or “dream pillow”) with freshly harvested mugwort and allow the aromas to work their magic.
YOU CAN FIND MUGWORT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD…
Mugwort is considered a hearty ‘weed’, which lucky for us means it can be found growing wild across much of North America. (Usually, these common “invasive” plants are the ones we need most as a culture – they are what nature offers us generously to harvest for food & medicine). I harvested mugwort this week from a local park, making sure to only take what I need from the top 1/3 of the plant.
I also make sure to see the plant four times in the same area before I forage, as “never taking the first means never taking the last.” You can identify mugwort by the white/silver undersides of the leaves and the tall flowering tops that can grow up to 6 feet! To harvest Mugwort for FOOD, take the leaves when she is under a foot high. For DREAMING / use as MEDICINE, take her when in bud before she flowers (July-September).
Last but not least, a fun fact!
Throughout Europe it was said that you knew where the herbalist lived because Mugwort grew around her house. This was the mark of the herbalist, the midwife and/or the healer… aka, the wise woman of the community!